Orlando City battled back from a 2-0 deficit to tie rival NYCFC 2-2 in their home opener at Orlando City Stadium.
After a massive roster overhaul, the Lions continued the aggressive style of play that they displayed in the pre-season, with swarming defensive attacks on opponents with the balsa and multiple options when on the attack.
On this day, NYCFC drew first blood in the 13th minute. Ebenezer Ofori fired a low, driven shot from outside the box that ricochet in off the post, giving New York the 1-0 lead.
Orlando’s Chris Mueller had a close shot at a tie in the 15th minute, but his shot flew wide of the post.
Hey York struck again in the 45th minute when Alexander Ring finished inside the six-yard box after a through ball from Alexandru Mitrițӑ. 2-0 New York.
Orlando kept up its aggressive play into the second half, but with no result.
In the 59th minute, Chris Mueller finally got Orlando on the board with a free kick that got through the defenders and past New York goalie Sean Johnson for a goal and a 2-1 score.
In the 69th minute, Lions Coach James O’Connor changed the energy of the stadium by inserting striker Dom Dwyer and Nani, the Manchester United wingman that was the highlight acquisition of the offseason.
As the crowd energy surged, Orlando City fed off of it, and went on the attack.
In the 70th minute, Nani got Dom Dwyer free down the left side, and created a two-on-one break. After taking some space, Dwyer sent a ball across the face of goal to Tesho Akindele, who opened his 2019 scoring account with a sliding score.
O’connor didn’t plan on Dwyer and Nani getting this many minutes in this match. Dwyer is just returning to play, and Nani is also just getting into the swing of things after getting his paperwork in order and just joining the team.
Orlando had a opportunity to get a win when a Dwyer header went off to the hand of NYCFC centerback Maxime Chanot’s arm, and referee Baldomero Toledo reviewed the play, but no penalty was called.
“The VAR recommended a review for a potential handling in the penalty area,” the refs said in a statement to reporters after the match. “After the review, the referee determined that the defender did not deliberately handle the ball.”
Orlando City next faces the Chicago Fire on March 9 at 1pm at SeatGeek Stadium.