With playoff implications on the line and in the midst of a winless skid — a stoppage-time winner from Daryl Dike was enough to secure Orlando City a 2-1 victory over D.C. United on Saturday night in front of 16,848 in attendance at Exploria Stadium.
“It was a very important night for us,” head coach Oscar Pareja said. “And it was emotional, of course, because we have seen the players how hard they work to get over this hurdle.”
“This period of three weeks, where we couldn’t get the results. Our players were very united. And then, after dominating the game and always be constant on our purpose and on our idea of the game and trying and trying and it seems like one point was not enough for them in front of our fans, they brought that energy at the end, that it was what we were looking for to change the road now, and that’s why it makes it emotional.”
The Lions conceded early in the match but tied moments later courtesy of Robin Jansson. Dike’s late winner came in the seventh minute of stoppage after heading a ball from Chris Mueller past Bill Hamid to secure Orlando the three points.
Julian Gressel opened the scoring in the early minutes of the match when a strike from outside the box towards the near post beat Pedro Gallese to give DCU the early 1-0 lead in the sixth minute.
Orlando tied the game in the 17th minute when a corner kick played by Mauricio Pereyra connected with Junior Urso whose header was blocked away by Bill Hamid before Robin Jansson managed to pounce on the rebound to level the game 1-1.
The Lions almost found the go-ahead goal in the 35th minute when a ball placed on the left side from Nani found Benji Michel, who managed to cut past the DCU defender and strike from close, but the ball went off the post.
Orlando’s winner game in the seventh minute of stoppage time after a corner kick played by Chris Mueller, connected with Dike who flick headed the ball past Hamid to ensure the go-ahead goal.
It was the sixth consecutive game that Orlando (11-8-9, 42 points) conceded first — it’s also the Lions’ first win since Sept. 4, which saw Orlando win 3-2 over the Columbus Crew.
Emmanuel Mas entered the game at halftime for Joao Moutinho — it was later revealed after the game that Moutinho suffered a tightness on his hamstring, Pareja confirmed to reporters.
Shortly after Dike’s stoppage-time winner, Pareja was seen on the broadcast filled with emotion, hugging his assistant Josema Bazan.
“He’s always with the boys, with his initiatives, working on plays that can bring that conviction on scoring goal,” said Pareja. “ This week, they worked really hard on that, and it was rewarding for the group.”
Orlando City have two weeks off before they travel to take on FC Cincinnati on Saturday, Oct. 16 at TQL Stadium. Kickoff for the game is slated for 7:30 p.m. and will televise locally on FOX 35 Plus and LionNation TV.
6’ – Julian Gressel (DCU)
17’ – Robin Jansson (ORL)
90+7’ – Daryl Dike, assisted by Chris Mueller (ORL)
How the Lions lined up
Orlando City XI: Pedro Gallese; Joao Moutinho (Emmanuel Mas, 46’), Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, Ruan; Sebastian Mendez (Andres Perea, 81’), Jr. Urso, Nani – c (Tesho Akindele, 81’), Mauricio Pereyra (Silvester van der Water, 70’), Benji Michel (Chris Mueller, 81’), Daryl Dike.
Substitutes: Mason Stajduhar, Alexander Alvarado, Kyle Smith, Joey DeZart.
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