The Lions (10-13-8, 38 points) seemingly unleashed a season’s worth of frustration on the Revs en route to a 6-1 bombing of the visitors, setting a team record for goals in an MLS game. Five different players scored a goal — including Kaká, who scored two — in a thorough domination of the Revs (11-15-5, 38 points), who were down to 10 men just minutes into the match.
“I think we’ve proven that we’re a capable team. I think we’ve proven that when the guys are fully committed and work really hard together, we can be a very good team,” said Head Coach Jason Kreis after the game. “That’s the way it’s been all year, from my point of view. And when we’ve been putting forth our best, when players give everything we have, that’s when we get the good results. When we don’t, we don’t.”
Kreis rotated the squad for the midweek contest, starting a center back pairing of Seb Hines and Leo Pereira between regular fullbacks Donny Toia and Scott Sutter. The diamond midfield was anchored by Servando Carrasco, with Yoshimar Yotun left, Antonio Nocerino right, and Giles Barnes up top. Kaká and Dom Dwyer were the strike partnership. Joe Bendik took his usual residence in front of goal.
The game had barely started when it took a strange twist, with Xavier Kouassi taking down Seb Hines in the midfield. Video review turned the foul into a straight red card and just 11 minutes in the Lions were up a man.
Orlando looked to get on the front foot and nearly got in a few times before Claude Dielna took Kaká down hard near the right sideline in the 21st minute, giving the Lions a set piece. Yotun delivered a cross in that Nocerino got a toe on and Cody Cropper couldn’t handle. The ball trickled over the goal line to give the Italian his first MLS goal and Orlando City a 1-0 lead at the 22-minute mark.
“I’m happy first for the game and after for the score,” Nocerino said about his first MLS goal. The Italian spoke emotionally about how much the team and city means to him and stated clearly after several questions about the goal that the win was more important to him.
New England served notice that set pieces would be dangerous as Benjamin Angoua got a free header in the 25th minute but he sent it wide and the flag was up anyway.
Kaká went down in the box in the 28th minute and was booked for simulation although it did appear that Dielna got a piece of City’s captain as he turned to go in on goal. The Brazilian made a great hesitation move to freeze Antonio Delamea and ended up earning a corner kick. Yotun delivered a cross that Hines nodded home to make it 2-0 at the 32- minute mark.
“I was so thrilled it went in the back of the net. That’s what I like to do. I like to score with my head,” Hines said. “Obviously we needed that win and I was just glad my goal meant something today.”
The Revs nearly pulled one right back on a set piece from just outside the box. Pereira stepped in front of Kamara to steal a pass but he was booked for an infraction and instead New England nearly scored. Lee Nguyen fired a free kick that Bendik got a fingertip on and pushed off the outside of the post. The ensuing corner was an adventure but was eventually cleared.
The game then became very choppy, with referee Silviu Petrescu doling out cards like they were candy, booking Kaká, Scott Caldwell, and Pereira in a five-minute period. It was starting to look like the game would finish with very few players.
“I think any time you have an early ejection to your opponent, the first thing that’s in your mind is will the referee be looking to even the score a little bit. Will he be influenced to try to level it a little bit, especially if it’s a decision he wasn’t quite sure about,” Kreis said. He added that his intention was to take Pereira out at halftime but then Hines was booked in the 45th minute, forcing him to rethink the decision. In the end, Pereira came out shortly after halftime and Hines was able to play through his yellow card without further damage.
Nocerino nearly got his second in the 39th minute off a corner kick scramble but he sent his shot just wide of the far post.
In the 43rd minute Dwyer fed Kaká a pass and the captain stepped into a shot and blasted it into the back of the net in the 43rd minute to make it 3-0.
Before we get this second half started enjoy some magic from our . pic.twitter.com/3vzRXVk0Qo— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) September 28, 2017
Nguyen got the Revs on the board in first-half stoppage time with nearly an identical free kick to the one that Bendik saved. This time, Bendik couldn’t quite get over in time to save it and the teams went to the locker room with Orlando holding a 3-1 lead that seemed more precarious than it should have.
New England started the second half strong, despite being down a man. Nguyen was allowed a free run to the top of the box before firing just over the bar in the 48th minute. The Revs put a couple of dangerous balls into the area after that but the Lions were able to deal with them.
“Anytime you’re playing against a team that’s down a man they can [only] hold on for so long, and typically when you start to score a couple of goals on them is when they want to give up,” Kreis said. “I think a big credit to New England because I thought at the beginning of the second half they came out really bright, caused us some real trouble and maybe should have scored a goal that could have made our night very, very difficult.”
Barnes got his head to a loose ball off Cropper’s save on Dwyer in the 52nd but missed the wide-open net, pushing it wide. Just after that, a moment of inattentiveness on a soft pass resulted in a turnover and the Revs broke two-on-two but Hines was able to make a sparkling tackle in the box on Teal Bunbury to break up the chance.
From that point on, Orlando possessed the ball but couldn’t do much more than earn some corners and free kicks without really threatening goal. That all changed in the 77th minute. Dwyer got in behind and had a shot stopped by Cropper and then attempted a flying scissor kick that didn’t quite come off but Kaká was right there to smash home the loose ball, effectively killing the game at 4-1. Dwyer got his second assist of the game.
That didn’t mean the Lions were done, however.
In the 84th minute, Dwyer took a pass from second-half sub Cyle Larin, dribbled down the left side of the box and blasted one past Cropper to score his first home goal since his trade from Sporting Kansas City.
The OCS crowd chanted “we want six!” and got their wish in the 90th minute. Yoshimar Yotun took a pass from Richie Laryea and sent a rocket past Cropper to make it 6-1. Laryea earned his first MLS assist.
Moments later, Petrescu blew the full time whistle and the Lions had their most lopsided MLS win ever, snapping an 0-3-3 run of form at home and sending the Revolution to an 0-13-3 road mark.
Orlando held 59% of the possession and out-shot New England, 21-10 (11-5 on target), which can be attributed in no small part to being up a man for 80 minutes.
“We were just ruthless tonight. Everything we hit went into the back of the net,” Hines said after the game. “It just shows when we’re on we can be a threat to any team. Today we needed to bounce back from our performance against Portland and I thought we did that.
“We owed them one. They beat us comfortably at their place so we had to make sure that we got one back on them today.”
Orlando City will be back in action Sunday at 4 p.m. against FC Dallas.