ORLANDO, FL – Inter Miami CF managed to hold off an aggressive start by Orlando City SC for a 0-0 draw in Friday night at Exploria Stadium in Downtown Orlando. The crowd of over 17,000 fans were treated to a game full of fireworks as Orlando managed 14 total shots at the Miami goal, but only 3 were om target.
The Herons managed to dodge a huge bullet early in the match when striker Tesho Akindele was shoved to the grass in the box by the Miami defense, resulting in a penalty kick. Akindele, who took the PK, unfortunately was not precise enough with his kick and a diving Nick Marsman was able to jump on the attempt, stopping the goal.
This was kind of the story of this game. As with many of Orlando’s latest opponents, Miami came out with a formation that kept 5 defenders back, which left little space for Orlando’s front line to operate.
Orlando had several chances during the match, and even had one called back.
In the 26th minute, Robin Jansson kicked a strong grounder through the scrum from the back, Akindele touches the ball and angles it past Marsman and into the net. After the ensuing melee, the referee announced that he was going to the VAR for a replay review. The goal was called off because Akindele was offsides.
Friday was also the return of Pedro Gallese in Orlando Goal. Gallese was off the field nursing an injury, then returned in time to play in the MLS All-Star Game. Both Nani and Gallese was available for duty for tonight’s rivalry match against Miami.
In the 69th minute, dangerous striker Gonzalo Higuain was in the box to Pedro’s right, with his back to a defender, and trying to fight to get around to get a shot.
Higuain spun around past the defender and ad was facing Gallese at point blank range. Gallese spread his arms, and Higuain’s blast deflected off of his arm and was cleared away.
Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Praeja.
“They had a couple of strong chances. He showed his class in need despite his challenges. Many things happened today that went well.” said Pareja. “Pedro and Nani was right there as always. They flew from LA, got off of the plane and first things they said was “Coach we’re ready.'”
Pareja’s demeaner in the post game press conference was one of pride. He spoke of how well his boys did tonight, and thought there were things that needed to be worked on, he was pleased with how they played against Miami.
The Orlando Defense was a star tonight. The high scoring Inter Miami offense.
The Herons only managed 5 shots on goal all night with only two shots on target, one in the first half, and one in the second half.
Orlando opened the match aggressively, attacking Miami from the starting tip, and keeping them on their heels for most of the first half. Miami didn’t get any depth of attack on Orlando’s end until nearly the 8th minute of the match.
Other heroes from the game included Sylvester Vander Water, who was a constant nuisance for Miami, pushing the ball, making hey passes and setting up chances. Benji Michel, who was pushing and challenging the Miami defense, trying to fight for space for chances. Chris Mueller who had a couple of close shots. Wherever the ball was, he seemed to be nearby.
Also, Daryl Dike mad an appearance after time with the USMNT duty and healing. Dike was immediately his dominant self, fighting off defender to try to make space. A little more time with the club and he will be at full strength and back in sync,
Orlando next faces Columbus Crew on September 4th at Exploria Stadium in downtown Orlando, FL