CHAMPIONSGATE, FL -- Less than a month away from its first match of the 2016 MLS season, Orlando City pulled out a late result over defending Supporters Shield winners New York Red Bulls, 3-2.
Orlando's starting 11 consisted largely of projected starters, with the exception of the missing Carlos Rivas, who is out with injury, and Brek Shea, who was taking a day off for rest. Even right wing Kevin Molino played, getting some minutes late.
The Lions were on the back foot early, with the Red Bulls coming out with constant attacking pressure. The first team for Orlando looked a step off and a bit slow compared to the New York starters. The Lions struggled to get crisp ball movement across the pitch, leading to multiple turnovers in their half of the field.
Orlando was still able to get on the board first off a corner kick. Luke Boden was able to get a ball to the far post, where team captain Kaká was ready and waiting for it. A simple header into the net put the Lions up 1-0.
The lead didn't last long, as the Red Bulls equalized just two minutes later, after Bradley Wright-Phillips got behind the defense and scored a near-post header to even up the game at one apiece.
Ten minutes later the Red Bulls took the lead. A Lloyd Sam cross from just outside the 18-yard box found BWP again, who headed the ball on goal. After a great initial save from Joe Bendik, Kamar Lawrence was in good position to finish on the rebound and put New York ahead. After another ten minutes of New York controlling possession, the first half ended with Orlando City down, 2-1.
The second half saw more of the same from both teams through the first 15 minutes. New York controlled the game and the Orlando starters struggled to get anything going. It wasn't until the 64th minute that Orlando was able to level the match, in very unconventional fashion. Off a free kick for Orlando, Adrian Winter was able to chip a ball towards goal. Red Bulls goalkeeper Ryan Meara tried to tip the ball over the bar, but missed. Winter, still in the area, was able to capitalize and easily tap the ball into the net, tying up the game at 2-2.
In the 70th minute, a complete platoon swap came for the Lions, and with that swap came a completely different look to Orlando's lineup. The team was more active and played New York closer in terms of effort. One of the very first plays with the new lineup in saw Servando Carrasco dispossess a Red Bulls midfielder and create a counter attack for Pedro Ribeiro, who tried to lay it back for Molino, but the ball was intercepted.
Over the next 15 minutes, the game was more closely contested and was very much a back-and-forth affair. Finally, in the 85th minute, Orlando had a breakthrough. Tony Rocha started a fantastic counter attack off of a Red Bulls turnover. The OCB midfielder got the ball into the middle of the pitch to rookie Richie Laryea, who hit a one-touch pass to a wide open Molino on the right wing. Pedro Ribeiro was in the middle of the box waiting and Molino was able to slot it over to him for the easy finish. With that, the Lions hung on for the 3-2 victory.
When asked about the game, Head Coach Adrian Heath commented, "Poor, very poor. As pleased as I was at Jacksonville, I thought today was very poor. I thought the body language was poor from the very beginning. I thought the second group were a lot better. Actually, it looked like it meant more to the second group and it probably did."
Orlando City will play again on Sunday at ChampionsGate against Toronto FC, who just lost to OCB 1-0 this afternoon.
A bit of the postgame comments from Orlando City Head Coach Adrian Heath. pic.twitter.com/iEH51RYsF0— The Mane Land (@TheManeLand) February 17, 2016