A gritty, gutsy and grind it out match it was for the Lions in their third meeting against their South Florida rivals.
Orlando City closed out Phase 1 of the MLS restart beating in-state rivals Inter Miami 2-1 on Saturday in front of an announced crowd of 4,808 at Exploria Stadium.
The Lions finished the first phase 3-1-2, the best of the other three teams in the southeast region.
“Good game,” head coach Oscar Pareja said after the game. “Especially the first half, for us, was with a lot of quality from the players…It was a game about two teams here defending the state and what it means for us, and beating Miami. We want to dedicate this to the fans and how happy they are. This is a very, very important three points, but also it gets magnified against Miami.”
The difference maker on the night was Mauricio Pereyra, who was a part of both goals for the Lions. One ended up being deemed an own goal, but the the other was a tidy finish from the midfielder.
Orlando (5-2-4, 19 points) played a solid first half against the team from South Florida, holding 68% possession, and having the advantage in shots (5-3), duels (27-24) , passing accuracy (89%-77%), and total passes (259-116).
Orlando’s goal came in the 34th minute after Nani was fouled after nutmegging Nicolas Figal and earning a free kick after Figal fouled Nani. Pereyra put a ball into the box from a free kick that bounced in the box and deflected off Andres Reyes and in, giving Orlando the advantage.
The second half saw Miami work their way back into the match after a shift in formation, pushing more numbers forward. Former Orlando player Brek Shea leveled the game in the 65th minute on a header in the box. This scoreline, however, would only last four minutes.
After Chris Mueller received the ball in the midfield, passed it up to Nani who then gave it right back to the American. Mueller than played Pereyra in on goal, with no one but the keeper in front of him. The Uruguyan slotted the ball past Luis Robles, kissing it off the post to restore Orlando’s lead.
The next 20 minutes were spent defending and shutting down Miami’s dangerous chances.
In the 83rd minute, Rodrigo Schlegel looked to have potentially conceded a penalty and earned a second yellow, but after VAR intervened, the play was called offside.
After seven minutes of stoppage time, the final whistle blew and Orlando walked away with three points.
The Lions now move on to Phase 2 of the MLS restart, playing host to the Chicago Fire on Saturday, September 19th. Kickoff for that is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
34′ – Andres Reyes [OG] (ORL)
65′ – Brek Shea, assisted by Rodolfo Pizarro (MIA)
69′ – Mauricio Pereyra, assisted by Chris Mueller (ORL)
Here’s how the Lions lined up
Orlando City XI (4-2-3-1): Pedro Gallese; Kyle Smith, Antonio Carlos, Rodrigo Schlegel, Ruan; Chris Mueller (Benji Michel, 79′), Sebas Mendez, Joey DeZart, 92′), Junior Urso, Mauricio Pereyra (Alex DeJohn, 84′), Nani (Tesho Akindele, 92′), Daryl Dike (Andres Perea, 79′)
Bench: Brian Rowe, Kamal Miller, David Loera, Robinho
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