Orlando City completed its 2021 preseason campaign with a 3-2 win over Minnesota United at Exploria Stadium Friday. Junior Urso, Alexandre Pato, and Silvester van der Water provided the offense for the Lions, who jumped out to a 2-0 lead before seeing the Loons rally. Dutch import van der Water, who was seeing his first minutes with his new club, scored the winner late.
The Lions finished the preseason with a 4-1-1 record in matches that were completed. Orlando City was leading 1-0 in the scrimmage against FC Cincinnati before inclement weather moved in and washed out the rest of the match. In addition, a scrimmage against Miami FC was canceled ahead of its scheduled date.
“Preseason has been very successful under a lot of difficulties like every other team,” Head Coach Oscar Pareja said. “But we recognized during this period what we need with players that were in the national team camps, people that were coming back from injuries, and level them up with the group and put each one of them in the best spot possible to perform next weekend. It’s going to be a long journey with 34 games but we are very pleased with the effort in the scrimmages.”
“We are so happy with what we did this preseason because it was hard, but we did well,” Urso said. “The match today was good too. Of course it’s not too important to win because we want to train and we want to get our best to play in the league. I think we are prepared to play against Atlanta on Saturday and I hope we can get the first three points for the city.”
Orlando led Minnesota 2-1 at the break after building a lead on goals by Urso and Pato. Niko Hansen cut the 2-0 lead in half shortly after Orlando’s second goal. In the second half, the Loons leveled the match on a Justin McMaster goal. Pedro Gallese made a key save late to keep the game tied at 2-2, and, as time wound down, van der Water cut through the Minnesota defense and scored to lift the Lions to a 3-2 victory.
“It was a fantastic feeling after a long wait,” van der Water said of his game winner. “It was a good ball from Nani. I’m a striker and I want to score goals and I’m happy with my goal.”
“I think we have a very good player there, but most important, somebody who has been getting into our culture quick and we’re pleased for him,” Pareja said of van der Water.
Pato started playing only a few games ago and finished the preseason as the team’s leading goal scorer, with three (unofficially). He also provided two assists (again, unofficially) in his five matches. With Daryl Dike starting the season on loan with Barnsley FC, and perhaps being sold in the near future, it’s encouraging to see that kind of production from the Brazilian. It’s equally positive to see van der Water making a difference in his first few minutes in purple.
Orlando City will spend the next week training and preparing for Atlanta United. The Lions’ season-opening game will take place Saturday, April 17 at 3 p.m. at Exploria Stadium.
Final Orlando City Preseason Results
- Monday, March 15: Orlando City 1-0 Philadelphia Union
- Thursday, March 18: Orlando City 2-3 New York City FC
- Wednesday, March 24: Orlando City 3-1 Philadelphia Union
- Saturday, March 27: Orlando City 1-0 Columbus Crew
- Wednesday, March 31: Scrimmage vs. FC Cincinnati called with Orlando City leading 1-0
- Saturday, April 3: Orlando City 2-2 Chicago Fire
- Tuesday, April 6: Scrimmage vs. Miami FC — Canceled
- Friday, April 9: Orlando City 3-2 Minnesota United FC