In their second rivalry match in just the last few days, Orlando City struggled to create offensive chances against a defensive minded Inter Miami, with the match finishing at 1-1 Wednesday night at Exploria Stadium.
“I think it was a difficult game for both,” Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “Very cut, rocky. It didn’t flow for either team from the beginning. We couldn’t find a rhythm. Miami didn’t create any chances, but we didn’t have that volume in attack that we used to have either. It was a game that I think both teams show that coming in a short period of recovery, trying to find those answers during the game, the players with the effort, but he was at a point where the game, just get tense. A lot of soccer in the middle, but not in the areas as we used to do it. So we take the point today. We respect Miami, we obviously came to win the derby with that energy, but today we had to work with that point and now we do it, we will prepare for the next one.”
For much of the first half, Orlando struggled to find consistency up front, with no true striker on the pitch. It took until the 36th minute before Orlando had their first shot on target — a chance from Mauricio Pereyra that went right at Miami goalkeeper Nick Marsman.
Despite the struggles, it was the Lions that struck first right at halftime. After a short corner taken by Nani, Pereyra played a combination with the Orlando captain to fire the ball into the box and find the head of Antonio Carlos, who got the ball into the back of the net, but at a price. His head collided with Miami defender Kelvin Leerdam and for a moment, Carlos was lying motionless on the pitch. Trainers eventually came out and helped the Orlando defender to his feet, but he did not return for the rest of the first half.
To open the second half, Rodrigo Schlegel was brought in to replace Antonio Carlos, who was later diagnosed with a concussion.
The second 45 minutes saw both teams grow more into the match, with Miami creating some dangerous chances off of Orlando turnovers. One came to a head in the 52nd minute after Miami’s Robbie Robinson twisted around Schlegel and got past Robin Jansson, trying to chip Mason Stajduhar. As the ball looked destined for goal, a sprinting Kyle Smith came up with a header off the line to preserve the lead.
With Orlando living on a tightrope, the pendulum swung in Miami’s favor just 15 minutes later. After another turnover, Victor Ulloa got a clean cross into the box, finding former Arsenal man Kieran Gibbs to knock in a floating header, beating Stajudhar to pull the game level.
The Lions made some attacking minded subs following that goal, looking to find the winner, but Miami’s defense held firm. Tesho Akindele did score off a dropped ball in the 82nd minute, but VAR deemed it offside.
From there, both teams could not find another goal and the match ended 1-1.
The Lions are back on the road this Saturday as they travel to Ohio to take on FC Cincinnati at TQL Stadium. The match will be televised locally on FOX 35 Plus and LionNation TV.
45′+1 – Antonio Carlos, assisted by Nani (ORL)
66′ – Kieran Gibbs, assisted by Victor Ulloa (MIA)
How the Lions lined up
Orlando City XI: Mason Stajduhar; Kyle Smith; Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos (Rodrigo Schlegel, HT), Ruan (Emmanuel Mas, 81′); Junior Urso (Uri Rosell, 76′), Andres Perea, Mauricio Pereyra, Chris Mueller (Silvester van der Water, 67′), Benji Michel (Tesho Akindele, 75′); Nani – c.
Substitutes: Adam Grinwis, Alexander Alvarado, Michael Halliday, David Loera, Joey Dezart
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