James O’Connor called it a big game heading into the weekend’s match against FC Dallas.
The Lions were in the midst of a three-game winless run, which has seen them fall below the playoff line and results at home this season have been hard to come by.
On Saturday, however, Orlando City was back on the winning end as goals from Tesho Akindele and Carlos Ascues lifted the Lions to a 2-0 victory over FC Dallas in front of 22,479 at Exploria Stadium.
“Very pleased with the win,” said O’Connor after the game. “I thought the mentality that the players showed was excellent and some outstanding individual performances. The effort of the guys to defend… we had some decent chances that we managed to take them in the end. I think overall the commitment to defending was excellent.”
Akindele’s 13th-minute goal opened the scoring when a Ruan’s through-ball found the forward to slot the ball past Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez. Orlando (8-11-5, 29 points) secured the victory when Sacha Kljestan’s back-heel pass connected with Carlos Ascues, who slotted the ball from close the second goal of the night.
It was Akindele’s career-high eighth goal of the season as he wore the captains’ armband for the first time in his professional career for Orlando City.
“It was a great honor,” said Akindele. “James just said that I was deserving of it, obviously with Nani and Sacha on the bench today and they’re usually the captains. He felt like it was my moment to be the captain. I was grateful and now I’m glad to be given the opportunity, the whole team just supported me and made me feel really good.”
In the 52nd minute, a strike from Santiago Mosquera forced Brian Rowe to make a diving save.
It was Orlando’s sixth shutout win of the season.
Orlando City almost conceded a penalty kick when referee Silviu Petrescu went to the VAR for a possible handball on Lamine Sané inside the box, but after going through video review, a penalty for FC Dallas was not rewarded.
Orlando takes on Atlanta United on Tuesday in the semifinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup at Exploria Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.
13′ – Tesho Akindele, assisted by Ruan (Orlando City)
90+2′ – Carlos Ascues, assisted by Sacha Kljestan (Orlando City)
How the Lions lined up
Orlando City XI: Brian Rowe; João Moutinho, Robin Jansson, Lamine Sané, Ruan; Carlos Ascues, Will Johnson (Kyle Smith, 90+4′), Sebastián Méndez; Tesho Akindele (c), Dom Dwyer (Nani, 72′), Chris Mueller (Sacha Kljestan, 54′).
Orlando Bench: Adam Grinwis, Kamal Miller, Dillon Powers, Robinho.
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