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Orlando City fights off Chicago Fire for 1-0 win

Orlando City fights off Chicago Fire for 1-0 win
Orlando, Florida, USA, August 21, 2021, Orlando City SC forward Benji Michel #19 celebrate after scoring against Chicago Fire at Exploria Stadium. (Photo Credit: Marty Jean-Louis)

ORLANDO, FL – Orlando City SC (9-4-7 34 points) scored first and fought off Chicago Fire FC (5-11-5 20 points) for a 1-0 win in front of a crowd of over 15,500 fans at Exploria stadium on Saturday night. The streak continues a extends Chicago’s road winless streak to 19 and is Orlando’s 5th straight match without a loss.

The match was initially delayed by lightening in the area and started 45 min late. a Steady rain came down in a good part of the first half with the skies opening up towards half time. This was great for scoring and offense, but made defenses stances a little slippery.

The Lions scored the games only goal when Benji Michel broke lose with the ball after Tesho Akindele managed to disposes the Fire with a steal. Michel charged at the ball and managed to put a shot into the lower left corner for his fourth goal of the season.

Orlando City fights off Chicago Fire for 1-0 win
Orlando, Florida, USA, August 21, 2021, Orlando City SC forward Benji Michel #19 shoots and scores against Chicago Fire at Exploria Stadium. (Photo Credit: Marty Jean-Louis)

The scoring wasn’t easy for Orlando as Chicago kept their front line back for most of the match, making it tough for the Lions to find space to operate.

Chicago had many of their chances taken away by Orlando defenders, and rookie Mason Stajduhar made 5 saves on some of the 18 shots taken by the Fire. Mason managed to make a bunch of crucial saves in the final minutes of the match, as Chicago had a string of corner kicks.

Orlando City fights off Chicago Fire for 1-0 win
Orlando, Florida, USA, August 21, 2021, Orlando City SC player Ruan #2 defends the ball at Exploria Stadium. (Photo Credit: Marty Jean-Louis)

“Mason has patience.” Said Orlando Head Coach Oscar Pareja. ” He’s been hard at work since he came here. He came through for us today when we needed him the most.”

This was the first clean sheet for Mason.

Orlando City fights off Chicago Fire for 1-0 win
Orlando, Florida, USA, August 21, 2021, Orlando City SC Goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar #31 punches the ball at Exploria Stadium. (Photo Credit: Marty Jean-Louis)

There was a play in Stajduhar jumped forward to catch an attempt when Nnamdi Chinoso Offor’s head hit him in his chest. Mason secured the ball and then crumpled to the ground. It was assumed that the air was knocked out of his lungs.

Nani asked to be substituted out in the ‘ minute after struggling and eventually just sitting down on the field. Coach Pareja stated that Nani felt “Some tightness” and decided to play it safe and be taken out of the game.

Orlando City fights off Chicago Fire for 1-0 win
Orlando, Florida, USA, August 21, 2021, Orlando City SC Captain Luis Nani #17 makes a pass during the match at Exploria Stadium. (Photo Credit: Marty Jean-Louis)

“It was a tough game. There was a lot of back and forth.” Said Joey Dezart. “But towards the end of the first half and beginning of the second half, we figured it out and managed to win the game.”

Orlando City returns to the field on Friday August 27 in Orlando to face Inter Miami CF.

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