In prime time on Friday night, New York City FC fell to Orlando City SC 1-0 at Yankee Stadium in New York. Cyle Larin opened the scoring early on and, despite waves of attack from NYC, they could not find an equalizer and lost out on three points at home.
Out of the gates, both NYCFC and Orlando City started quickly in an exciting early season Eastern Conference matchup at Yankee Stadium. However, it did not take long for a breakthrough to occur as Cyle Larin headed home to take Orlando up 1-0 in just the 7th minute of the game. Rafael Ramosed down the wing and delivered a superb ball into the box, which should have been smothered by NYC keeper Josh Saunders but fell out of his reach for Larin to put into the back of the net. After the goal, Orlando took their foot completely off the gas and NYC settled into domination of possession and attempts.
The 17th minute was the initial moment the match came to life for City. Andrea Pirlo whipped in a corner kick that sailed to back post and found Mix Diskerud, who powerfully volleyed straight at Joe Bendik for his first save of the night. Three minutes later, forward Tony Taylor found himself free in the box and curled a shot wide of the frame of goal. City defender Rónald Matarrita took two 25 yard efforts on goal just minutes after, with one saved by Bendik and the other fizzed just wide of the right post. Against the run of play, Orlando received a sensational opportunity to put the score at 2-0.
Christian Higuita rocketed a half volley just over the bar before Kevin Molino received the ball on another opportunity in front of an open goal, but his shot was saved off of the line by the head of NYCFC defender Andoni Iraola. At half time, the score was 1-0 to the Lions, after the seventh minute strike by Larin.
New York started the second 45 minutes how they ended the first: in full control of the match. With much possession and a barrage of shots at the Orlando net from the home side, the Lions were living dangerously in the concrete jungle. Every waning minute seemed to get worse for OCSC as Antonio Nocerino pleaded to be subbed out, and Larin was replaced by Pedro Ribeiro in the 55th. Diskerud escaped the confines of the Orlando back line in the 61st minute to find himself clear on goal, but his shot was finely saved by Bendik, one of the biggest saves of the night.
At the other end of the ground, just a few minutes later, Molino was all alone in the center of the NYCFC box but took too many touches when he should taken a shot on a wide open goal to spurn the chance. David Villa soon had an attempt to score a miraculous bicycle kick from a Pirlo pass, but the pressure of Seb Hines led him to shoot ten yards over the bar. Adrian Winter missed a shot to the left side for Orlando just a minute later as well. New York City then had the best moment of the match to draw the score level.
NYCFC forward Stiven Mendoza was slipped through the right side of the field and smashed a shot off of the post in the 74th minute, leaving Orlando fans with their hearts in their mouthes as the intensity increased significantly. Josh Saunders once again made a great save for NYCFC to keep them in the match after he denied Carlos Rivas' excellent shot headed towards the right side of the goal. The last chance for New York City FC was deep into stoppage time when they earned themselves a free kick on the left side of the 18-yard box. Andrea Pirlo sent a pass straight to the middle of Orlando's box to Matarrita, who was wide open with the whole goal to aim for. Yet, he could only thrash the ball far over the bar and the match ended 1-0 in favor of Orlando City SC.
Off Night For NYCFC Attack
NYCFC controlled the match thoroughly with 66 percent of the possession, and they even produced key goal scoring opportunities with sixteen attempts at Joe Bendik. Unfortunately, they only placed six shots on frame and along with a few solid saves by Bendik, struggled to put a ball in the back of the net. The team lacked a finishing touch that they possessed through the first two matches and could not find the final ball against an Orlando defense that they could have taken full advantage of throughout the night.
Where Results Lead
After Friday night's battle in the Bronx, Orlando City jumped past NYCFC in the Eastern Conference table and now are in second place only a point behind the Montreal Impact, who face off against FC Dallas on Saturday night. NYCFC are (1-1-1) and are fourth in the Eastern Conference after three games played. Granted that the standings will be shifted after this weekend, though these three points for Orlando are massive for the club in their early season push for playoff positioning. That's crazy talk right? Three weeks into the season and playoffs are already being brought up. Yet, this matchup was important because it was such a winnable road game for Orlando City, and getting three points out of the affair could mean so much more later on in the year.