Orlando City takes narrow win over Sporting Kansas City

Orlando City moved into play off contention with a 1-0 win over Sporting Kansas City at Exploria Stadium on Wednesday night.

Lion’s Head Coach James O’Connor has transformed the defensive aspect of the team since taking over in Orlando just over a year ago and it was that defensive unit that earned City the victory over as the visitors pushed and probed for an equalizing goal. For the Orlando City supporters it was a nervous time as their side conceded 55.5% of the possession, although it felt like significantly more, as well as eleven corners and fourteen shots.

Robin Jansson and Lamine Sané were immense in the center of defence as they repelled attack after attack from Sporting and it must be said that the whole team defended as one to ensure a vital three points came their way in the play off chase.

The crucial goal of the game came in the 21st minute as Chris Mueller fed Carlos Ascues charging into the box on the right side of the field. The Peruvian midfielder then fed a nifty ball across the box and Tesho Akindele fired home with his right foot to give Kansas keeper Tim Melia no chance of saving the shot.

It was a good start for Orlando and it should have been better had Dom Dwyer, playing against his former club, taken an earlier chance in the 2nd minute. Mueller again fed a good ball into the edge of the six yard box and Dwyer cleverly made space for himself but his header from an unmarked position went woefully wide of the left hand post.

The Lions had to reshuffle their pack in the 8th minute as Kyle Smith took a blow from Melia as he challenged for the ball and had to be substituted off for Shane O’Neill. It didn’t deter the Lions though as Sporting failed to find their shooting boots and they hung on for the victory.

“It wasn’t pretty.” said O’Connor (pictured above) after the game. “I think for us we had some passages that you think, first half, not bad, couple of passages, nice goal, some good chances first half. Second half just became a complete game of transition. For us it became pure heart. I think you could see, both teams to be honest, the humidity played a huge factor in the game tonight. I think you could see both teams were really impacted by the humidity and that’s when you need the character and the heart to be able to push through. That’s the one massive credit I can give the players is the heart and the commitment that they showed to dig in and push through because it was very tough conditions tonight.”

The Lions will embark on their first visit to Allianz Field, set to face Minnesota United FC on Saturday, August 17 with kickoff set for 8 p.m. ET.

Lineups/Substitutions:

Orlando City SC – GK Brian Rowe; D Kamal Miller, Robin Jansson, Lamine Sané, Kyle Smith (Shane O’Neill 12’); M Carlos Ascues, Nani ©, Uri Rosell; F Chris Mueller (Benji Michel 46’), Dom Dwyer (Sacha Kljestan 74’), Tesho Akindele

Substitutes Not Used: GK Adam Grinwis; D Alex de John; M Dillon Powers; F Santiago Patiño

Sporting Kansas City – GK Tim Melia; D Seth Sinovic (Luis Martins 71’), Matt Besler ©, Graham Smith, Graham Zusi; M Felipe Gutiérrez, Ilie Sánchez, Roger Espinoza; F Gianluca Busio (Benny Feilhaber 59’), Jimmy Medrana (Erik Hurtado 46’), Johnny Russell

Substitutes Not Used: GK Erik Dick; D Andreu Fontas, Nicolas Hasler; M Wan Kuzain

Attendance: 22,347

More photos at www.FloridaLeisurePhotography.com

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