ORLANDO, FL – Orlando City SC (8-2-7, 31 points) Kept it’s 11 match unbeaten streak alive with a 1-1 draw against NYCFC on Wednesday night at Exploria Stadium.
This match looked like a tale of two different Lions squads.
In the combative match that saw 2 yellow cards issues within the first five minutes, Orlando was back in MLS is Back Tournament form, aggressive, swarming on every ball, keeping NYCFC on their heels.
In the 18th minute, Orlando was on the attack. Ryan tank a ball that was on the base line and lofted it up to Chris Mueller, who headed the ball into the net for the match’s first score.
Orlando had many other opportunities that didn’t pan out. Both Nani and Chris Mueller had shote from outside of the box that were just a hair wide of the post.
Then came the hydration break. That’s when things changed.
The Pigeons came out of the hydration break with a different strategy. The pushed their line forward and the reduced passing lanes caused Orlando all kinds of trouble.
Well, 30 very good minutes for us in the first half.” Said Orlando Head Coach Oscar Pareya. “After that, New York started just getting the ball. We couldn’t get the ball back as we used to do and then they started creating some actions there, including the goal. It was a goal that we probably had overconfidence in, but I’m not going to blame the players because what I have preached in this team is to try to play the game. Not just kick and run, we try to play it and sometimes those things happen. We absorb the pain that we get in that goal, when New York scored. The second half was, it was probably a hope that we had during those 45 minutes of creating something and trying to hurt New York, but without consistency and without too many clean sequences, New York did some other actions there that could finish in a win for them. At the end, with the players, we’ll take the point. We know how hard it is in the league and how hard that rival is and today, we used to win at home but we’ll take that point and think about the next one.”
The struggling Lions also were playing with a younger squad, with several more experienced players either on the injury list ( Tesho Akindele, Mauricio Pereyra, Benji Michel, among others) or on international assignment ( Pedro Gallese and Sebastian Mendez).
So, the youth of Orlando City, including Joey DeZart, and an appearance by David Lorea, plus the return of Ruan form injury and Antonio Carlos back to the starting line up, all made of an unusual mix on the field.
Ina lot of instances, DeZart danced around the ball, kind of like Nani, and many of the players looked for Nani when New York charged on the ball.
New York found it’s equalizer when in the 43rs minute, Valentín Castellanos combined with Keaton Parks in the box, whose first shot attempt deflected off of Brian Rowe, but a running Parks was able to follow his effort and slot it into the back of the net to level the match.
Brian Rowe held strong in the net with some strong saves, and managed a season high seven saves in this 100th MLS regular season match.
Orlando next travels to New Yor to face the Red Bulls this Sunday, Sept. 18 with kickoff set for 7 p.m. ET.