Facundo Torres‘ second-half penalty kick saw Orlando City earn a 1-0 win over the New York Red Bulls Saturday afternoon at Exploria Stadium.
“A very intense game against a rival that doesn’t give up in any minute,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “And certainly New York, with their pressing and the way they structure their defensive zones in the middle and up front, is very difficult to break. For us, it was a big challenge to find the spaces that we normally do. I think the best part of the game for us was that we kept intensity all the time and in our heart was great today.”
The win is the second in a row on opening day under Pareja and the fourth consecutive home opener that ended with a Lions shutout.
Orlando has still not ever lost an opening day match in nine years in the league.
An announced attendance of 24,088 saw the Lions take the lead in the 55th minute after Sean Nealis was called for a handball in the box. After a discussion with Ercan Kara and Martin Ojeda, Torres took the ball and fired it down the middle, beating Red Bulls keeper Carlos Coronel.
“I’m very happy, going through a happy time in my life,” Torres said. “Through luck we were able to get past a game that was extremely difficult. We knew it was going to be like that, Red Bull runs everywhere and presses and limit so much space, and it was important to take three points at home and with the celebration, I’m happy in this moment of my life.”
Following the goal, Torres tucked the ball under his shirt, later announcing officially that his partner is pregnant with a baby girl.
Other than the penalty, the Lions struggled to find their rhythm on the field the majority of the night. Costly turnovers and missed touches led to tough night on both sides of the pitch.
Lions keeper Pedro Gallese finished the night with four saves, including two big saves down the stretch.
How the Lions lined up:
Orlando City XI: Pedro Gallese, Mikey Halliday, Rodrigo Schlegel, Robin Jansson, Luca Petrasso; Mauricio Pereyra – c (Wilder Cartagena, 90′), Cesar Araujo; Martin Ojeda (Dagur Dan Thórhallsson, 78′), Ivan Angulo, Facundo Torres (Kyle Smith, 90′); Ercan Kara (Ramiro Enrique, 63′).
Unused substitutes: Mason Stajduhar, Abdi Salim, Duncan McGuire, Felipe, Rafael Santos
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