Despite missing several key players due to injury, Orlando City extended its unbeaten streak to nine games on Saturday evening.
Goals from Daryl Dike, Junior Urso and Antonio Carlos cemented a 3-1 Lions victory over the New York Red Bulls at Exploria Stadium.
“It’s another important victory against a team who as had recently very good results, and has showed a lot of verticality and a lot of dynamic in the way they attack,” said head coach Oscar Pareja.
“Today we did a great job on controlling that part, for the most of the game,” he added. “Even though there was moments in the second half, especially where they push us back and we had to put our blocks lower than that we wanted, but overall, we had had a very good game, especially for the youngsters.”
Dike opened up the scoring in the 24th minute after heading in a cross from Kyle Smith past Red Bull goalkeeper David Jensen. Mauricio Pereyra, who had a secondary assist on the goal, was forced to come off at the half due to tightness in his hamstring.
Orlando (8-2-5, 29 points) made it 2-0 when Junior Urso, off a ball from Chris Mueller, was able to get in behind the high line of the Red Bulls and strike past Jensen in the 50th minute to double the score for the Lions.
But the Red Bulls managed to pull one back in the 54th minute when Florian Valot cut through Orlando’s backline, striking from close past Gallese to reduce the score 2-1. The chance came off a turnover from Kamal Miller in his own defensive third.
Antonio Carlos, who entered in the 79th minute, secured the victory for Orlando after tapping in a ball from Benji Michel five minutes into stoppage time.
“I would say right now our confidence is sky high,” said Kyle Smith. “I think we know that we can beat any team in this league and for me personally, it’s a new feeling for me this year compared to, you know, last year. For example, I go into every game knowing that we have a great chance of winning and that we should win the game.”
Chris Mueller could’ve doubled the score in the 26th minute when he had a one-on-one chance with Jensen, but the Red Bull goalkeeper was able to block away Mueller’s effort.
The Lions were shorthanded during Saturday’s game, missing Joao Moutinho (groin), Uri Rosell, Ruan and Tesho Akindele because of injuries.
Following the game, Pareja said Maruicio Pereyra was taken out because of “tightness” and “we wanted to be preventive with him.”
Orlando City announced prior to Saturday’s game that goalkeeper Pedro Gallese (Peru) and midfielder Sebastian Mendez (Ecuador) would join their respective national teams this upcoming week for 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
Homegrown player David Loera also made his MLS debut for the Lions, entering as a stoppage-time substitution for Junior Urso, who was forced to come out after a head injury.
Orlando City provisionally jumps to second place in the Eastern Conference, one point below the Columbus Crew, who sit atop the East with 30 points.
Up next, Orlando travels to take on Atlanta United on Wednesday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium at 7 p.m.
24′ – Daryl Dike, assisted by Kyle Smith & Mauricio Pereyra (ORL)
50′ – Junior Urso, assisted by Chris Mueller (ORL)
54′ – Florian Valot, assisted by Daniel Royer (RBNY)
90+5′ – Antonio Carlos, assisted by Benji Michel & Nani (ORL)
How the Lions lined up
Orlando City XI: Pedro Gallese; Kamal Miller (Antonio Carlos, 79′); Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, Kyle Smith; Junior Urso (David Loera, 90′), Andres Perea, Chris Mueller (Alex De John, 86′), Mauricio Pereyra (Benji Michel, 46′), Nani (c); Daryl Dike (Joey DeZart, 78′).
Substitutes: Brian Rowe, Mason Stajduhar, Jordan Bender, Robinho.
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