The Lions’ opening match in the 12th annual Carolina Cup Challenge marked its first-ever contest against fellow expansion side New York City FC (NYCFC), providing a preview of their Major League Soccer (MLS) home-opener at the Orlando Citrus on March 8, 2015.
In a thrilling fixture, which featured a regular season intensity level, both teams battled to a 1-1 draw. Brazilian superstar Kaká scored the first goal of the match in the 31st minute, but NYCFC’s David Villa set up Khiry Shelton’s goal in the second half to level the score-line.
- 10′ Although Orlando controlled much of the possession in the opening half, it was Villa who provided the first threatening chance of the match when his effort from 20 yards away ricocheted off the crossbar.
- 14′ Shortly afterward, Kaká matched Villa’s strike with a bit of magic in the final third, when he took on two NYCFC defenders and slipped it through Sebastian Velasquez’s legs before having his shot deflected wide for a corner.
- 22′ Kaká continued to cause problems for the New York backline when he received a well-timed through ball in behind from Bryan Róchez. The Brazilian attempted to chip Josh Saunders on his ensuring chance, but the goalkeeper did well to push it wide.
- 25′ Orlando continued to pour on the chances in the first half when Kevin Molino forced Saunders to make another difficult save from distance.
- 31′ The Lions would eventually capitalize on one of those chances when Kaká displayed a moment of brilliance, combining with several Lions in the midfield before blasting the ball into the back of the net from the edge of the area to give Orlando a 1-0 lead. The finish marked his second goal in four preseason matches with Orlando City.
- 45′ Although both sides finished the half level with 5 shots each, the City defense faced very little pressure in the opening 45 after Villa’s early effort off the crossbar – capably maintaining the clean-sheet with a 1-0 advantage at the half.
- 46′ Orlando City Head Coach Adrian Heath made one substitution at the half, replacing Cristian Higuita with midfielder Darwin Cerén. Meanwhile, NYCFC Coach Jason Kreis kept his starting 11 from the first half intact.
- 56′ NYCFC equalized within the first ten minutes of the second 45 when Villa capitalized on a defensive error from Orlando and played Khiry Shelton in behind for a comfortable finish.
- 57′ Orlando came close to moving ahead one minute later when Róchez cleverly created space in traffic on the edge of the area to fire a shot on target which hit the crossbar, landing to Molino who was ultimately ruled offside.
- 69′ With slightly over 20 minutes remaining, both sides introduced an entirely different lineup – with Earl Edwards, trialist Seb Hines, Conor Donovan, Tyler Turner, Luke Boden, Harrison Heath, Tony Cascio, Eric Avila, Pedro Ribeiro and Cyle Larin entering for Orlando.
- 73′ The fresh legs on the pitch provided a spark to the match as both sides began exchanging chances. Ribeiro came close to giving the Lions the lead with a strong header from a free-kick but saw his chance go just over the crossbar. On the ensuing play, NYCFC created a dangerous opportunity that was deflected wide for a corner.
- 84′ As the game approached the final minutes, Cascio provided a final attempt for the Lions to secure the win, hitting a powerful shot on target that was saved by the goalkeeper.
- 90′ After two minutes of added time, the referee blew the final whistle, resulting in a 1-1 draw.
Team 1 2 Final
Orlando City 1 0 1
New York City FC 0 1 1
ORL – Kaká (Kevin Molino) 31′
NYC – Khiry Shelton (David Villa) 56′
Orlando City SC – GK Donovan Ricketts, D Sean St. Ledger, Aurélien Collin, Rafael Ramos, Brek Shea, M Lewis Neal, Amobi Okugo, Cristian Higuita (Darwin Cerén 46′), Kevin Molino, Kaká, F Bryan Róchez
New York City FC – GK Josh Saunders, D Wingert, Jason Hernandez, Andres Mendoza, Josh Williams, M Ned Grabavoy, Andrew Jacobson, Mehdi Ballouchy, F David Villa, Tony Taylor
*The following Orlando City substitutions were made in the 69th minute.
Orlando City SC – GK Earl Edwards, D Seb Hines, Conor Donovan, Luke Boden, Tyler Turner, M Harrison Heath, Eric Avila, Tony Cascio, Pedro Ribeiro, F Cyle Larin
Time of Match: 7:30 p.m. EST
Date: February 21, 2015
ORL – Bryan Róchez (Yellow Card) 20′
ORL – Rafael Ramos (Yellow Card) 40′
ORL – 12
NYC – 9
ORL – 13
NYC – 13
ORL – 2
NYC – 4
ORL – 3
NYCFC – 6
The 2015 Major League Soccer season kicks off at the Orlando Citrus Bowl as the Lions host New York City FC on March 8, 2015 at 5:00 p.m. ET.
Orlando City will host several events leading up to March 8 as part of Operation #FillTheBowl. Admission to many of these events includes a ticket to the historic first game. More information is available at www.OrlandoCitySC.com/FillTheBowl.