Atlanta stuns Orlando City with victory at Orlando City Stadium

Orlando City Soccer 0 Atlanta United 1, Orlando City Stadium, Orlando, 21st July 2017 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

A thunderous strike in the 86th minute by Atlanta’s Hector Villalba was the difference between two closely matched sides at Orlando City Stadium on Friday night. The stunning winner gave Atlanta United a fourth consecutive MLS victory while Orlando have now lost their last two home games.

Orlando City Soccer 0 Atlanta United 1, Orlando City Stadium, Orlando, 21st July 2017 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

“I didn’t imagine to score a goal like that,” Villalba said of the goal that settled the first ever match up of the only two MLS teams in the southeastern United States . “I received the ball. There was a player right in front of me. I turned and took a shot on goal. I wanted it to be on goal, but not necessarily right there.”

The visitors entered the match a point ahead of Orlando City in the standings and enjoyed 55% of the possession without ever creating much of a goal threat as Orlando defended deeper than normal to conquer the pace of the Atlanta attacking line. Orlando, meanwhile, were missing Cyle Larin although he was on the substitutes bench after playing 56 minutes for Canada in their defeat to Jamaica in the CONCACAF Gold Cup the night before.

Orlando City Soccer 0 Atlanta United 1, Orlando City Stadium, Orlando, 21st July 2017 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

“This is getting more and more difficult,” Orlando City coach Jason Kreis said after the match. “Obviously, very disappointed with the result, but this is one where I would say I’m very pleased with the performance. The tough job about being a professional soccer coach is nobody remembers the performance except for the coaching staff and players. When you lose you lose.”

The match followed the Special Olympics Unified Sports closed-door friendly between Special Olympics Florida and Special Olympics Georgia. The teams, which were made up of Special Olympics athletes and Unified teammates (players without intellectual disabilities), played two 20-minute halves with seven a side. Orlando City and Special Olympics Florida also participated in a Special Olympics Unified match in Chicago in August 2016.

Orlando City will face Atlanta United again next Saturday, July 29, at 4:30 p.m. ET when the Lions visit Bobby Dodd Stadium. City then heads to Montreal and New York City before returning home to host Columbus on Saturday, Aug. 19.

Lineups/Substitutions:

Orlando City SC – GK Joe Bendik, D Donny Toia, Jonathan Spector, José Aja, Scott Sutter, M ⓒ Kaká, Antonio Nocerino (Richie Laryea 88’), Cristian Higuita, Will Johnson, F Giles Barnes (Cyle Larin 72’), Carlos Rivas

Substitutes Not Used: GK Josh Saunders, D Léo Pereira, Tommy Redding, M Luis Gil, Servando Carrasco

Atlanta United FC – GK Brad Guzan, D Greg Garza, Leandro González Pirez, ⓒ Michael Parkhurst, Anton Walkes, M Jeff Larentowicz, Carlos Carmona, Yamil Asad (Chris McCann 78’), Miguel Almirón, Julian Gressel (Brandon Vázquez 67’), F Héctor Villalba (Mikey Ambrose 89’)

Substitutes Not Used: GK Kyle Reynish, D Tyrone Mears, M Andrew Carleton, Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu

Attendance: 25,527

More photos from Orlando v Atlanta at www.FloridaLeisurePhotography.com

More photos from Special Olympics Florida v Georgia at www.FloridaLeisurePhotography.com

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