Following last week’s season-opener against Atlanta United, Orlando City took their first and only west coast trip of the season to face Sporting Kansas City, managing on Friday to battle back from a 1-0 halftime deficit to earn a 1-1 draw Children’s Mercy Park, thanks to a 79th minute equalizer goal from Nani.
“I think it was a great performance for our team,” head coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “We came here to Kansas in an away game, against a very good rival, to attack the game and with a confidence in the way we play and the way we do our things, we will get the result. The personality and the consistency in our sequences today was very good and was the highlight of our team, so I’m very pleased.”
Much of the match was mired by offside calls and VAR checks, with three goals pulled back after offside flags went up and VAR checks were done, with Nani’s goal being the only one to be checked and overturned.
It looked like early Sporting had broken through in the 13th minute. After a Kyle Smith foul conceded a free kick, Nicolas Isimat-Mirin looked to have given the home side the lead, but after a video review check the goal was waived off.
Then in the 36th minute, it was the Lions turn to be on the wrong side of VAR after Benji Michel‘s goal that came off a follow-up to a Nani shot was flagged offside.
It wasn’t until just minutes before halftime that one side got on the board. With the Lions playing out of the back, Kansas City put on the pressure, forcing a turnover by Antonio Carlos. Gianluca Busio took advantage and fired a shot to the near post, beating Pedro Gallese and gifting the home side a 1-0 lead.
Orlando came out of the locker room determined as they continued to fight for an equalizer. They once again thought they had it in the 49th minute after Andres Perea got on the end of a deflected Nani cross and put it in the back of the net, but after video review, it was deemed that it deflected off Antonio Carlos while Perea was off, so the goal did not count.
Finally, in the 79th minute, the Lions found their breakthrough. After Kyle Smith found himself high up the pitch, he put a square ball across for Chris Mueller, who had come on as a sub a few minutes before. Mueller fired a shot that deflected perfectly for Nani to flick the back of his heel onto the ball and into the back of the net. Once again, this was called offside on the pitch, but this time it was overturned after video review.
The Lions managed to hold on for the final 10 minutes plus stoppage time to secure the 1-1 draw away from home.
The Lions will return home to face FC Cincinnati on Saturday, May 1 at 7 p.m. The match will be broadcast locally on Fox35 Plus and on LionNationTV.
45′ – Gianluca Busio, assisted by Daniel Salloi (SKC)
79′ – Nani, assisted by Chris Mueller (ORL)
Here’s how the Lions lined up
Orlando City XI: Pedro Gallese; Kyle Smith, Rodrigo Schlegel, Antonio Carlos, Ruan; Sebastian Mendez, Junior Urso (Alexander Alvarado, 77′), Andres Perea; Nani (Joey DeZart, 89′), Benji Michel (Chris Mueller, 57′), Tesho Akindele (Matheus Aias, 77′)
Substitutes: Brandon Austin, Michael Halliday, Rio Hope-Gund, Jordan Bender, João Moutinho
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