Orlando City is back to winning at home.
A Kaká brace propelled the Lions back into the race for the playoffs, beating second-place New York City FC for the second time this season. It was a back-and-forth affair, which saw Orlando squander some chances to pull away, but the team was able to hold on for the win.
Now, let's jump into the takeaways from an exciting win.
Kaká's Still Got It
The captain grabbed his first brace in MLS play in a crucial game for the Lions. While he didn't have a spectacular performance, his first goal gave momentum to Orlando in the first half and his second helped push the team forward the rest of the way. His ability to combine with Matias Perez Garcia and Kevin Molino gives Orlando multiple creative players in the attack and helps take some of the pressure off of the captain. With that, and playing more of a winger position, Kaká is starting to play like he used to, in small doses. Coming off for the last 15 minutes was an interesting move by Jason Kreis, but nonetheless a solid performance for the skipper.
An Interesting Defensive Tactical Move Pays Off
It was a surprise to most fans to see Tommy Redding, normally a central defender, starting as a fullback in yesterday's match. Redding, who admitted after the game that he hadn't played that position in a long time, was placed in an unfamiliar role in order to spell Kevin Alston, who had been playing the full 90 minutes the last few months. This brought a bit more of a defensive mindset to the lineup, having to deal with players like David Villa, Steven Mendoza, and Tommy McNamara. Alston eventually came on in the 56th minute and did a good job shutting down the left wingers for NYCFC. Now that Redding has shown he can be a fill-in as a full back, Head Coach Jason Kreis remarked that he may get a future look as a second option at fullback.
MPG A Real Threat For Orlando
Since coming to Orlando, Matias Perez Garcia has been a huge offensive weapon for Jason Kreis and the Lions offense. After trading fan favorite Darwin Céren to San Jose, there were questions about why Orlando traded him for a 31-year-old midfielder that only had three goals in three years. In the four games he has played in, Perez Garcia has combined with Kaká in the attack incredibly well, has been creative on the ball, quick off the dribble, and has caused nightmares for the opposing back lines when on the pitch. While it's still early, MPG could be a fantastic asset for the Lions for this year and in the future.
Revenge for Jason Kreis
As much as the former New York City FC manager denied it, beating the team that fired him after only one year at the helm is a bit of redemption. Throughout the week, Kreis downplayed the match-up and considered it "just another game," but the elation that Kreis had on the pitch after the final whistle blew was pretty evident that the win meant more to him than he let on. Some of the players seemed to hint at wanting to help their new coach get a victory against his former club, but Kreis himself never revealed his full thoughts on the matter. Either way, it's a big win for the Lions, and a big win for Jason Kreis and his staff.
Orlando Owns NYC
Coming into last night's match, New York City was undefeated in its last four games while Orlando had lost two straight at home and was 0-2-2 in its last four. The Lions snapped those streaks and also broke up the Blues' winning streak in a must-win match-up at home. Orlando now has three wins against the team from the Bronx, while they have only lost once and drawn twice over the two years the teams have been in the league. If Orlando doesn't end up making the playoffs this year, at least the Lions can take solace that they have a better record than their expansion counterparts.
Those are my five takeaways from last night’s match. Anything I missed? Let me know in the comments below.