There’s never a dull moment in the Orlando City-New York City FC rivalry.
The two 2015 expansion clubs met for the third and final time of the year at Camping World Stadium and, in another entertaining and exciting match, it was Orlando City pulling out the 2-1 victory to claim the season series (2-0-1). Kaká scored a goal in each half to lead his team over David Villa’s New York City side, sandwiching his goals around Stiven Mendoza’s second-half strike.
Orlando snapped a two-game home losing streak — and four-game winless streak overall — with its first victory since the 3-1 win over the New England Revolution in Jason Kreis’ coaching debut for Orlando City. Kreis gets a win in his first match-up with the club that let him go at the end of the 2015 season.
“For me, the most important thing tonight was the performance,” Kreis said after the match. “Not necessarily the scoreline or anything else, we continued improvement in the performance, continued improvement in how we’re defending. It wasn’t a perfect night, and we’re after perfect.
“The first 15 minutes of the second half, we were poor and we got punished for it. Credit to the guys, they had a positive reaction to that adversity and they ended up winning.”
Kreis, who was fired by NYCFC last October after just one season, was adamant after the match that beating his former club meant nothing more to him than beating any other team in the league.
“The importance of the win has nothing to do with the opponent to me,” he said. “As I said before last week — and the week before that, and all of this week — it wasn’t about me, it’s about the performance of the team and what the guys are willing to do, so I’m really pleased for the players, they really deserve the credit,”
After dominating the possession through the first 30 minutes of the match, Orlando City finally broke through in 33rd minute.
Vintage Kaká came back to life on the goal, as the Brazilian midfielder muscled his way past NYCFC defender Jefferson Mena, breaking free inside the box to get a shot off on Josh Saunders, who saved the initial effort before Kaká came in to punch it in at the goal line.
The goal came off of a counter attack by Orlando City, starting with Matias Perez Garcia, who stole the ball in the defensive end. Antonio Nocerino recovered the loose ball about 10 yards north of the penalty area. The Italian sent Perez Garcia forward and MPG gave it off to Kaká on the right wing. The captain put in the rest of the work, eventually finishing off the sequence with the ball in the back of the net for his fifth goal of the season.
Roughly 10 minutes into the second half, Mendoza collected a rebound off of Frank Lampard’s shot on Bendik from inside the penalty area and knocked it home to level the score at 1-1.
But Orlando City answered back with a goal of its own from the penalty spot eight minutes later. It was Kaká who drew the penalty kick, going down on an inside run in the penalty area on a foul by Maxime Chanot. And for the first time in, like, ever (seemingly), Kaká went to the right on the PK attempt, beating Saunders to put his side back in front, 2-1.
It was the first time ever in MLS that Kaká has recorded a brace for Orlando City, and against the team versus which he scored his first MLS goal last March in the club’s league debut.
“I’m happy with that as well because I would help my team being effective and scoring,” Kaká said about scoring twice. “But every time I can say that the most important thing is that the team wins, and every time I can help like this, it’s perfect. Special night for me.”
From there, play continued to shift in Orlando City’s favor. Minutes after the PK goal, in the 66th, Nocerino ripped a shot from distance that rolled just wide of the net.
With a chance to pad the Lions’ lead in the 70th minute, Kevin Molino, after beating Saunders, saw his empty net shot denied on the goal line by Ronald Mattarita, who had come flying in to save the shot on a sliding effort before colliding with the goal post.
The final 15 minutes quickly became Orlando’s effort to just keep NYCFC from leveling the score once more to preserve the victory — which the Lions were able to do, avoiding conceding a late goal.
“And it was an important win because of all the teams slightly above us in the standings also won this weekend, so we kept pace, and that’s important for us,” Kreis said.
After three matches in nine days, Orlando City will now get a much-needed break from action with the international break coming up. Cyle Larin and Molino will head off to their respective national teams for World Cup qualifiers while the rest of the group prepares to travel back to Canada to take on the Montreal Impact in a week and a half, on Sept. 7.