Orlando City traveled to the nation’s capital to take on D.C. United at Audi Field on Saturday night and came away with a 1-1 draw against the Eastern Conference opponent. A heavily rotated squad went on the road with a Concacaf Champions League match against Tigres only days away and was able to bring home a point on the road. What can we take away from the road draw?
A Rotated Result
This was the third match of five in a 15-day span for the Lions. As such, Orlando City sent out a rotated roster with players like Abdi Salim, Rafael Santos, Duncan McGuire, and Kyle Smith getting the start. Add on that it was on the road, and it was a recipe for Orlando City to lose the club’s first match of the season. Instead, we got a surprise debut goal from a rookie, and the possibility for a win if not for a golazo from D.C. United. Road points are never easy in MLS, and with Orlando City playing without a best 11, it’s an important result.
El Pulpo Continues to Impress
Pedro Gallese gave up his first goal of the season, but to be honest I’m not sure that any keeper in the world is stopping that shot. Otherwise, El Pulpo kept Orlando in the match throughout the first half with ridiculous saves in the 28th and 34th minutes. In fact, if they still had the MLS Save of the Week, this would surely be it.
Absolutely MASSIVE stop @pedrogallese | #VamosOrlando pic.twitter.com/5vVTCM2WUF— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) March 12, 2023
Pedro made four saves, two of which were spectacular. I’m not going to link the D.C. goal — you can easily find it — but suffice to say it was good enough to beat the best keeper in MLS so far this season.
McGuire’s Very Good Day
McGuire made his first MLS start against D.C. United. He scored his first professional goal and performed his first goal celebration, which was a back flip that was very reminiscent of one Dom Dwyer.
Things you absolutely love to see @DuncanMcGuire5 | #VamosOrlando pic.twitter.com/ovKRBFGuyH— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) March 12, 2023
Of course, Dwyer is 5-foot-9 while McGuire is 6-foot-1, making the back flip all the more impressive. Regardless, the rookie’s goal couldn’t have come at a better time for Orlando City on the road.
VAR Does Good
Video review worked the way it’s supposed to work on Saturday night. We don’t always say that, but in this case it’s true. A handball penalty was called on Wilder Cartegena in the 57th minute. When it was shown in replay, everyone that wasn’t a D.C. supporter could tell that Cartagena was pulling his arm behind his back, closer into his body, and away from the ball. It was a no-brainer for the referee to overturn, and justice was served. I know that it often feels like the video review process creates more problems than it solves, but it worked the way it was supposed to in this case.
Breaking the Curse
Nothing special happened in this match, but that’s the point. There were not ridiculous breakdowns from Orlando City that resulted in a stupid goal for a Wayne Rooney team. There was no weird call that gave D.C. United the advantage when it mattered. There was no moving a free kick ball 10-feet closer to help Rooney. It was a standard match with goals from each team, there were no controversial calls — that video review decision was correct — and, as such, no Rooney-esque shenanigans that break our hearts. Curses are not real, but sometimes they feel like they are. Not having any of it in this match is refreshing.
That is what I saw during the match. What did you see? Let me know in the comments section below.