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In its third match in nine days, Orlando City SC earned three massive points in the MLS Eastern Conference with a 2-1 win in a fighting spirited performance against second-place New York City FC.
Kaká earned his first multi-goal game in Major League Soccer (MLS) with a man of the match performance as the Lions took their seventh point of the season from 2015 expansion rival NYCFC.
“For me the most important thing tonight was the performance. I’m seeing continued improvement in the performance, continued improvement in how we’re defending and it’s pleasing,” Head Coach Jason Kreis (pictured above) said. “Credit to the guys, they had a positive reaction to that adversity [from the beginning of the second half] and we end up winning. I’m really pleased for the players.”
Kreis fielded an odd looking defensive set up with Tommy Redding being asked to fill the right hand side with David Mateos and José Aja being the central pairing while Luke Boden completed the back line on the left. Antonio Nocerino and Servando Carrasco manned the holding midfield roles behind a potent attack of Kevin Molino, Matías Pérez García and MLS All-Stars Kaká and Cyle Larin. Kevin Alston, Brek Shea and Tony Rocha, who made his fourth MLS appearance, all came on in the second half.
Kaká opened the scoring in the 32nd minute with some individual skill. After working the ball up the right wing with Pérez García, the Brazilian superstar drifted past New York defender Jefferson Mena and fired a close range shot at NYCFC goalkeeper Josh Saunders on the right hand post. Kaká’s shot went through Saunders’ legs, but stopped just short of the line before the Brazilian followed up and tapped home for his fifth goal of the season.
New York equalised early in the second half after a period of sustained pressure. Steven Mendoza fired home a close-range rebound in the 55th minute after Joe Bendik could only parry away a shot from Frank Lampard.
The Lions, urged on by a drenched 27,482 supporters from an earlier storm around kick off time, pressed on for a must win goal. Pérez García, having a fine match, played a slick back heel pass to Kaká on the edge of the box. The captain took a touch to create space for a shot but was brought down by Maxime Chanot just inside the box. Kaká clinically finished to the right hand side from the spot past Josh Saunders in the NY goal, who dove the other way, to put Orlando City back in front, 2-1, in the 63rd minute.
New York then took control of the game as they laid siege on the Orlando goal but the Lions always looked dangerous on the break. Kevin Molino almost added a third goal in the 70th minute as he rounded Saunders only to see Ronald Matarrita miraculously clear off the line before crashing into the post.
Joe Bendik, in the Orlando goal, made three good saves, including a fingertip effort to stop a Frank Lampard shot in the 81st minute as the home fans were able to celebrate a memorable home win against their fellow 2016 expansion rivals. Orlando now moves just a point behind D.C. United for the sixth and final play off position in the Eastern Conference.
During half time Orlando City SC recognized Orlando Pride’s forward Christina Burkenroad for her work with the #RethinkHomelessnessYouth, part of the Orlando City Foundation and founding partner Orlando Health’s efforts to end youth homelessness in Orlando.
The Lions now go on a two-game road trip beginning Wednesday, Sept. 7, at Montreal with a 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff before traveling to Los Angeles on Sept. 11 to take on the LA Galaxy. Orlando City returns to Camping World Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 17, when it hosts Columbus Crew SC at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Orlando City SC – GK Joe Bendik, D Luke Boden, David Mateos, José Aja, Tommy Redding (Kevin Alston 56’), M Antonio Nocerino, Servando Carrasco, Kevin Molino, Matías Pérez García (Tony Rocha 68’), F Kaká (Brek Shea 74’), Cyle Larin
Substitutes Not Used: GK Earl Edwards Jr., D, Mikey Ambrose, F Carlos Rivas, Júlio Baptista
New York City FC – GK Josh Saunders, D Ronald Matarrita, Jefferson Mena, Jason Hernandez (Khiry Shelton 76’), Maxime Chanot, M Andrea Pirlo (Tony Taylor 82’), Andoni Iraola, Frank Lampard, F Steven Mendoza, Tommy McNamara (Jack Harrison 72’), David Villa
Substitutes Not Used: GK Eirik Johansen, D RJ Allen, M Mikey Lopez, Federico Bravo
More photos at www.FloridaLeisurePhotography.com