As we count down to the new year of 2020 — which will be Orlando City’s sixth in MLS, OCB’s second in USL League One, and the Orlando Pride’s fifth in the NWSL — and say goodbye to 2019, it’s time to look back at the club’s 10 best moments of the year.
There were a lot of moments this season that gave supporters hope for the Lions, but the May 19 match at home against FC Cincinnati — where together Nani, Dom Dwyer, and Tesho Akindele came back from behind to lead the team to a 5-1 win 5-1 — commands our No. 5 slot. Not only was the high-scoring match fun to watch, but it broke a three-game losing streak and a four-match winless skid, and was tied for the second highest scoring match in MLS for Orlando City, behind only the 6-1 home win over New England in 2017.
FC Cincinnati’s Darren Mattocks opened the scoring, as he seemingly hypnotized the defense in the 24th minute. It seemed to be just what the Lions needed to bring them to life as they started shooting and couldn’t be stopped.
Akindele tied things up in the 37th minute when Will Johnson took a pass from Joao Moutinho and played in Akindele with a nice through ball.
The teams ended the half 1-1, but OCSC came back in the second with a vengeance. After a reviewed foul on Lamine Sané, Orlando was awarded a penalty. Nani took the shot and Spencer Richey saved it, but the rebound fell right to the feet of the Portuguese star who calmly put it in the back of the net, putting the Lions up 2-1.
Only nine minutes later, Nani extended the lead when Ruan worked with Akindele and made a mad dash down the right, cutting in toward the goal before crossing, and Nani was there to score the 200th goal in club history.
The Lions only continued to pad the lead in the 64th minute when Chris Mueller’s corner kick fell in the box and bounced off Sané. Akindele got it on the first touch out of the air for his first brace as a Lion.
The final goal came after Dwyer subbed on for Nani. Ruan won a corner in the 81st minute and Dwyer broke his scoreless streak with a well-placed header off Josué Colmán’s corner kick cross, and the whole team celebrated him following the goal.
OCSC was able to walk off the pitch with a major win at home that sent FC Cincinnati out with their tails between their legs. The team effort and mentality seemed to have shifted in favor of the Lions during the match, earning praise from then-coach James O’Connor.
“The quality of the players started to come through. Again, I think the players deserve enormous credit for the mentality and the way they went on performed second half. I thought they were excellent.”
Even just reliving this at the time of writing, I could feel the excitement of this match like it was happening for the first time.
Come back through New Year’s Eve as we count down the remainder of Orlando City’s top 10 moments of 2019.
Previous Top 10 Moments of 2019
10. OCSC hosts the USMNT in a Concacaf Nations League game.
9. OCB returns in USL League One.
8. The Orlando Pride upset the Red Stars in Chicago.
7. Orlando City B picks up its first USL League One win.
6. Orlando City hires Oscar Pareja as head coach.