Typically, this is not the Friday routine around here for me. and it may not be for you either. Normally, Fridays during March see me bringing you the weekly Intelligence Report, where I speak to someone from the SBNation site of the team Orlando City SC will be playing over the weekend in order to get some insight into the opponents. However, yesterday’s news that Major League Soccer would be suspending all games for at least 30 days, effective immediately, meant that I had to find something different to write about. Fortunately for me, and by extension, you readers, a very important game happened on this same date five years ago, so now seems like as good a time as any to revisit it.
The 2015 season was Orlando City’s inaugural year in Major League Soccer. March 13, 2015 was the team’s second ever game, following a 1-1 home draw with NYCFC, courtesy of a last-second deflected Kaká free kick. The team hit the road for its second game and headed to Texas to take on the Houston Dynamo.
Donovan Ricketts started in goal for the Lions, with a back line of Brek Shea, Seb Hines, Sean St. Ledger, and Rafael Ramos. The midfield was made up of Amobi Okugo and Darwin Ceren, behind the trio of Lewis Neal, Kaká, and Kevin Molino, with Carlos Rivas getting the start up top. The Dynamo, meanwhile, had Tyler Deric in goal with Damarcus Beasley, Jermaine Taylor, David Horst, and Kofi Sarkodie at the back. Brad Davis, Ricardo Clark, Luis Garrido, and Leonel Miranda were the midfield four; and Giles Barnes and Boniek Garcia got the nod up top.
It was a night when the Lions’ defensive work was the best part of what the team did. While the Dynamo took seven shots, they didn’t manage to put any on target, with Ricketts having the quietest of quiet nights. That was in large part due to the work of Ramos, who did an excellent job containing both Davis and Beasley down Lions’ right flank. He did very well getting forward offensively too, and made some good runs into the box, where his final ball wouldn’t connect with anyone. Hines and Shea also had pretty good games, and even though St. Ledger was the weakest link of the four on the night, he was by no means a fish out of water.
Unfortunately, the OCSC offense wasn’t really able to match the defensive output. The men in purple took eight shots on the night but put only three on target. While Orlando was probably the more threatening team, it frequently lacked the final incisive ball necessary to create true goal-scoring opportunities. Kaká had several good chances to score though, with Deric doing excellent work in goal to deny a free kick that was bound for the corner.
His other chance saw the captain 1v1 with Deric from a tight angle, and he was ultimately unable to do more than shoot right at the big goalie. Neal had a ball come out to him at the edge of the box unmarked in the second half but fizzed a strong shot several yards wide of the post.
Ultimately, it would take a Dynamo mistake for the Lions to get their breakthrough. Horst played a very risky back-pass to Deric, who took a heavy touch and was immediately pressured by second-half substitute Pedro Ribeiro. Deric tried to clear but hit the ball into Ribeiro, popping it up in the air, on a trajectory back towards the Houston goal. Both players chased the ball, and in trying to clear it Deric looked to punch it into his own goal, giving the good guys the lead in the 74th minute.
Orlando held on for the remainder of the game and picked up the club’s first ever MLS win in what proved to be extremely Orlando City-esque fashion. Nothing quite says a Lions win like 52% possession, eight shots, and an own goal as the winner. But, everyone has to start somewhere and that’s exactly how OCSC started off getting wins in the highest tier of American soccer.
While this was before The Mane Land handed out Man of the Match awards, in our player grades piece Ramos and Ribeiro both received ratings of 8, the highest of anyone on the team. Ramos went on to be named as a starter in the Week 2 edition of the MLS Team of the Week, making him the first Lion to receive the honor. You can also find TML’s match recap here, and our Five Takeaways from the game here.
Do you have any specific memories of the Lions’ first ever MLS victory? If so, I’d love to hear about them, so please be sure to share them down in the comments. In addition, let me know if you enjoyed this piece, if you did then I’ll probably try to make this a regular thing until the league resumes play. Cheers!