New York, NY – On Wednesday night, Orlando City SC (14-7-8, 50 points) faced off against New York City FC (7-10-13, 30 points) at Citi Field, hoping to secure a victory that would have solidified their playoff position in the Audi 2023 MLS Playoffs. However, a 2-0 defeat did not deter the Lions’ postseason aspirations, as a simultaneous result in another match ensured their spot in the playoffs.
The Lions, led by head coach Oscar Pareja, have been a consistent force in the MLS over the past few years, and this marks their fourth consecutive appearance in the postseason, a testament to their continued competitiveness in the league.
The scoring action in the match began in the 37th minute when a penalty kick was awarded to New York City FC after Santiago Rodríguez was fouled. Orlando City goalkeeper Pedro Gallese managed to block Rodríguez’s initial attempt, but Mounsef Bakrar was quick to capitalize on the rebound, putting NYCFC ahead 1-0.
In the second half, NYCFC extended their lead in the 68th minute with a well-executed play. Santiago Rodríguez initiated a pass down the wing to Andres Jasson, who skillfully dribbled past defenders before delivering a precise cross into the box. Talles Magno met the cross with a looping header that found the top corner of the net, making it 2-0 in favor of NYCFC.
Despite the disappointing result, head coach Oscar Pareja acknowledged the significance of clinching a playoff spot while reflecting on the mixed feelings of the night. He praised his team for their determination throughout the season and the achievement of securing a postseason berth.
Pareja said, “It is mixed feelings right now. Obviously, in this long run as we are about to finish the season with five games still to play, to clinch now is a tremendous achievement from our team and our Club and our fans. We would have loved to celebrate that with a victory today and a better result and a better performance, but we couldn’t. We have no excuses. We are responsible for the good and the things we did not do good.”
He continued, “The boys have a lot of respect for days like these on which we do not perform the best. We played against a good team. I think they had the best chances as we only had a few. We were not sharp in that end, but we were not sharp in our defensive side either. We will take the best out of this game and we will move on.”
Looking ahead, Orlando City SC will focus on their upcoming match against intrastate rival Inter Miami CF, scheduled for Sunday, September 24, at Exploria Stadium. This fixture marks the third meeting between the two teams this season, with both sides having secured a victory in their previous encounters. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET, and fans can catch the action on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV or nationally on FS1.
In addition to securing a playoff spot, the match also saw Gastón González make his return to the pitch as a substitute in the 80th minute after a hiatus since June 21. Head Coach Oscar Pareja made two changes to the starting lineup compared to their previous match against the Columbus Crew, with Wilder Cartagena and Facundo Torres earning starts.
As the Lions prepare for their next showdown, their loyal fan base can look forward to an exciting clash against Inter Miami CF, with Orlando City SC aiming to build momentum as they approach the Audi 2023 MLS Playoffs.