ORLANDO – Orlando City SC (8-11-5) beat FC Dallas (9-9-6) 2-0 on Saturday night in front of 22,479 fans at Exploria Stadium.
The last time the Lions hit the pitch, they were an exhausted bunch, fighting to compete but list 4-2 to the New England Revolution. But after an all-star weekend, they looked well rested and ready to attack.
I guess the FC Dallas Bulls didn’t get the memo because Orlando came out of the box energized and ready to win. Even though the Bulls had 64% possession in the match, the Lions made their moments with the ball count.
In the 13th minute, Ruan got loose on one of his patent streaks, but instead of his usual side run, he got into the middle, Tesho Akindele, Saw that and got an opening in the box. Ruan delivered a nice cross, and Teho did the rest, and delivered it to the back of the net. It was his 8th goal of the season, tying his career high.
Tesho, however, did not celebrate. The former FC Dallas player holds respect for his former squad.
“I played for that team for five years.” said Akindele “I really love the club, I have lots of respect for the ownership all the way down to the players at the academy.”
Test had the honor of wearing the captain’s band for the match for the first time in his career. Both Nani and Sasha Kljestan starting the match on the bench, coach James O’Connor felt he deserved it.
“It’s weird, you feel like a rookie for a long time,” Akindele said. “I felt like a rookie even two years ago, like I was a new guy in the league. Now, kids are coming in that are five, six, seven years younger than me [and] I want to guide them and give them the best possible career. I’m happy to embrace that role.”
Orlando concentrated on defense for much of the match, and proved successful at keeping FC Dallas at bay.
The Bulls brought in midfielder Michael Barrios and forward Dominique Badji in the second half and it gave them an extra boost in the second half, putting João Moutinho to work on the left flank of the defense.
But Orlando wasn’t finished. In the 95th minute, Midfielder Carlos Ascues added some stoppage time insurance for the Lions, scoring his first career MLS goal to double Orlando’s lead. The Lions played some tic-tac passing in the final third, before Sacha Kljestan found Ascues open in the middle for the goal.
Dallas only managed 10 shots for the game, only one of them was on target in the second half.
Coach O’Connor was pleased.
“Obviously very pleased with the win.” said O’Connor “I thought the mentality that the players showed was excellent and, as I just said, I think there was some outstanding individual performances. I think the effort from the guys to defend and then you look at – we’ve had some decent chances – we managed to take them at the end there. I think overall when you look at the commitment to defending it was excellent.”
The Lions next match is a big one. They face off against Atlanta United FC in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Semifinal round on Tuesday, Aug. 6 at Exploria Stadium, with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET. City will return to league play on Saturday, Aug. 10 when it travels to face Toronto FC at BMO Field.