James O’Connor was confident his side was going to make the most out of their chances heading into Saturday’s match against a winless Colorado Rapids.
The Lions made sure of that.
A two-goal performance from Portuguese star Nani along with goals from Tesho Akindele and Chris Mueller pushed Orlando City to a 4-3 victory over the Rapids in front of 22,450 at Orlando City Stadium
“I would say this is probably the proudest moment I’ve had since I’ve been here,” said O’Connor after the game. “Not just because of the way the players have come back, but you look at the supporters, we got a rain delay, you got lightning and you look around, and it feels like the whole Orlando is in the stadium.
“It’s incredible, this is a very special football club. And for us, to be able to go and win the game like that, we’re obviously very, very pleased and exceptionally proud of Chris.”
The Rapids opened the scoring in the ninth minute when a chip from Dillon Serna found Kei Kamara who struck from close range past Brian Rowe.
The Lions responded quickly, however, with two goals in three minutes.
In the 31st minute, Ruan sent a cross into the box, missing Tesho Akindele to finish the play for the goal and finding João Moutinho on the left., who then resent a cross into the box, finding Nani to head the ball into the net for the equalizing goal.
Tesho Akindele scored the go-ahead goal in the 33rd minute when an initial run from Ruan saw the Brazilian send a ball, finding Dom Dwyer who struck from close but was blocked by Tim Howard, finding Akindele to hit the rebound for the 2-1 lead.
An hour weather delay paused the match at halftime, but a goal from Nicolás Mezquida tied the game for the Rapids in the 61st minute before Cole Bassett gave the visitors the 3-2 lead in the 71st minute.
Chris Mueller, who entered the game in the 80th minute, had an instant impact, scoring a minute into his appearance to equalize the game 3-3 for Orlando. Nani closed out the match after scoring a penalty in the 89th minute for the game-clinching goal.
Tesho Akindele, who suffered a hamstring injury during week two at Chicago Fire, returned to the lineup for Orlando on Saturday.
In the 24th minute, Carlos Ascues went down with a left hamstring injury and was taken out of the game for Uri Rosell moments later.
Defensively, the Lions continued to struggle after finding themselves trailing for the fourth time at home this season.
“That’s something that we’ll be speaking about,” said O’Connor about the team having defensive lapses. “You don’t want to be conceding three goals as exciting and entertaining it is for everybody to win. And it is, it’s great, but we don’t want to be having that every week – I certainly don’t.”
Up next for Orlando
The Lions travel to take on Real Salt Lake on Saturday, April 13 at 9 p.m. ET.
9′ Kei Kamara (Colorado Rapids)
31′ Nani; asst: João Moutinho (Orlando City)
33′ Tesho Akindele (Orlando City)
61′ Nicolás Mezquida (Colorado Rapids)
71′ Cole Bassett (Colorado Rapids)
81′ Chris Mueller (Orlando City)
89′ Nani – Penalty kick (Orlando City)
How the Lions lined up
Orlando City XI: Brian Rowe, Lamine Sané, Robin Jansson, Carlos Ascues, Ruan, João Moutinho; Sebastián Méndez, Sacha Kljestan; Nani (c), Dom Dwyer, Tesho Akindele.
Orlando City Bench: Adam Grinwis; Kamal Miller, Chris Mueller, Uri Rosell, Kyle Smith, Santiago Patiño, Josué Colmán.
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