Two years ago today, there was a miracle in Orlando. Not only did the Lions win, but they won back-to-back games. That is a rare feat for Orlando City and those wins turned into a six-game win streak, the longest such streak in the team’s MLS history.
But, that’s not what made April 8, 2018, so special. On that beautiful night, the Cardiac Cats returned for a match for the record books in a huge win over the Portland Timbers.
In the 19th minute, Sebastian Blanco was called for embellishment. Before he was given his second yellow card, the play went to video review. It was overturned and Mohamed El-Munir was called for a foul in the box. Diego Valeri stepped up for the spot kick. With the wall at his back to encourage him, Joe Bendik dove the right way. Unfortunately, Valeri’s kick was perfect and the Timbers went up 1-0.
In the 59th minute, Lamine Sané was called for a foul on Blanco this time. Valeri took the free kick, almost at the corner kick spot. He put it at the top of the six-yard box, and Bill Tuiloma beat Orlando’s defenders to double Portland’s lead.
Things were looking bleak for the home side at this point. Although Orlando had a good amount of possession, it struggled to do anything in the final third. This prompted then-head coach Jason Kreis to bring on Chris Mueller and Stéfano Pinho. They were the spark the Lions were missing and Mueller got his first professional goal just minutes after his entrance.
With 10 minutes to play, Yoshimar Yotún sent in an out-swinging corner to the front of the six-yard box. Mueller headed it across the frame of the goal and into the back of the net to cut the Lions’ deficit in half.
A minute later, Sacha Kljestan started the attack for Orlando. He dribbled across the middle of the field and found Mueller to his right. The rookie sent in a perfect ball to Dwyer. Alvas Powell threw a shoulder at Dwyer, forcing the striker to the ground, and referee Baldomero Toledo called for a penalty kick. Again in front of the supporters, Kljestan leveled the game with a cool and collected spot kick for his first goal with Orlando.
The Cardiac Cats were not finished there, though. They were intent on coming away from the match with all three points. They led in possession (58%), shots (24-13), passes (455-352), and corners (12-1) over Portland in the match..
With time running out, it was Dwyer who stepped up to the plate. From inside his own half, RJ Allen sent a great through ball to Dwyer. He almost ruined the chance by twisting, turning,and even falling to the ground. Still, the striker stayed with it and sent the ball behind goalkeeper Jake Gleeson to give the Lions the 3-2 win. He was named as our Man of the Match for his efforts
This game will forever be remembered as one of the best comebacks in Orlando City history and here are the full highlights from the match for you to check out.