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In its second match of the season, Orlando City SC recorded a first ever home win over Philadelphia Union as they deservedly won 2-1 on Saturday evening in front of another sellout crowd at Orlando City Stadium. Cyle Larin (pictured above left) notched both goals and Carlos Rivas (pictured above right) earned his third assist of the season in his 50th career MLS appearance.
After last week’s postponed game it took the Lions a little while to get going but they took the lead in the 39th minute as Jonathan Spector found Rivas in space on the left flank who took a delightful couple of touches before crossing to Larin who made no mistake on the right hand post to give the home side a 1-0 advantage going into half time.
City’s back line, unchanged from its clean sheet victory over New York City on Opening Day, again looked strong but Philadelphia grabbed an equalizer in the 52nd minute when Alejandro Bedoya found CJ Sapong, who played four games on loan for Orlando in 2013, and he nodded home from close range.
Urged on by the 25,527 purple clad supporters in attendance, the Lions fought to maintain their perfect home record. The second goal came in the 73rd minute from a lovely one touch move from the back line that saw Spector find José Aja who then found Antonio Nocerino who in turn played the ball into Rivas to flick to Matías Pérez García who then released Larin in behind the Philly defence and the striker finished low to the right of Union keeper Andre Blake. It was the first goal scored at The Wall end of the stadium and the quality of it simply set the crowd alight.
Things might have been even better three minutes later as Orlando broke from a Philadelphia corner as Nocerino played a lovely ball to Rivas on the left wing. Rivas immediately played the ball over to García on the right hand side to stretch the visitors and he released Larin on the overlap. Just when a first hat-trick in the new stadium looked at his beck and call, Larin fired a powerful shot just over the crossbar.
The Union then pressed higher for an equalizer and came within inches of grabbing a point right at the end of injury time. A shot from Ilsinho outside the box rang off the far post and ricocheted across the face of goal. Seconds later, Orlando goalkeeper Joe Bendik came up with a huge save to deny Bedoya’s header from a Fafa Picault cross.
The match also saw Orlando City Pro Academy product Pierre da Silva make his MLS debut when he came on for Rivas in the 89th minute. Da Silva became the first player in Club history to climb from the Pro Academy to Orlando City B, the Club’s United Soccer League (USL) affiliate, and then to the First Team when he was signed on Jan. 20.
After the game Lions Head Coach Jason Kreis said: “It’s really pleasing to see Cyle get a couple goals. His partner up there, he deserves a couple as well so I wouldn’t want to say anything about the forwards without saying how important Carlos Rivas was to the performance tonight as well.”
“I really thought everyone’s effort was spectacular. I thought it was another really strong performance defensively, really from the entire group,” Kreis continued. “But from the back four, when you look at each individual player and how many important plays they made, headers they made, tackles they won in the box, being in the right place at the right time I’d say all four of those guys had big, big nights for us. Credit to the guys, they took it on.”
Philadelphia Union Head Coach Jim Curtin (pictured above) said “Obviously credit to Orlando and their fans and the atmosphere here because we started the first half very poorly. [Orlando’s defense] was all over us — we didn’t look like ourselves. Again, silly mistakes, silly turnovers. Even on free kicks, we weren’t dialed in. I thought in the second half we turned it around and had a good response coming out of halftime — got the goal. We pushed the game — had a couple chances for two [goals]. Orlando gets the second goal, yet we still continued, and then one goes off the post. Ilsinho hits the post and you walk away with no points. Overall, not a great performance from us — something we need to work on, some defensive things we need to work on as a team. I’m upset most of all by the start to the game because that wasn’t us.”
Orlando striker Cyle Larin said: “I have to keep doing what I’m doing, and it’s all because of my teammates. They help me and get me the ball when I make the run. It’s not all me. I just make sure I finish the ball. Each game I am getting better and better, and every time I score I get more confident. I think my fitness level helps me to do that. It helps me get to the ball. In the game, I am able to help my team out defensively, and that’s what they need. It was a physical match, but the crowd helped us out a lot. They were loud the whole game and pushed us to keep the lead.”
Union striker C.J. Sapong said: “Since I played here, I could have seen it happening, but you can never really put it into a picture — what it could be — and today it was on another level. I know a lot of us on the field definitely took in the environment as much as possible. It’s a beautiful thing they have going on here, and it’s good for them but it’s also good for our league.”
MLS will now go on an eight-day hiatus for FIFA International dates from March 20-28. Afterwards City will travel to face Columbus Crew SC on Saturday, April 1, at 4 p.m. ET. The Lions then return to Orlando City Stadium on Sunday, April 9, when they host the New York Red Bulls.
Orlando City SC – GK Joe Bendik, D Donny Toia, Jonathan Spector, José Aja, Ⓒ Will Johnson, M Antonio Nocerino, Servando Carrasco (Cristian Higuita 71’), Giles Barnes, Matías Pérez García (Hadji Barry 81’), F Carlos Rivas (Pierre Da Silva 89’), Cyle Larin
Substitutes Not Used: GK Josh Saunders, D Tommy Redding, PC, M Richie Laryea
Philadelphia Union – GK Andre Blake, D Fabinho, Richie Marquez, Oguchi Onyewu, Keegan Rosenberry, M Haris Medunjanin, Derrick Jones (Roland Alberg 77’), Ⓒ Alejandro Bedoya, Chris Pontius (Fafa Picault 86’), Fabian Herbers (Ilsinho 61’), F CJ Sapong
Substitutes Not Used: GK John McCarthy, D Raymon Gaddis, Jack Elliott, M Warren Creavalle
More photographs at FloridaLeisurePhotography.com