Orlando City falls in final game of season to Chicago Fire

Orlando City SC fell 5-2 to the Chicago Fire in its 2019 MLS season finale on Sunday afternoon at Exploria Stadium. Tesho Akindele and Benji Michel each scored for the Lions in the match but it was the Fire who took the points with a decisive second half display.

Both teams entered the match having already been eliminated from reaching the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs, but with many questions swirling around both teams’ future plans, the visiting Fire ended on a far better note than the Lions.

Orlando opened the scoring in the fifth minute, with Tesho Akindele’s shot, which caromed off the post and deflected off Fire goalkeeper Kenneth Kronholm on the way in. The goal was initially ruled out due to an apparent offside in the buildup, but Video Review overturned that call and the goal stood.

Chicago equalized in the 17th minute, as both Kyle Smith and CJ Sapong stretched for a crossed ball in front of goal with the Orlando defender getting credit for the final touch.

The teams battled for the go-ahead goal in the second half and Orlando should have had a penalty as Michel was clearly pushed in the back as he was about to turn the ball into an empty net. Strangely, referee Pierre-Luc Lauziere, in his first MLS game, ruled there was no foul and the visitors breathed a sigh of relief.  The Fire made the most of the escape as Sapong got his tally just after the hour mark, with a smart tap in from a Fabian Herbers cross. Moments later, Aleksandar Katai nabbed a third with a nifty dribble and cut to finish, while Przemyslaw Frankowski produced a backheel from near the penalty spot to make it 4-1 to the visitors.

Benji Michel then scored a consolation goal for Orlando, before Frankowski added another to cap off a fine victory for the visitors.

After the game Orlando Head Coach James O’Connor said: “Obviously very disappointing finish to the season. I think obviously today we knew it was going to be difficult, we were missing Lamine [Sané], got a sickness through the week and then Robin [Jansson] obviously going off injured. I think when that happens, you’ve got your two first choice center backs that are out, especially for how those two have done throughout the course of the year. I think both of them have been exceptional this year. I think even despite conceding all those goals, I think those two have had a really good year, but it’s just a really bitter way to finish the season.”

Lineups/Substitutions:

Orlando City SC – GK Brian Rowe; D Ruan (Chris Mueller 81’), Kyle Smith, Robin Jansson (Shane O’Neill 37’), Kamal Miller; M Will Johnson (Sacha Kljestan 55’), Mauricio Pereyra, Uri Rosell; F Benji Michel, Tesho Akindele, Nani ©

Substitutes Not Used: GK Adam Grinwis; M Carlos Ascues, Sebastián Méndez; F Dom Dwyer

Chicago Fire – GK Kenneth Kronholm; D Johan Kappelhof, Francisco Calvo, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Jonathan Bornstein (Djordje Mihailović 66’); M Dax McCarty ©, Nico Gaitan (Fabian Herbers 46’), Przemyslaw Frankowski, Brandt Bronico; F Aleksandar Katai, C.J. Sapong (Nemanja Nikolić 70’)

Substitutes Not Used: GK Richard Sanchez; D Marcelo; M Jeremiah Gutjahr, Michael Azira

Attendance: 22,433

More photos at www.FloridaLeisurePhotography.com

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