By Chris Cuff
ORLANDO, FL – Orlando City SC battled for over 90 minutes, dominating and on the attack for most of the time, but gave up a heartbreaking goal on a free kick in the 92nd minute, giving DC United a 1-0 victory.
The Lions (1-2-1) had a tough task from the start, with the team only being in existence on the MLS level and with this lineup for only 9 weeks, while DC United (2-0-1) has over 30 years of experience, including coming in as last year’s Eastern Conference champions. Surprisingly, the Lions were dominating, and constantly on the attack, taking 8 shots on goal in the first half alone.
Things got the Orlando 32,822 fans a little nervous as Forward Pedro Ribeiro went down with what looked like a hamstring injury at 22 min in the first half. Orlando coach Adrien Heath sent in substitute Kyle Larin to fill in. Lauren made an immediate impact, causing the DC defense headaches.
After ending the first half with a 0-0 tie, DC United started the second half with a more defensive mindset. Orlando City however, continued their relentless attack on DC, finishing the game with an 17-11 shot advantage. DC goalkeeper Bill Hamid earned his paycheck last night with several big-time saves to keep his team in the match.
With the game coming to a close, DC speedy substitute Luis Avila was able to curl a free kick over Orlando’s wall to score the game winning goal for the visitors.
“It’s not very often you create as many chances as we have to not score a goal and get dogged again on a set piece. It’s not an easy night,” said head coach Adrian Heath. “I saw a lot of positives in this match. A lot of things that we’ve been working on are coming through. We once again have proved that we belong at this level.”
Orlando’s next match will take place against the Portland Timbers on Sunday, April 12. Kick-off is scheduled for 5 p.m ET at Providence Park. The Lions’ next home game will be against Toronto FC April 26 at the Orlando Citrus Bowl. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET.