ORLANDO – It was another rainy night at Exploria Stadium after area storms delayed the game for a hour, but Orlando City SC (7-3-4, 25 points) took a 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Union (6-4-5, 23 points) in Thursday Night.
Benji Michel and Andres Perea scored for the Lions, ending a three game skid.
The win moves Orlando into the second slot in the MLS Eastern Conference standings, 5 points behind the first place New England Revolution.
Michel was able to score for Orlando after Maurcio Pareyra slid a bell past the Philadelphia back line to Benji, giving him a one on one chance which he deftly shot past Matt Freese for a goal in the tenth minute.
“I’m going to be honest. Props to Nani, because we were on the same side and he said, ‘Benji go inside,’” Michel said. “And so I started to creep inside and the space opened up. And right when the space opened up, Mauricio saw me, and I was able to take it first touch. I stumbled a bit but I was able to keep my cool and slot it in.”
Orlando managed a second goal in the 59th minute when Pereyra served a nice ball into the area from the right to Andra Pereya who placed it inside of the left post. It was Pereya’s second goal in the past three matches.
“It’s a fantastic win in a very difficult game in front of our fans.” Said Orlando Coach Oscar Pareja. “We wanted them to enjoy another victory after a period where we have been suffering a lot, trying to get the squad healthy and trying to get everybody back. Today we faced a rival that has a lot of consistency in their ways and I think we were protagonists, especially in the first half. Fantastic match against a fantastic opponent and three points that we value a lot tonight.”
Chris Mueller broke the Club-record for all-time appearances as a Lion, passing former City midfielder Cristian Higuita (108) with his 109th appearance since being selected sixth-overall at the 2018 MLS SuperDraft.
Ironically, Mueller announced that he is leaving the club to play in Europe.
The crowd when silent when the Union managed a score and halved the Orlando lead in the 68th minute.
Daniel Gazdag found Olivier Mbaizo down the right flank, who crossed it into the area, finding the foot of Kacper Przybylko.
Philadelphia managed a furious push to score for the rest of the match which Orlando managed to fight off. Many the Union’s chances were wide or over the bar with a lot of set up play midfield.
Pereyra picked up a yellow card while trying to fend off Jose Martinez and will be suspended for yellow card accumulation for Sunday’s match.
Late in the game, a set piece ended up with Jansson on the ground in his penalty area having suffered what appeared to be a broken nose after his face hit Schlegel’s shoulder. It took several minutes for trainers to stop his nosebleed and the Swede’s nose was obviously crooked after the collision.
Philadelphia pushed until the end of the match, when Jack Elliott roamed forward and got a shot on target that forced a diving save from Gallese. Jack McGlynn tracked the ball down and sent it across the front of the goal line. Quinn Sullivan got to it at the far post first and seemed about to score but Smith blocked it with his face. Philadelphia sent in another cross that Przybylko headed on frame but again Gallese was there to make the stop.
“In the end we suffered more than we wanted,” Pareja said. “Philadelphia started pushing, putting their lines higher. We may remember that last play where they had that option, but also we had more opportunities, especially in the first half, when we could (have) put the game away.”
The Lions head to New York to take on New York City FC at Yankee Stadium on Sunday.