Heading into Thursday’s match against the Philadelphia Union, head coach Oscar Pareja said there was a lot to be optimistic about despite the team’s recent run of games which saw the Lions go winless in their last three matches.
The optimism was there. So were the goals.
Even some late saves in a match that saw Orlando City secure a 2-1 victory at Exploria Stadium to get back to winning ways.
“A fantastic match against a fantastic opponent, and three points that we value a lot tonight,” Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “Today we faced a rival that has a lot of consistency in their ways and I think we were protagonists of the possession especially in the first half.”
Orlando (7-3-4, 25 points) opened the scoring early in the first half when a threaded pass from Mauricio Pereyra found an unmarked Benji Michel, who managed to to slip past Philadelphia’s backline to strike the ball past the goalkeeper Matt Freese to give the Lions the 1-0 lead in the 10th minute.
Orlando could have made it 2-0 moments later in the 13th minute when a chipped ball to Pereyra made way for a give-and-go with Andres Perea, but Pereyra’s shot from close went wide of the goal.
The Lions dominated the first 25 minutes of the match before the Union slowly began to take over with possession to close the rest of the first half.
In first-half stoppage time, Pereyra received a yellow after a foul on Jose Martinez — the infraction means the Uruguayan DP will miss Sunday’s match at New York City because of yellow card accumulation. Despite a late flurry, the Lions took the 1-0 lead into the locker room.
The second half started well for Orlando, as Andres Perea made it 2-0 in the 59th minute, when he headed in a cross from Nani past the goalkeeper into the bottom left corner.
Philadelphia continued to push for a goal to reduce Orlando’s lead and eventually found it when a low cross from Olivier Mbaiz managed to connect with Kacper Przybyłko, whose one-time finish beat Pedro Gallese in the 68th minute to pull one back for the Union.
Pedro Gallese made his first real save in the 79th minute to deny a potential equalizer when the Peruvian shot-stopper denied a chance from Philadelphia’s Quinn Sullivan.
In the 83rd minute, Gallese made another save to deny Sullivan from close to prevent a potential Philadelphia equalizer.
The match saw Oscar Pareja make five substitutions with the last one coming in the 84th minute when Nani left the game early as Alexander Alvarado entered the game for the Orlando captain.
In the eighth minute of second-half stoppage time, Gallese made another game-saving save to deny Jack Elliot from close before Kyle Smith’s goal-line save off his face denied Jack McGlynn the rebound opportunity.
It’s another short turnaround for Orlando City as they travel to take on New York City FC at Yankee Stadium on Sunday. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. and will televise on FOX 35 Plus and LionNation TV.
10′ – Benji Michel, assisted by Mauricio Pereyra (ORL)
59′ – Andres Perea, assisted by Nani (ORL)
68′ – Kacper Przybylko, assisted by Olivier Mbaizo (PHI)
How the Lions lined up
Orlando City XI: Pedro Gallese; Joao Moutinho, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, Kyle Smith; Oriol Rosell (Joey DeZart, 77′), Andres Perea, Benji Michel (Tesho Akindele, 77′), Nani (c) – (Alexander Alvarado, 84′), Mauricio Pereyra (Antonio Carlos, 73′); Chris Mueller (Silvester van der Water, 73′).
Substitutes: Mason Stajduhar; Michael Halliday, Rio Hope-Gund, David Loera.
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