Injuries leave Orlando City Shorthanded
Orlando midfielder Cristian Higuita was a late scratch for the side leaving Head Coach Adrian Heath with only six substitutes at his disposal. Philadelphia also featured a last minute scratch as Ilsinho was not included in the 18 as suffered a hamstring injury.
Not five minutes into the game, Philadelphia pounced on an early mistake. In the second minute, Philadelphia fullback Keegan Rosenberry sent in a cross across the Orlando box. On the ensuing cross, Orlando center back Rafael Ramos mishit his clearance, leaving the ball right at the foot of CJ Sapong for the easy goal and 1-0 lead.
After the opening ten minutes, Orlando began to wake up. In the next 35 minutes, Philadelphia was out possessed 55-45. In those first ten minutes of dominance, Philadelphia controlled possession 60.5% to 39.5%.
In the dying minutes of the first half, Orlando would find their equalizer. In the 43rd minute, Orlando winger Adrian Winter received a cross on top of the box, where he flicked the ball over Rosenberry and hit the ball on the half volley past Andre Blake for the 1-1 tie.
The main story of the first half was the rough play displayed by both sides. Despite only eight fouls and one yellow card, referee Jair Marrufo missed numerous fouls and began to lose control of the game towards the end of the half.
Chippy Play between Sides Continues in Second Half
The second half feature more of the same rough play between Orlando and Philadelphia, but the game opened up in the second session of play. If there was a minute where the game really opened up, it was certainly the 63rd minute.
In the 63rd minute, Philadelphia Head Coach Jim Curtin opted for a double substitution. He brought in forward Fabian Herbers as well as midfielder Tranquillo Barnetta for Sebastian Le Toux and Roland Alberg.
After the 63rd minute, Philadelphia looked like the better side offensively by creating chance after chance on corner kicks and crosses.
Philadelphia Bookends the Match with Two Goals
Philadelphia opened the scoring early and ended the game with a goal. In the 90th minute, Sapong was fouled on top of the box from about 25 yards out of Orlando’s net. Barnetta stepped up to the ensuing free kick and hit a world-class curling free kick that hit the corner of the cross bar and in the net for the late 2-1 lead.
Heath, sensing the games close coming quickly, brought on newly introduced forward Julio Baptista to chase the game. In the first minute of stoppage time, Winters again almost tied the game for Orlando with an excellent cross. As he has done all season, Blake rose up to the challenge and made an excellent save to help Philadelphia collect all three points.
The final whistle blew from Marrufo as Philadelphia found themselves on top of the MLS Eastern Conference with the win.
Philadelphia will now travel cross-country to the Seattle Sounders for a Saturday April 14th matchup. Orlando will try to regroup next Sunday when they take on New England Revolution at the Citrus Bowl.