Orlando City SC 1-0 New York City FC: Lions open stadium in perfect fashion

Orlando City opened the Orlando City Stadium in perfect fashion, as the Lions beat New York City FC 1-0 in their new stadium.

Cyle Larin scored the only goal of the game 16 minutes in, after the Orlando number nine was picked out by Giles Barnes in the penalty box with a great cross, and the Canadian striker headed the ball past the reach of the NYCFC number one, to secure the win for Orlando.

It wasn’t a perfect night for the hosts, though. Orlando lost their captain and star designated player, Kaka, 10 minutes in after the former Real Madrid and AC Milan playmaker injured his hamstring early. However, his replacement, Barnes, provided Larin with the only goal of the evening.

Early problems for Orlando

It was a content start to the game in the inaugural match at the new Orlando City Stadium, that officially opened an hour before kick-off. Orlando City caused New York problems early on with the Lions stretching the play to cause havoc down the NYC flanks.

The hosts' enthusiasm was cut short as they were forced into an early change. Their captain, Kaka, was forced to come off for Barnes just 10 minutes into their MLS opener with after the Brazilian midfielder picking up a hamstring injury.

Kaka down injured. | Photo: Alex Menendez/Getty Images
Kaka down injured. | Photo: Alex Menendez/Getty Images

Larin makes history

However, the substitute was pivotal in the opening goal of the game, as the 28-year-old midfielder played in an incredible cross to Larin at the far post, who headed the ball past the new NYCFC number one, Sean Johnson, to open his account of the 2017 MLS season, and to raise the roof off the new Orlando stadium.

NYC wake up

That was the wake-up call for the visitors, and the Blues started to break forward after Larin’s opener.

Jack Harrison and David Villa linked well in the final third, and new boy Maxi Moralez also linked the play from the midfield to attack efficiently. However, the Orlando defence stood tall and firm, and did well to deny the highest scoring team in the league last season from equalising.

January signing Alexander Ring was almost gifted an equalising goal for the visitors in the final chance of the half, when the Finnish midfielder disposed the last Orlando man, setting himself through on goal, but his strike flew straight into the hands of Joe Bendik.

City fight on

Harrison was denied the equalising goal seven minutes after the restart. After some good play down the left wing and a knock down by the City captain, Harrison volleyed a great strike goal wards, but Jonathan Spector made an incredible goal line clearance, to deny the English born winger.

Orlando’s injury list grew bigger with 17 minutes to play, when Larin fell awkwardly after an aerial contest with Ronald Matarrita resulted in the big Canadian striker coming off for Cristian Higuita.

No luck for New York

The visitors made a tactical change with a 15 minutes to go, switching to a 3-4-3, and introducing Tommy McNamara for RJ Allen to add more width to the attacking formation.

The addition of McNamara almost paid off, as the midfielder linked superbly with Maxi Moralez to find Villa in the box with a looping cross, but the captain’s header flew wide of the target.

Despite the attacking pressure and the chances, New York City were unable to claim an opening day point, and Orland City fans will sing through the night on a day they will never forget.