With their Leagues Cup match against Santos Laguna in the back of their minds, Orlando City attempted to give starters like Nani and Ruan a rest, but after going down a goal just before half, both players came in and helped the Lions grab a point on the road against FC Cincinnati with a 1-1 draw on Saturday at TQL Field.
“Yes, I think we came with intention to observe the tempo, and the determination of the game it we did that,” Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “We knew that some spaces were going to be given to them by the first minute, we came with the intention to win the game. So that’s why players are left with a sour taste on navigating this three points, which is something that I like because ambition for the team is to go away and win it. We had a much better second half in terms of dominating the spaces. We were more clear in the first half that we have some clear chances too. But, a good game for us. We should have been more resolute, we should have worked with the three points.”
In the early moments of the match, it was offense from the Lions that set the tone, but from unlikely sources. The first few shots on target came from newly acquired fullback Emmanuel Mas, who tried his luck from distance in the 11th minute, almost squeaking underneath goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer.
It was Mas once again just nine minutes later with another left footed effort from long range, this time a more comfortable save from Vermeer.
Despite the chances from Orlando, nothing truly challenged on goal through the first half. For Cincinnati, however, they were able to break the deadlock with their first shot on goal late on. Following an injury to midfielder Uri Rosell, which forced him off a minute later, Luciano Acosta played a ball into the box for Álvaro Barreal, who squared a ball back to an unmarked Brenner to redirect into the back of the net.
The Lions readjusted in the second half, bringing on Nani, Ruan and Joao Moutinho to get some energy into the match and to change the rhythm of the game. And change it they did. After a poor turnover from Cincinnati’s Allan Cruz, the ball fell right to Nani’s feet just seconds after coming on. The captain drove the final third of the pitch and unleashed an effort with his left from the top of the box to beat Vermeer and draw the game at 1-1.
The rest of the match was a battle of attrition, seeing which team would break first. Even with a goalkeeper substitution for FC Cincinnati, neither team would break on the night. With seconds left in stoppage time, however, the home side came painfully close to getting their first win at their new stadium
After a ball was played to Isaac Atanga in the attacking third with no Orlando defender around, Lions keeper Mason Stajduhar was forced to come off his line and make a game-saving stop, one that would secure a point on the road.
The Lions return home for the first game of the Leagues Cup as they host Mexican side Santos Laguna on Thursday, August 12 at 7 p.m.. The game will be on ESPN+ and TUDN.
42′ – Brenner, assisted by Luciano Acosta and Álvaro Barreal (CIN)
56′ – Nani (ORL)
How the Lions lined up
Orlando City XI: Mason Stajduhar; Emmanuel Mas (Joao Moutinho, 55′); Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, Kyle Smith (Ruan, 55′); Junior Urso (Joey Dezart, 84′), Uri Rosell (Andres Perea, 44′), Mauricio Pereyra, Chris Mueller, Benji Michel (Nani, 55′); Tesho Akindele
Substitutes: Adam Grinwis, Alexander Alvarado, David Loera, Silvester van der Water
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