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Cyle Larin gave Orlando City SC the boost they needed to secure a 2-1 victory in front of 34,081 fans at Camping World Stadium earlier this evening. The win stretched Orlando City’s home unbeaten streak to 12 games.
“Obviously delighted for everybody concerned. Really pleased for the players,” Lions head coach Adrian Heath said. “Delighted for our supporters, who I thought were incredible again tonight. The energy in the stadium really drove the players on. There were tired bodies out there, a lot of little knocks and it would have been easy for the group to have felt sorry for themselves going down a goal so early on. They kept going all night, and that’s what I said to them. Regardless of what happens, we have to keep going until the final whistle. Don’t give in. And they didn’t. They got their rewards.”
The evening started badly for the men in purple as Montreal took advantage of some slack defending to take a fourth minute lead though Ignacio Piatti’s shot that was deflected by Servando Carrasco past his own keeper, Joe Bendik.
Montreal looked the better team throughout the first half but Orlando City held strong to fight back with a huge goal in the waning minutes of the half after Larin earned a free kick running onto a ball down the left wing. Kaká delivered a perfectly placed ball into the box for Larin, who flicked it cleverly inside the far post for the equalizer.
The Lions’ intensity kicked up a notch in the second half, continually threatening the Montreal goal. Their efforts finally paid off in the 87th minute when Cristian Higuita chipped a ball to Kaká on the edge of the box, who chested it to second-half substitute Júlio Baptista. The Brazilian flicked it back to Kaká and Kaká crossed to Larin on the far post for the game winner. It was Larin’s sixth goal of the season and he maintains his position of being top scorer for the club in 2016.
It was a crucial goal that led to a massive three points for the Lions as they keep in the hunt for a cherished play off place but the team had much to thank Goalkeeper Joe Bendik for after another impressive performance as he made several big saves to keep the match level. His best save came in the 78th minute minute when an Ambroise Oyongo shot was deflected on its way to net. Bendik , going the wrong way, managed to parry the shot away with one hand and then managed to deal with a follow up close-range shot from Johan Venegas just moments later.
This was the first of three matches in the span of eight days for the Lions. Orlando City returns to Camping World Stadium on Wednesday, May 25, to host the Philadelphia Union for a 7:30 p.m. E.T. kickoff before traveling to face New York City FC on Sunday, May 29.
Orlando City SC – GK Joe Bendik, D Rafael Ramos (Kevin Alston 34’), David Mateos, Seb Hines (Tommy Redding 40’), Brek Shea, M Cristian Higuita, Servando Carrasco, Carlos Rivas, Kaká, Adrian Winter (Júlio Baptista 75’), F Cyle Larin
Substitutes: GK Earl Edwards Jr., D Kevin Alston, Luke Boden, M Antonio Nocerino, Kevin Molino
Montreal Impact – GK Evan Bush, D Ambroise Oyongo, Laurent Ciman, Wandrille Lefèvre, Hassoun Camara (Maxim Tissot 86’), M Kyle Bekker, Marco Donadel, Ignacio Piatti, Johan Venegas (Michael Salazar 79’), Lucas Ontivero (Harry Shipp 66’), F Dominic Oduro
Substitutes: GK Maxime Crépeau, D Kyle Fisher, M Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé, Patrice Bernier