Orlando City Soccer celebrates with 1-0 victory over New York City on landmark day!

Orlando City Soccer 1 New York City FC 0, Orlando City Soccer Stadium, Orlando, 5th March 2017 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

On a landmark day, Orlando City SC christened its brand-new stadium with a 1-0 victory over New York City FC in front of a sold-out crowd of 25,527.

A headed goal by Cyle Larin proved the difference for the Lions as they took the three points in their first MLS game of the 2017 season.

The game started with the home team looking lively but they suffered a devastating loss when Brazilian star Kaká was forced off with a hamstring injury in the 11th minute of the match. Head Coach Jason Kreis seemed downbeat about the setback after the match, saying: ‘It looks like this could be a very serious injury.’

Orlando City Soccer 1 New York City FC 0, Orlando City Soccer Stadium, Orlando, 5th March 2017 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

Substitute and Orlando debutante, Giles Barnes took full advantage of his opportunity as just four minutes after coming on he supplied a superb cross to the back post that Larin (pictured above) nodded home past New York goalkeeper Sean Johnson.

NYCFC then dominated possession but created no real clear cut chances until the 32nd minute when a clever flick by David Villa put Finnish International Alexander Ring clean through with just Joe Bendik in the Orlando goal to beat. The Orlando keeper dived low to his right and pulled off a fine save to deny the visitors and keep the score 1-0 through to half-time.

The Pigeons then piled on the pressure in the second half and Jack Harrison should have had his team level in the 53rd minute, but a superb reaction save from Bendik denied the New York City midfielder’s well-hit shot from close range. New York substitute Sean Okoli was next to test the Orlando keeper in the 86th minute as he found space to hit a shot from the edge of the box that Bendik managed to turn away.

Orlando City Soccer 1 New York City FC 0, Orlando City Soccer Stadium, Orlando, 5th March 2017 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

Carlos Rivas (pictured above) had a chance to wrap up the game right in the closing seconds as he played a neat one two with Servando Carrasco to break away, but his shot ended up sailing wide of the left hand post.

Orlando City Soccer 1 New York City FC 0, Orlando City Soccer Stadium, Orlando, 5th March 2017 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

“Obviously I’m extremely pleased. The level of work and commitment and togetherness from our team was off the charts,” Lions Head Coach Jason Kreis (pictured above) said. “Tonight the guys continued to fight, continued to stay together. There were mistakes happening but people had positive reactions to those mistakes and we made plays. Big, big night for everybody defensively, and that’s something to build on.”

Orlando City Soccer 1 New York City FC 0, Orlando City Soccer Stadium, Orlando, 5th March 2017 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

New York coach Patrick Vieira was pragmatic after the game in which his side had 68.4% of the possession as he remarked “It was a really difficult game for us. It was the opening of a new stadium. It was a good stadium and the players were really excited to play in the new stadium so they didn’t really want to miss the location of the game so I think they started doing really well. We considered a goal at one time and then after we deserve to get something from that game and we created a few chances. Losing the game like we did tonight was really frustrating but at the same time I was really pleased with the attitude we showed and how we played the game and we will win more games playing this way than anything else. A lot of frustration tonight.”

Overall, it was a satisfactory evening for the Lions who fielded a revamped back line of newcomers Donny Toia, Jonathan Spector and Will Johnson alongside Uruguayan center back José Aja. Orlando goalkeeper Joe Bendik will have enjoyed keeping a clean sheet but Orlando Head Coach Jason Kreis will no doubt be concerned that the visitors enjoyed the majority of the possession. The bottom line though is that you can have all the possession in the world but with no end product you won’t win football matches.

Orlando City Soccer 1 New York City FC 0, Orlando City Soccer Stadium, Orlando, 5th March 2017 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

It was a good sign that the home side were able to overcome the loss of a key player and taste victory in their first game in their new stadium. It was also apt that the first goal in it should fall to the leading goalscorer at the club, Cyle Larin. Larin’s stature grows season by season and the switch to a 4-4-2 formation this season with Carlos Rivas playing alongside him appears to be a good one. Rivas looks like a new player, full of energy and one that now works tirelessly while Larin benefits from an extra pair of boots to lead the forward line. All Rivas needs to do now is work on his finishing and he could become the exciting player that Orlando City saw when they signed him as a designated player.

Orlando City Soccer 1 New York City FC 0, Orlando City Soccer Stadium, Orlando, 5th March 2017 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

It would be remiss of us if we didn’t mention the part the new stadium and the noise of the fans played in driving on the players. In previous seasons the players have conceded crucial late goals that probably cost them a play off spot. Dropping late points has always been a problem for the men in purple and the crowd inspired them tonight to play just that bit harder. It was something that Kries noticed as he said of the support; “Spectacular. Absolutely spectacular. Not that it surprises me. Every time that I’ve been in a game in Orlando I’m absolutely wowed by the fans. I think they were a huge, huge part of the three points. If you ask me what was the one thing I was looking forward to in the stadium, I was looking most forward to The Wall and what that was going to look like and what that was going to feel like and what that was going to sound like. It was fantastic. Hopefully it’s every single home game that kind of energy and that kind of atmosphere because I truly do believe that fans can help teams to win points.”

Lineups/Substitutions:

Orlando City SC – GK Joe Bendik, D Donny Toia, Jonathan Spector, José Aja, Will Johnson, M Antonio Nocerino, Servando Carrasco, Kaká (c) (Giles Barnes 11’), Matías Pérez García (Hadji Barry 88’), F Carlos Rivas, Cyle Larin (Cristian Higuita 73’)

Substitutes Not Used: GK Josh Saunders, D Seb Hines, M Richie Laryea, PC

New York City FC – GK Sean Johnson, D Maxime Chanot, Alex Callens, RJ Allen (Tommy McNamara 77’), Ronald Mattarita, M Alex Ring (Sean Okoli 84’), Maxi Morález, Andrea Pirlo, F Jack Harrison, Rodney Wallace (Khiry Shelton 64’), David Villa Ⓒ

Substitutes Not Used: GK Eirik Johansen, D Ethan White, Frederic Brillant, M Yangel Herrera

Attendance: 25,527

More photos at www.FloridaLeisurePhotography.com

 

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