Pedro Ribeiro came on in the 54th minute for starting center forward Carlos Rivas to make his first appearance of the season. Ribeiro applied high pressure to Tyler Deric, who took a heavy touch on David Horst's ill-advised back pass and caused the young keeper to make a mistake, leading to Orlando City's 1-0 victory.
Deric had the ball at his feet when Ribeiro pounced on him and dispossessed him in the goal box. The two tussled for the ball and both players went airborne for the ball. The 6-4 forward stayed strong, trying to put his head on the ball while Deric went to swat it away.
"It happens a lot," Ribeiro said about the tussle in front of the goal. "I'm a big guy and sometimes when I beat a guy in front of the goal he always tries to pull me down. I'm not a guy who's going to fall down for certain little things, and I'm just going to try to keep playing, especially on a play like that, when I can score a goal and get three points.
"I'm happy for the goal and happy for the first win for Orlando City in the MLS."
MLS is calling it an own goal by Deric at this point. Regardless, it was Ribeiro's hard work and power that was responsible for the tally. You be the judge.
Overall, match play was closer to what Adrian Heath wants from the squad, who thought it was a crisp effort for Orlando City's first road match of the season.
"I'm delighted that we started to sort of play our football," Heath said. "I thought last week that we were a little bit intimidated and I thought today that we started to play football the way we can.
"It's not the greatest goal (or) the prettiest goal he's (Pedro Ribeiro) scored, but I can honestly say it was one of the most important for us...I didn't think the goal was going to come but eventually we got it."
The back line held its resolve through out the entire 90 minutes and held Houston to seven shots -- zero on goal -- despite the absence of Aurelien Collin, who was suspended for his red card against New York City FC on Sunday. Sean St. Ledger took the start alongside Seb Hines for his first full 90 minutes of the season.
Darwin Ceren also made his 2015 MLS starting debut Friday night, taking Cristian Higuita's spot alongside Amobi Okugo in defensive midfield. Higuita was out with an injury Heath described as a slight groin strain but his manager said his work ethic in training played the devil's advocate in putting Ceren's name in the starting lineup.
"I just told him (Ceren) he’s forced his way into the lineup and the squad the last two weeks by the way he’s trained the last two weeks," Heath said. "He’s been outstanding. And it’s not easy when all the euphoria’s going around on opening day and you’re not in the 18. He’s knuckled down and worked really, really hard in training. He's had a little bit of a reward tonight."
Orlando City had two shots on goal in the first half, compared to none by Houston. One came on a dangerous run by Carlos Rivas that almost split the Houston defenders, but ended in a side-footed shot Deric easily picked up.
A foul outside the Deric's box during the 43rd minute led to another chance for Kaká to repeat his free-kick heroics from Sunday but Deric denied it with a spectacular save, diving to his right to shut down the Orlando City star.
That was the only promising look he had on the goal for the night. Houston's defense and center midfielders played a compact game in the center of the field and strong-armed at times, with Jermaine Taylor and Ricardo Clark putting Kaká on the ground without drawing fouls.
Rafael Ramos provided Orlando with several threatening opportunities in the first half with runs down the right but he couldn't connect with anyone in the box.
Orlando City opened the second half with its fourth yellow card of the season, when Amobi Okugo pulled back Honduran international Oscar Boniek Garcia, who made a nice move to get by him.
Kaká had a great chance in the 65th minute when he broke free down the left side with possession of the ball. David Horst made a sliding attempt at knocking the ball free of the Brazilian's feet but misjudged the tackle. The Brazilian star tried a shot at the goal but was once again denied by the Dynamo keeper.
Houston had its chances on several corners and build-ups but couldn't convert. Will Bruin had one last good look at the goal in the second half but sailed the ball wide. Houston finished with zero shots on goal.
Eric Avila made his Orlando City debut in the 81st minute, subbing on for Kaká.