Orlando City falls to 5-3 defeat to Pirlo inspired New York


Despite a hat-trick from rookie forward Cyle Larin, Orlando City SC (6-9-6, 24 points) fell to defeat against New York City FC (6-9-6, 24 points) 5-3 in a highly entertaining game that included seven second half goals before 32,041 fans at Yankee Stadium.

Led by assistant coach Mark Watson, who was at the helm due to Adrian Heath’s suspension, Orlando City opened the game with a 3-4-3 formation, employing three center-backs to provide coverage for Spanish National Team’s all-time leading scorer, David Villa.

The match also marked the first time in MLS history that three FIFA World Cup winners played in the same game, as Italian great Andrea Pirlo made his league debut coming on as a 56th minute substitute.

For the majority of the first half, Orlando’s defense managed to keep Villa relatively quiet, however the forward was able to get onto the scoresheet in the final minute of the half as he scored with a quality finish from just inside the box as he turned the Orlando defence inside out.

The game went into overcharge in the second half as both teams ramped up their attacking threat leading to the exciting goal rampage.

Larin matched Villa’s effort with a goal very similar to the Spaniard’s, battling one-on-one with Jefferson Mena before calmly tucking the ball away at the near-post in the 50th minute. Three minutes later New York retook the lead as Thomas McNamara found Javier Calle on the back-post for a simple tap-in.

With the score at 2-1 to New York, Pirlo was introduced and he would go onto play an important role in the time remaining but not before Carlos Rivas got away on the left wing and put in an excellent cross for Larin to net his second in the 61st minute.

The end-to-end action continued in the 66th minute when Villa and McNamara scored two goals in a four-minute span. Pirlo played a crucial role in both goals and for the third he took a ball midway inside his own half. With a neat pass the Italian international found Poku who in turn released Villa who cut inside a series of Orlando defenders to fire a shot inside the right hand post. It was slack defending from Orlando and Pirlo and Poku then repeated the trick in the 70th minute, this time feeding the eager McNamara who delivered a lethal strike to the top left corner of the net to make it 4-2 to the home side.

Orlando bounced straight back though and Lions newcomer Servando Carrasco brought an excellent save from New York keeper Josh Saunders after being released by a subdued Kaká in the 76th minute. From the resulting corner Saunders then poleaxed Larin with his challenge as he got nowhere near the ball but the referee simply waved play on instead of giving the clear cut penalty.

This seemed to inspire Larin who then produced a stunning strike in the 84th minute as he received a Kaká pass. In one movement he took the ball and blasted a superb right footed strike into the top right corner from the edge of the penalty area for his first professional hat-trick, leaving goalkeeper Josh Saunders stranded.

The game ebbed and flowed and only Sean St. Ledger will know how he failed to convert a Martin Paterson cross in the 88th minute to tie the game up.

Orlando pressed forward and in the final minute of the game, Kaká almost recreated his free-kick magic from the first meeting between both teams on March 8, by hitting a set-piece from outside the box that rattled off the right hand post. With Orlando pushing numerous players forward to search for the equalizer, New York ventured on the counter as Darwin Ceren lost the ball outside the box. Mix Diskerud picked up the ball and fed Villa who in turn fed Poku inside the 18 yard box. Poku then unselfishly fed the ball back across the six yard box to Diskerud who tapped home for the final goal of the game and New York’s fifth.

There was no way back for Orlando after that and after the game Watson remarked, “It’s obviously disappointing. We had a chance to make it 4-4 in the 93rd minute. So to come off losing the game 5-3 is disappointing. Defensively, we weren’t quite good enough, conceding five goals, but I think the fight back on a couple of occasions was good from our guys, and that’s what we’ll take out of the game.”

First Half : 

12’ Orlando’s first real threatening chance occurred when Cyle Larin broke free toward goal, batting with one-on-one Andrew Jacobson before tucking the ball into the back of the net. However,  the rookie was called for a foul, disallowing an early goal for the Lions.

14’ NYCFC head coach Jason Kreis was forced to use his first substitution of the game when defender Chris Wingert down with a hamstring injury, bringing on Jefferson Mena.

20’ Orlando had a prime goal-scoring opportunity when Kaka’s free-kick found both Cyle Larin and Sean St. Ledger unmarked on the back-post, but neither player was able to connect with the Brazilian’s set-piece.

30’ An errant back-pass to Tally Hall fifteen minutes before halftime nearly proved costly for Orlando when the goalkeeper’s clearance was blocked Javier Calle, skipping just past the target.

34’ City continued knocking on the door in the 34th minute after crafty play from Kaka in the final third, finding Rivas deep in NYCFC’s box. The Colombian fired an effort across the six but pulled it wide of the far post.

38’ With both teams finding their rhythm in the game, Angelino responded for New York when he ran on to a clipped ball in the box, firing wide of the frame.

44’ One minute before the end of the first half, a moment of brilliance from David Villa, who was held relatively quiet by the City defense in the opening 45, produced the game’s opening goal when he clinically tucked the ball into the back of net.

Second Half :

50’ Cyle Larin matched Villa’s near-post finish with a spectacular goal to open the second half strongly for Orlando City. Similar to the Spaniard, Larin battled one-on-one with Mena before blasting a low, left-footed, effort into the back of the net.

53’ However, New York responded quickly, scoring three minutes later when Thomas McNamara found Javier Calle on the back-post for a tap-in.

55’ Shortly afterward, Kreis introduced Italian legend Andrea Pirlo for his first-ever MLS match, marking the first time in league history that three World Cup winners have been on the field at the same time.

61’ The exciting back and forth affair continued in the 61st minute when rookie Cyle Larin scored a comfortable finish for his second goal of the game. The play started with Darwin Ceren’s probing ball to find Rivas surging in behind. The speedy Colombian played the ball across the box to Larin who snuck it past Saunders.

63’ With the game starting to open up, Rivas broke free for another breakaway chance, opting to fire at the target but his low effort went wide of the far post.

66’ Villa secured his brace in the 66th minute after receiving Poku’s pass, hitting an effort that was deflected off the City defense and into the back of the net.

70’ New York City capitalized in a breakdown in the Lions’ defense when Poku set McNamara up for their fourth goal of the game.

74’ Mark Watson introduced veteran striker Martin Paterson for Eric Avila, as the Lions fought to battle their way back into the game.

75’ Servando Carrasco came close to providing the spark for City after receiving Kaka’s through-ball, forcing Josh Saunders to make a very difficult save at the near-post. Cyle Larin’s header on the ensuing corner-kick was cleared off the line by the NYCFC defense.

84’ Larin continued to will Orlando with every effort, blasting a superb strike into the top corner, capably beating Saunders who was left standing still to record his first professional hat-trick.

88’ Sean St. Ledger was nearly the hero for the City faithful when his diving header came close to finding the back of the net.

90’ The referee added four minutes of stoppage time, providing Orlando with hope of getting an equalizer.

92’ Kaka almost recreated his free-kick magic in stoppage time from the first meeting between both teams, hitting a set-piece from outside the box that rattled off the post. With Orlando committing numerous players forward to search for the equalizer, New York ventured on the counter with Mix Diskerud scoring the final goal for the home side.


New York City FC – GK Josh Saunders, D Andoni, Iraola, Shay Facey, Chris Wingert, Angelino, M Andrew Jacobson, Javier Calle (Mix Diskerud), Mehdi Ballouchy (Andrea Pirlo 55’), Kwadwo Poku, Thomas McNamara, F David Villa

Orlando City SC – GK Tally Hall, D Seb Hines, Aurelien Collin, Sean St. Ledger, M Corey Ashe, Eric Avila (Martin Paterson 74’) Darwin Ceren, Servando Carrasco, F Carlos Rivas (Pedro Ribeiro 81’), Cyle Larin, Kaka

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