ORLANDO – Orlando City SC opened up their 2020 campaign against Real Salt lake with a 0-0 result infant of a sellout crowd at Exploria Stadium.
The Lions faced RSL without strikers Nani (suspension) or Dom Dwyer (injury), but their upgrade in skill was on display with newcomers Junior Urso and Pedro Gallese as well as more time with Mauricio Pereyra made for more aggressive play, better ball handling and more confident passing and drilling.
Their first chance of the half came just five minutes in as Tesho Akindele got in behind the RSL defense but slipped as he tried to control with his chest, and the chance went wanting.
Urso produced a nice chance for Orlando in the 35th minute, kicking a ball in the box following a cross from Chris Mueller, but the shot was deflected wide.
It was notable the difference in this 2020 Lions squad, as the player played both sides of the pitch, and aggressively. Orlando seemed to keep RSL on their heels on the offensive end, and swarmed every ball on the defensive end. The Lions played like a much more seasoned team this go around, and it will be interesting to see what Nani and Dwyer bring into the mix.
Lions head coach Oscar Pareja opened his press conference by praising the fans.
“First I would like to thank the fans tonight, incredible atmosphere.” Said Pareja “Tonight I felt it and our boys did as well. We are living with a sensation of ‘it could have been much more’ and give them the three points because our fans deserved it tonight, the way they came and filled the stadium and gave us that energy.”
Urso also enjoyed the fans support.
“It was a very nice, nice atmosphere, the fans sing the whole time so for me it is amazing. I want to say thank you to the fans for coming here and for the good support they give us.”
Orlando City’ will embark on their first road trip of the 2020 MLS season, traveling to face the Colorado Rapids on Saturday, March 7 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.