Orlando City & New York City open 2019 MLS season with entertaining draw

The 2019 MLS Season opened at Orlando City Stadium on Saturday afternoon as Orlando City and New York City entertained a capacity 25,527 crowd with a 2-2 draw.

This was the third time in five years the clubs have opened the MLS season against one another. In 2015, the two then expansion clubs played out a 1-1 draw with the Lion’s equalizer coming in injury time when former FIFA World Player of the Year Kaká scored from a free kick. Two years later, Orlando celebrated the opening of Orlando City Stadium as they celebrated a 1-0 victory when Cyle Larin scored after 15 minutes.

The 2019 game started with a new look Orlando controlling the early play and looking to move the ball around with greater urgency and purpose. It was the visitors who opened the scoring though as Ebenezer Ofori saw his 13th minute shot from distance go in off the far post. Alexander Ring then made it 2-0 in first-half stoppage time as he got behind the defence before chipping over Orlando debutant goalkeeper Brian Rowe.

Half Time: Orlando City 0 New York City 2

After the break, Chris Mueller pulled a goal back for the men in purple in the 59th minute as his free kick from the edge of the 18-yard box went untouched and slotted into the back of the net. Orlando Head Coach James O’Connor (pictured top photograph) then introduced Dom Dwyer as well as new signing, Nani, to the game in the 70th minute and the two combined just five minutes later to give Tesho Akindele an easy slide in tap-in to level the game. It was the last action for Akindele as he then hobbled off the field holding his hamstring area.

Moments later, Orlando nearly had an opportunity to take the lead as Mueller sent a cross to Dwyer at the back post. Dwyer headed the ball down in front of the goal and the ball appeared to bounce off NYCFC centerback Maxime Chanot’s out stretched arm but despite protests from the home side, referee Baldomero Toledo reviewed the play and no penalty was given.

After the game O’Connor said: “I thought we were extremely unlucky to go in 2-nil down. I think, when you look at the balance of play in the first half, we had a load of possession. We were camped in their half. We had multiple good opportunities. I think we were all a little frustrated to go in 2-nil down. I think, when you look at the balance of play and the way the first half went, we felt as if we didn’t deserve to be 2-nil down, but we were 2-nil down.

“Like we said, you either sit and feel sorry for yourself or you get out and you keep believing and you keep pushing and you keep doing the things we’d spoken about. I think we were very unfortunate not to go on and win the game at the end.”

The Lions will face their first road test next week, traveling to take on the Chicago Fire at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 9 at SeatGeek Stadium.

Lineups/Substitutions:

Orlando City SC – GK Brian Rowe;  D Alex de John, Shane O’Neill, Kamal Miller; M Will Johnson, Danilo Acosta, Kyle Smith (Dom Dwyer 69’), Sebastián Méndez (Nani 70’), ⓒ Sacha Kljestan; F Tesho Akindele (Josué Colmán 77’), Chris Mueller

Substitutes Not Used: GK Greg Ranjitsingh; D Carlos Ascues; M Oriol Rosell; Cristian Higuita

New York City FC – GK Sean Johnson; D Ben Sweat (Tony Rocha 78’), Anton Tinnerholm, Maxime Chanot, Alexander Callens; M James Sands (M Keaton Parks 88’), Alexander Ring, Maxi Moralez, Ebenezer Ofori, F Jonathan Lewis (Jesus Medina 72’), Alexandru Mitrițӑ

Substitutes Not Used: GK Brad Stuver; D Sebastien Ibeagha; M Valentin Castellanos; F Ismael Tajouri-Shradi

Attendance: 25,527

More photos at www.FloridaLeisurePhotography.com

 

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