Despite a season-high in shots and chances created, Orlando City fell 2-1 to Charlotte FC on Saturday night at Exploria Stadium for the Lions’ first loss of the MLS season.
A strong first 15 minutes for the Lions could not be converted to any goals as they dominated the early chances. Unfortunately for Orlando, Charlotte’s first real chance of the game was converted by their striker Enzo Copetti, who got a chipped ball overtop the Orlando defense from Jaylin Lindsey. The Argentine got on the ball and poked it past Pedro Gallese to give the visitors an early lead.
“We tried to congest the middle,” Head Coach Oscar Pareja said of the first half, “We come in from a big effort. We need some solidarity there and then just try to reduce the spaces and to control things, but they didn’t work that way. It actually worked in the other way, that it was more space for them, the connections between all defenders and midfielders was bigger than we thought it would be in the game and in the second half we fixed it.
“I waited 30 minutes, I wanted to change and but I was just waiting for the reaction and then it took the whole half” Pareja continued, “But second half, we adjusted and then we just used the spaces that we normally do. The energy was there and we played much better.”
Charlotte would add a second just 11 minutes later, after Kerwin Vargas cut inside on Mikey Halliday and managed to hit a deflected shot into the fullback’s heel and past Gallese to double Charlotte’s lead.
Changes from Pareja and the Lions opened up the game more for the home side, as they finally found an opener just 10 minutes into the half. After a chipped ball by Facundo Torres got into the attacking third, Duncan McGuire used his size and speed to get to the ball before three Charlotte defenders and hit a shot towards goal. Charlotte keeper George Marks was able to get a palm on it, but McGuire got on the rebound and passed it off for Martin Ojeda to finish. It was his first goal with Orlando since signing back in January.
“It’s fundamental for my confidence to be able to balance out my anxiety a little bit, to have a little bit more tranquility out there,” Ojeda said on scoring his first goal, “I think, especially this last week, I’ve been a little bit anxious with trying to get off the mark and get that first goal, but now that I’ve got it, it just starts to build with the confidence as we move forward.”
Orlando tried hard to equalize through the next 35 minutes, but the finishing could not be found as the Lions dropped their first game of the season.
The Lions will now have a full week before their next game League play as they prepare to host the Philadelpha Union on Saturday night. That game will kick off at 7:30 P.M. on MLS League Pass.
Orlando will be without seven players heading into the game next week. Alex Freeman and Favian Loyola have been called up to the US U-19 team, Thomas Williams and Michael Halliday to the US U-20 team, Pedro Gallese and Wilder Cartagena for Peru and Facundo Torres for Uruguay.
How the Lions lined up
Orlando City XI: Pedro Gallese; Rafael Santos (Kyle Smith, 45′), Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, Mikey Halliday (Gaston Gonzalez, 72′); Cesar Araujo (Jack Lynn 82′), Mauricio Pereyra; Dagur Dan Thorhallsson (Ivan Angulo, 45′), Facundo Torres, Martin Ojeda; Duncan McGuire (Ramiro Enrique, 67′)
Unused substitutes: Mason Stajduhar, Felipe, Wilder Cartagena, Antonio Carlos
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