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Orlando City SC (3-1-0, 9 points) continued its excellent home form with a narrow 1-0 victory over New York Red Bulls (2-3-1, 7 points) in front of a sell out crowd at Orlando City Soccer stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The Lions recorded another clean sheet as Servando Carrasco netted his first goal for club that turned out to be the game winning strike.
“In all three of the home matches I thought a lot of the same things after the match. So many positive statements to make about effort level, intensity level, commitment of the players to defend,” Lions Head Coach Jason Kreis said. “Real, real signs of togetherness and just a fortitude that says, ‘We won’t be broken at home.’”
Orlando might have found themselves a goal down in the 8th minute as Bradley Wright-Phillips wriggled his way into the box from the right flank and fired a low shot that was heading into the corner of the net until Lions keeper Joe Bendik pulled off a fine one handed save.
Four minutes later Wright-Phillips found himself in on goal as Felipe launched a superb long ball from the middle of his own half to the charging forward. Running between Tommy Redding and Jonathan Spector, Wright-Phillips attempted to chip the oncoming Bendik but the keeper pulled off a superb reaction save that then bounced back off the forward towards goal. Spector, tracking back, just managed to clear the ball away as it was about to enter the net.
In an exciting opening to the game, Orlando then went close in the 14th minute as Matías Pérez García fed Carlos Rivas on the left side of the penalty box. The striker hit a powerful left footed shot that Red Bulls keeper Luis Robles did well to save at full stretch to his left hand side.
Carrasco came on for Antonio Nocerino, who picked up a knee injury, in the 17th minute and in the 34th minute the midfielder found the net to give Orlando the lead with a smart header from a Will Johnson corner.
The Red Bulls came back strongly and on the stroke of half time Wright-Phillips had the ball in the net only for it to be correctly chalked off for offside.
Half Time : Orlando City Soccer 1 New York Red Bulls 0
The second half was a tale of very few clear cut opportunities for either team. Rivas wasted a couple of free kicks while the best opportunity for Orlando fell to Cyle Larin in the 52nd minute. A superbly flighted ball from Rivas on the left wing saw Larin sprinting in on goal but the Canadian International was unable to get a good connection on the ball and it sailed out for a goal kick.
In the 67th minute, Larin should have made it 2-0. Receiving a ball from Garcia just inside the Red Bulls half, he turned inside defender Sal Zizzo and sprinted for goal. The tall striker fired a shot towards the right hand side of goal but a fine save at a comfortable height by Robles denied Larin’s effort.
The Red Bulls dominated possession for most of the game but their 61.1% dominance rarely gave them a good look on goal. The home side rode their luck a little but they were able to keep the visitors potent attack at bay. The closest they came to grabbing an equalizer was in the 78th minute when Spector threw himself to ground to prevent a shot from Fredrik Gulbrandsen from hitting the target.
“I would say [Spector] is critical. We’ve played four matches now and I think he’s been outstanding in all four,” Kreis continued. “He’s a very consistent performer that’s leading the back line and that is exactly what we went into the offseason looking for. I think we got that one right.”
Full Time : Orlando City Soccer 1 New York Red Bulls 0
The Lions return home next Saturday, April 15, when they host the LA Galaxy. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. ET at Orlando City Stadium.
Orlando City SC – GK Joe Bendik, D Donny Toia, Jonathan Spector, Tommy Redding, Scott Sutter, M Antonio Nocerino (Servando Carrasco 17’), Cristian Higuita (Giles Barnes 69’), Matías Pérez García (Luis Gil 84’), Ⓒ Will Johnson, F Carlos Rivas, Cyle Larin
Substitutes Not Used: GK Josh Saunders, D Kevin Alston, PC, F Hadji Barry
New York Red Bulls – GK Luis Robles, D Sal Zizzo, Aurélien Collin, Aaron Long, Kemar Lawrence, M Felipe, Tyler Adams (Fredrik Gulbrandsen 75’), Daniel Royer, Sacha Kljestan, F Derrick Etienne (Alex Muyl 70’), Bradley Wright-Phillips
Substitutes Not Used: GK Ryan Meara, D Damien Perrinelle, Michael Amir Murillo, M Sean Davis
More photos at www.FloridaLeisurePhotography.com