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Orlando City SC (12-13-8, 44 points) staged a dramatic second half comeback with two goals from rookie Cyle Larin (pictured above) to defeat fellow expansion side New York City FC 2-1 Friday night. The result extended the Club’s winning streak to five matches, giving the Lions a full head of steam going into its final regular season game against the Union in Philadelphia on Oct. 25.
Orlando City controlled much of the first half of play, attacking NYCFC relentlessly in the final third. The Lions outshot New York 8-5 in the first half, and controlled overall possession by a margin of 54-46. Despite the offensive effort, New York was able to sneak in a goal minutes before the end of the 45 on a rebound by Kwame Watson-Siriboe, following a questionable corner kick call.
At the start of the second half, Orlando City increased its attacking pressure and finally found the back of the net for the equalizer. Corey Ashe galloped up the right side of the field and delivered a perfect cross which Cyle Larin redirected past the outstretched arms of NYCFC goalkeeper Josh Saunders. Eight minutes later, Larin registered his second goal after receiving the ball from Adrian Winter. Winter’s initial shot was saved by Bush, but the Swiss international shuffled the rebound to an open Larin for the easy tap in. Larin is now tied for third in MLS with 17 goals on the season.
Goalkeeper Josh Ford made his MLS debut in the 84th minute, entering the game for Tally Hall, who injured his right knee. Following the victory, the Lions’ players and coaching staff took a lap around the field to thank the fans who supported the Club so feverishly in its inaugural season.
“Obviously we’re delighted with the result. It’s never easy winning a game of football that you know you have to win, and I thought the response of the players was incredible,” said Lions Head Coach Adrian Heath (pictured above.) “The desire of the guys to go and get a result was absolutely incredible. I’m pleased for every single one of them. They’ve been unbelievable the past few weeks and we’re going to take it to the last game. And as I always say, we have the best fans in the league. For us to have this support after one year in the league, is incredible and they never cease to amaze me. They were there again tonight and I thought the atmosphere was electric in the stadium. I couldn’t be more proud of our supporters.”
8’ An early cross from Rivas ricocheted off Winter to the feet of Cyle Larin, whose effort skipped just wide of the target.
15’ After intercepting an errant pass in New York’s half, Rivas was brought down from behind by NYCFC midfielder Ned Grabavoy, resulting in a dangerous free-kick for the Lions.
17’ Ceren’s ensuing set-piece navigated its way through the box to find Seb Hines, who hit a volley high of the target.
22’ New York manager Jason Kreis was forced to use his first substitution of the night when Grabavoy went down with an injury, bringing on Mehdi Ballouchy as his replacement.
27’ Lewis Neal appeared to be brought down in the box by Mix Diskerud on a corner kick but the referee signaled play on.
35’ City’s best chance of the half came when Winter collected the ball in the box and fired a chance that deflected inches wide of the far post.
38’ Winter created another close chance for the Lions when he drove deep into New York’s penalty area before pulling it back to Neal on the edge of the six. The ball was played a bit ahead of the Englishman, who only managed to connect with it slightly – poking it wide.
41’ Moments before halftime, the chances continued to pour in for the Lions when Rivas’ cross found Larin, who was unmarked on the back should of the defender. The Canadian’s header forced a tough save from Saunders at the near post.
45’ New York broke through just before the end of the half when the ball found its way to Kwame Watson-Siriboe in the box from a short corner, and the defender struck a first-time volley into the back of the net.
45 (+2) At the end of the half, the Lions went into the break down 1-0, despite dominating possession 54-46 and chances 8-5.
50’ Larin pounced on a loose ball in the box and struck a powerful shot to the near-post that narrowly missed the target.
52’ Orlando City announced that 43, 179 fans were in attendance – the second highest crowd at the Citrus Bowl this season – extending City’s home average to 32,847, the highest ever for an expansion team.
62’ After a difficult start to the game with chances going just wide of the post, Larin leveled the score when he ran on to a well-placed ball from Ashe, flicking it past Saunders to notch his 16th goal of his rookie season.
70’ Orlando took the lead on a quick counter-attack when Winter escaped in behind on a broken play and fired a shot which was saved by Saunders. The ball rebounded directly back to the Swiss midfielder who unselfishly laid it across for Larin for a comfortable finish.
74’ The Lions nearly took a 3-1 lead after Cyle appeared to sneak in a goal to register the hat-trick. However, the ball was quickly put back in play by NYCFC, and the referee ruled it a non-goal.
80’ With ten minutes remaining, Heath brought on Bryan Rochez for Larin, who received a standing ovation from the City supporters for his clinical performance.
85’ A scary moment occurred for the Lions when Tally Hall went down injured, gripping his knee. Heath was forced to use his final sub, introducing Josh Ford who made his first league appearance.
90 (+4) After four minutes of stoppage time, the referee blew the final whistle – resulting in City’s fifth consecutive win.
Orlando City SC – GK Tally Hall (Josh Ford 85’), D Corey Ashe, Aurelien Collin, Seb Hines, Luke Boden, M Darwin Ceren, Cristian Higuita, Adrian Winter, Carlos Rivas, Lewis Neal (Servando Carrasco 75’), F Cyle Larin (Bryan Rochez 80’)
Unused Subs: D David Mateos, M Eric Avila, Harrison Heath, F Pedro Ribeiro
New York City FC – GK Josh Saunders, D Jefferson Mena, Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Chris Wingert, M Javier Calle (Kwando Poku 75’), Mix Diskerud, Ned Grabavoy (Mehdi Ballouchy 21’), Andrew Jacobson, Frank Lampard, Thomas McNamara (Khiry Shelton 65’), F David Villa
Unused Subs: GK Erik Johansen, GK Ryan Meara, D Jeb Brovsky, F Patrick Mullins
More photos at: www.FloridaLeisurePhotography.com