From: Orlando Sentinel
Number of sources: Two
Word Count: 703
Date of Publication: May 22, 2017
Despite beating rival New York City FC twice this season, Orlando City knew earning a third win would not be easy.
The Lions (6-4-2, 20 points) couldn’t pull off the sweep, falling 3-0 to NYCFC (6-4-2, 20 points) on Sunday night. After a 5-0-1 start at Orlando City Stadium, the Lions suffered their first home loss of the season in front of an announced sellout crowd of 25,527.
“Grave, grave disappointment to lose our first game in front of our home fans,” Lions coach Jason Kreis said. “I thought the fans were excellent again tonight. The atmosphere in the crowd was terrific.”
Following a strong start to the season, Orlando City has had a hard time picking up points in the midst of a busy schedule. The team has played three games in eight days and the Lions’ winless streak is now at five games, with their most recent victory coming on April 29.
“Five games without a win, so it’s … bothering us,” Kaká said. “So, we have all week to prepare for the next game.”
Orlando City got off to a slow start early against New York. In the opening minutes, the Lions didn’t have much going on offense and had difficulty maintaining possession, with NYCFC spending a lot of time near Orlando City’s goal.
In the 14th minute, the Lions were out of position after a cornerkick was deflected and the ball bounced off Kaká’s arm in the box, setting up a NYCFC penalty kick. Forward David Villa took the shot and fired the ball beyond goalkeeper Joe Bendik’s reach into the bottom right corner of the net, giving NYCFC a 1-0 lead.
“It’s one of those games where, I feel like, as stupid as this is to say, goals for me change games,” Kreis said. “It’s very cliché-ish, but I really felt like that was where we were at tonight.”
Orlando City continued to look out of sorts throughout the rest of the first half. Despite earning four corner kicks, the Lions struggled with set pieces and had difficulty creating chances.
It didn’t take long for NYCFC to add to its lead.
In the 35th minute, defender Ethan White passed across the box to forward Rodney Wallace. Bendik tried to disrupt the pass and ended up out of position as Wallace put away an easy close range shot, giving NYCFC a 2-0 lead.
The Lions were more aggressive in the closing minutes of the half, but they couldn’t put a shot on frame. Orlando City picked up numerous fouls and gave away chances to NYCFC . Going into halftime, forward Carlos Rivas had been hit with a yellow card and Orlando City had conceded nine fouls. While two NYCFC players also received yellow cards, the team only conceded three first-half fouls.
Coming out of halftime, Orlando City continued to be slightly off target on passes and NYCFC attacked. New York came close to adding to its lead in the 55th minute when midfielder Maxi Morález fired a shot from just outside of the box, but Bendik was able to swat it away.
Kreis tried to give his team a jolt of energy with a couple of subs in the 60th minute, bringing on Giles Barnes for Kaká and Matias Pérez Garcia for Antonio Nocerino. Just a few minutes later, Orlando City finally got an opportunity to score.
In the 63rd minute, Ben Sweat took down Scott Sutter in the box, generating a penalty kick for the Lions. Cyle Larin took the shot, but it bounced off the right post and Orlando City remained scoreless.
“We had an opportunity to score our goal, which could have changed the game in our direction, and we didn’t take it,” Kreis said. “So, all in all, it wasn’t our night.”
Nineteen minutes later, Villa added another goal to NYCFC’s lead after getting a pass from Morález while charging up the middle of the field. Villa beat Bendik one-on-one and buried a shot in the back of the net. The Lions could not respond in the game’s closing minutes, going on to lose 3-0.
When Kreis was asked what the mood was in the locker room was after the match, he responded, “Gutted. … That’s important that we have the collective mentality that we don’t like to lose.”