New York City takes all three points with victory in Orlando

If James O’Connor wasn’t fully aware of the problems facing him when he took the Orlando City Soccer Head Coach position on 29th June 2018, he will be now. Just one month after his appointment, Orlando City turned in the worst first half performance of his short tenure and the two goals they conceded in the last five minutes of that period ultimately cost them the game.

“I think when you look at the contrast between the first and the second half, it comes down to mentality.” said O’Connor.

It was a succinct point as his players started the game in tentative fashion. The Lion’s never got going and had just 42% of the first half possession as they struggled to cope with New York City’s midfield that saw the excellent Alexander Ring and Ebenezer Ofori take control of the game. The only surprise was that it took the men in sky blue forty minutes to score the opening goal and when it came it did so with a touch of fortune.

The move started in the New York half after Dom Dwyer gave away possession and Ofori was able to play a thirty yard ball to Jesus Medina. The Paraguayan flicked a hopeful ball forward in the direction of Maximiliano Morález who was being marked by Shane O’Neill. The ball rebounded off O’Neill and landed at the feet of Rodney Wallace who failed to control it properly. After bouncing around a little, Victor “PC” Viro attempted to clear the ball but only succeeded in hitting Wallace and the ball flew towards the Orlando goal, evading keeper Earl Edwards Jr., hitting the post and falling nicely for Morález to tap in.

The second goal came just as the game entered first half stoppage time as Yoshimnar Yotún gave the ball away on the left hand side near the halfway line. New York quickly and efficiently worked the ball to the opposite side of the field for Anton Tinnerholm to take into the penalty area, avoid PC’s weak challenge, and slot into the far corner of the net. It was a devastating blow but one the visitors deserved such had been their dominance of play.

Half Time: Orlando City 0 New York City FC 2

The second half saw a huge improvement from the home side. In the 59th minute some last ditch defending by New York stopped Chris Mueller just as he was about to shoot and two minutes later Yotún hit the post from seven yards out to put with his 38th minute strike that had hit the crossbar. Orlando were swamping the visitors goal and both Dwyer and Yotún went close again moments later but it seemed that it was going to be one of those nights when nothing would go right.

In the 78th minute, Orlando hit the woodwork again as Sacha Kljestan found himself on the left hand side byline and he cut the ball back to Chris Schuler. The defender took a first time shot that hit New York’s Ben Sweat and rebounded off the crossbar to then be hooked to safety. Orlando would hit the woodwork for a forth time on the night in the 89th minute as substitute Josué Colmán worked his way into the right hand side of the penalty area before hitting a cross come shot against the crossbar. Sandwiched in between was a deserved straight red card, after video review, for Orlando’s O’Neill for raking his studs down the shin of Morález.

After the game O’Connor commented: “I’m serious, I want to win. This is really frustrating for myself, for the staff, for the players. We’re not just saying it, we want to win… so when you don’t win, it’s really frustrating.” He then went onto compliment the tremendous support his side had received from home supporters.

“I look at the supporters when we’re 2-0 down and the passion they are showing, the support, the noise in the stadium, I mean it’s absolutely incredible. When you actually look at that midway through the second half the supporters are absolutely on their feet, chanting, roaring, really supporting the team. It gets to the point that there is a desperation to want to do well for those supporters. I ask them to just stick with us as a club. We’re going through a difficult time but I can promise you things will get better.”

Hopefully things will get better. Signs of improvement are there and defensively the team is much better than it was just a few weeks ago. The biggest question now comes back to the mentality of this team and whether they can overcome all the recent defeats and start getting some wins under their belt. For that to happen there will need to be significant improvement from the experienced players in the camp and that means players like Kljestan and Johnson standing up and leading their colleagues forward.

Full Time: Orlando City 0 New York City FC 2

Lineups/Substitutions:
Orlando City SC – GK Earl Edwards, Jr., D PC, Chris Schuler, Shane O’Neill, RJ Allen, M Cristian Higuita (Tony Rocha 67’), Will Johnson (Josué Colmán 82’), Yoshimar Yotún, ⓒ Sacha Kljestan, Chris Mueller (Stéfano Pinho 71’), F Dom Dwyer

Substitutes Not Used: GK Joe Bendik, D Scott Sutter, Donny Toia, Amro Tarek

New York City FC – GK Sean Johnson, D Ben Sweat, Alex Callens, Maxime Chanot, Anton Tinnerholm, M Ebenezer Ofori, Alex Ring, Rodney Wallace (Jonathan Lewis 71’), Maxi Morález (Jo Inge Berget 88’), ⓒ Thomas McNamara (Ismael Tajouri-Shradi 63’), F Jesús Medina

Substitutes Not Used: GK Brad Stuver, D Sebastien Ibeagha, Ronald Matarrita, M Kwame Awuah

Attendance: 23,790

More photos at www.FloridaLeisurePhotography.com

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