Orlando City attempted to play a more direct style against NYCFC on Sunday inside the unfriendly confines of Yankee Stadium. In the first 70 minutes of play it looked like the Lions were going to the Copa América break with a loss. Today we look at the two late goals the Lions managed, and how that direct style impacted them.
Villa's Miss and Baptista's Goal Flipped the Script
For the first 70 minutes, Orlando City's players looked like all they wanted was to get to the Copa América and get some much-needed rest. A terrible penalty miss by David Villa that made the Spaniard look like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football helped swing things in the Lions' favor.
A successful spot kick would've put the game out of reach, but the miss started the Orlando City comeback. An innocent ball played by Kevin Molino directly to Júlio Baptista started to turn the game on its head in the 71st minute.
The Baptista goal is based on the deflection that happens on the shot, but the goal is created off an Orlando throw-in. The play starts with Shea throwing the ball in to Harrison Heath, who gets this play going by switching the field. The backs of NYCFC reset and come across the field. Kevin Alston is pushing forward and gets the ball to Molino, who plays an excellent ball to Baptista. Cyle Larin is occupying some space in the middle of the park, which forces a defender to cheat forward to deny him the ball. Baptista takes his shot, gets a little bit lucky on the deflection and it goes in. NYCFC’s Josh Saunders needs to do better on this, but Orlando is on its way to a comeback and NYCFC starts to come unglued.
Much like NYCFC's first goal scored off a corner kick, Molino benefits from a ball played back across the goal after a far-post ball. Carlos Rivas gets the ball and he is trapped by two NYCFC defenders on the left flank. Rivas does the worst move in the history of soccer and fakes going away from goal, which gets the NYCFC defender to go the wrong way, and this is combined with an intelligent run by Brek Shea to create space so that Rivas can serve a ball in.
The ball is served to the back post, where no NYCFC defender has bodied Larin, who is on the back side of the goal area and heads the ball across the penalty box. This decision is the key to this goal, with both Molino and Baptista open in the middle of the box. Orlando City takes advantage of Andrea Pirlo ball watching and the difficulty of defending a ball played back across the box to break hearts in the Bronx.
Orlando City continues to find ways to turn losses into draws. Many people believe that the continuous draws will come back to haunt Orlando City. This could be true, as there will come a point where Orlando City will need to grab wins to solidify its playoff spot, but salving a point is certainly better than a loss and these points do add up as well.
Orlando City’s back four problems aside, this team’s ability to come back from late-game deficits will be important if the Lions want to make a run to the MLS Cup playoffs or in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup tournament.