The Orlando City Lions were going for there second straight win in the 2018 season, and pulled out a dramatic comeback win over the Portland Timbers 3-2 in front of 22,227 fans at Orlando City Stadium.
The Lions battled against the solid Portland team, which included 2017 MLS MVP Midfielder Diego Valeri. Portland drew first blood on a penalty kick conversion by Valeri in the 20th minute. Timbers midfielder Sebastián Blanco was initially issued a second yellow card for diving in the box but Portland was awarded a penalty upon Video Review and the card was rescinded. Bendik guessed correctly and got his fingertips on Valeri’s kick.
Portland scored again in the 59th minute when Valeri delivered a corner kick in a great spot for Bill Tuiloma to head into the Orlando goal.
Orlando made three second half submissions that proved to strengthen the Lion’s attack. RJ Allen entered the match for Scott Sutter in the 57th minute, Chris Mueller came on for Josué Colmán 10 minutes later and Stéfano Pinho made his first appearance since March 10 when he came on for Justin Meram in the 76th minute.
City got on the board when Mueller headed in Yoshimar Yotún’s corner delivery for his first professional goal. Two minutes later, Dwyer was dragged down in the box and Kljestan made no mistake from the penalty spot to draw the match. soon after Dwyer did some 360degreed dribbling to find an open spot to secure the win with the third Orlando Goal.
“Obviously very, very pleased with the result. Again, I feel like this week was very similar to last week in many ways,” Lions head coach Jason Kreis said. “Incredible workrate by the guys. Incredible that they stick together. Incredible that they come back from two goals down. The effort and all those things were fantastic. I still think, though, we’ve got a long way to go. We’ve got a lot of improvement to make and so we cannot let this result take us to a place where we start to feel comfortable. We have to improve.”
The Lions have scored 25 points in the last 10 minutes of matches, and have been keeping things dramatic. Dom Dwyer has scored three goals in the past two games. Today’s goal was just another goal to him.
“I don’t remember that much of it to be honest. I know RJ [Allen] played a great ball down the line and I tried to face up against the defender, I couldn’t quite get a hold of the ball. I tried to side on my left and it wasn’t really on. I slipped over a little bit and I think they slipped over as well and I knew he was getting back up so I just tried to chop it one more time and create a shot and finish it.”
Kreis also believes that the team is just at the beginning of touching it’s potential.
“No doubt about it. If I put a positive spin on what I said about happy with the result but not happy with the performance, is I see what this team can be.” he said. :I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it in the preseason, I’ve seen it in the training sessions. We still have another top, top player that has yet to play for us. I know what the potential is. Maybe that makes me a little more critical of others when I don’t see it but I believe in this group. I think this can be a top, top team once we get it all together.”
Orlando heads on the road and visits the Philadelphia Union on Friday, April 13. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. ET and will be nationally televised on ESPN. The Lions return to Orlando City Stadium on Saturday, April 21, to host the San Jose Earthquakes at 7:30 p.m. ET.