With the match all squared at 1-1, Orlando City won Group A with seven points while the Philadelphia Union finished runners up with the same seven points, thanks to goal difference. IIsinho came off the bench for the Union to give them the second-half lead with an assist from Alejandro Bedoya. Two minutes later, Nani crossed the ball to the center of the box and Mauricio Pereyra headed the ball into the net for the equalizer to tie the match.
Despite being out-shot by the Union, the Lions dominated possession and will get ready for their next match on Saturday at 8 p.m. Here are the five takeaways:
Junior Urso Injured Early
Midfielder Junior Urso was off to a great start early in the match but was subbed off after 15 minutes (19 minutes, officially) after picking up an injury. Sebas Mendez was brought into the match and did fairly well in 71 minutes of play. He had a lot of touches and helped out the midfield. I certainly hope all is well with Urso and hopefully the Lions will have him back in time for the knockout round on Saturday night.
Slow Start in the First Half
During the first half Nani, Ruan, Chris Mueller, and Mendez lacked sharpness after a slow start. With both teams already advancing to the knockout round, I wasn’t surprised, with both teams being overly cautious. Nani was quiet with only three shots while Ruan had lost possession and Chris Mueller had no shots. Orlando only had five shots in the first half and Philadelphia had eight. The possession for both teams was even at 50/50 during the first half. The best chance for Orlando came in the 28th minute when Tesho Akindele blasted a shot towards the net but goalkeeper Andre Blake made a big save for the Union.
It was a very physical game for both teams. Orlando City SC had 12 fouls in the match while the Philadelphia Union had 11 fouls. Bedoya and Jakob Glesnes received yellow cards for the Union while Oriol Rosell and Ruan picked up cautions for the Lions. There was controversy towards the end of the match when Antonio Carlos tried to clear the ball and and it appeared it may have bounced off Ruan’s hand but the referee did not take a look with VAR for a possible handball call. The Lions may have gotten a huge break on that one.
Both goalkeepers put up a solid performance in tonight’s game. For the Philadelphia Union, Andre Blake had six saves in the game. I felt his best save was in the 66th minute, when he saved the ball off a Carlos header from the corner kick for Orlando City. For the Lions, Pedro Gallese had three saves in the match but made great passes and his play kept the Lions in the game. Gallese’s best save was in the 84th minute when the Union’s Jamiro Monteiro shot from about 25 yards out. The Octopus dove to his left, stretching with both arms to make the save.
Pereyra Steps Up
Mauricio Pereyra definitely made an impact for the Lions last night, scoring his first goal for the club to tie the game. He played 88 minutes and was creating chances for the Lions, leading the side with three key passes. Pereyra has started all three group stage matches and he came up big for the Lions and ended up clinching the group with his goal.
The Lions will now enter the knockout round and will definitely need to bring that intensity from the first two games to advance and make a deep run in the MLS is Back Tournament.