Orlando City fell 1-0 to FC Dallas today in the team’s second preseason game of 2022, dropping to 0-2-0. In front of season ticket holders at Osceola County Stadium, a late first-half goal by Brandon Servania was the difference, but the bigger issue is the health of Designated Player Ercan Kara, who was forced out of the game.
Oscar Pareja’s starting lineup featured several players that fans can expect to see starting the first game near the end of the month. Cesar Araujo and Kara both started in front of their new home fans and 17-year-old center back Thomas Williams got the start alongside Rodrigo Schlegel in central defense.
The Lions got their first chance inside the first 10 minutes through Benji Michel. The Homegrown Player started on the left and most attacks went through the 24-year-old. Michel sent a curling shot toward the near post, but Dallas goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer got down to make the stop.
Despite it being a preseason scrimmage, FC Dallas treated the game as though the visitors were playing for a playoff spot. In the first 10 minutes, the opposition took down Mauricio Pereyra four times. In the 19th minute, a two-footed challenge saw Silvester van der Water shaken up. The Lions’ attacker received treatment from the Orlando City medical staff but was able to continue.
“We had a long break so everybody’s out there trying to compete,” midfielder Joey DeZart said about the game’s physicality. “We’re trying to sharpen up for the season, so that’s kind of what we expect, a physical game.”
Dallas nearly took the lead just before the 30-minute mark when Kalil ElMedkhar brought the ball down and fired on goal from the top of the box. Fortunately for the Lions, the shot just skipped wide of the post, keeping the game scoreless.
Perhaps the most significant moment of the game came just before the half. A deft touch by Kara allowed him to flick the ball by a defender. However, the FC Dallas player left his foot out for Kara to trip over, sending the Austrian to the ground.
The Orlando City medical staff came out to attend to Kara, spending most of their time on his left knee. Eventually, Kara got up but was unable to put pressure on his left leg and had to be helped off the field. He was later seen being driven off on a golf cart.
Shortly after the injury, Schlegel nearly opened the scoring with an own goal. The defender got his head to the ball but sent it towards his own net. Fortunately, the ball went over the bar for an FC Dallas corner kick.
However, FC Dallas made the Lions pay for the defensive mistake. On the ensuing corner by ElMedkhar, Servania was able to get to the ball first, sending it past Mason Stajduhar and giving the visitors a 1-0 lead.
The Lions nearly had an immediate answer when van der Water got a shot off to the right of goal. The block by Maurer went right to Tesho Akindele, who had come on for the injured Kara. However, a last ditch effort by FC Dallas got a foot to the ball before Akindele could get a shot off, allowing the visitors to make it to the break with a one-goal lead.
As is expected in a preseason friendly, Orlando City made several changes at the break. Draft picks Jack Lynn and Brandon Hackenberg came on for Alexandre Pato and Joao Moutinho, academy player Alex Freeman came on at right back for Ruan, and first-team regulars Andres Perea and Sebas Mendez entered the game, replacing Araujo and van der Water.
After a somewhat slow start to the second half, it looked as though the Lions would equalize in the 63rd minute. Lynn was sent through behind the Dallas defense and had a one-on-one opportunity against second-half substitute goalkeeper Antonio Carrera.
Lynn opened himself up for a low far post shot, but Carerra did well to get low and get his foot on the ball. Unfortunately, still fighting for a spot on the team, Lynn was unable to take advantage of the excellent opportunity and the Lions remained down by a goal.
FC Dallas looked for a second in the 69th minute when Szabolos Schon fired on Stajduhar. It was a hard shot at chest level, but the young Lions goalkeeper did well to block it down and keep it close to him, avoiding a potential follow-up shot.
The Lions made a couple of more substitutions in the 71st minute, bringing on DeZart and 2022 MLS SuperDraft selection Nick Taylor for Pereyra and Michel. Shortly after the change, rain began to fall from the sky, sending most of the fans in attendance searching for cover under the short roof over the grandstand.
The last good chance for Orlando City came in the 83rd minute when Taylor sent a lovely ball into the box. The Lions had players there to get on the end of it, but FC Dallas’ teenage goalkeeper did well to come out and collect.
“I thought we played well,” Williams said after the game. “Obviously, we have some things to work on but it’s preseason so that’s what it’s for.”
The game was Orlando City’s second one-goal preseason loss this week. The Lions dropped a 5-4 result against Minnesota United at Exploria Stadium on Thursday.
“Playing more games is always better than playing amongst ourselves,” DeZart said about playing two games in three days. “We want to challenge ourselves against other opponents, see different things, and that’s what it’s about. Preseason, we’re trying different things, playing different competitions, different teams that will help us grow. Come season time, we’ll be ready for different things.”
While the team played well at times, it was clear that the new returning players are still getting used to their new teammates. Particularly noticeable was that play between Michel, Kara, and Araujo was off at times as the new teammates get used to their tendencies.
“It’s still early,” DeZart said about getting used to his new teammates. “We’re trying a bunch of new things, so I think every day we’re learning something new. Especially with the games, I think we’re learning. It’s hard to see right now, but I think we’re learning stuff every day.”
There was no immediate word on Kara’s condition, as he will need to be evaluated by the club’s medical team.
The Lions will take the field again on Friday when they welcome the Colorado Rapids to Exploria Stadium at 7 p.m. in the team’s first game this year open to the general public.