Daryl Dike and Benji Michel both bagged braces and Brandon Austin got his first MLS shutout as Orlando City destroyed the San Jose Earthquakes 5-0 on a rainy night at Exploria Stadium in front of 15,476 fans. Nani also scored for the Lions (5-1-3, 18 points), who conceded possession and picked apart the Quakes (3-6-1, 10 points) in transition throughout the match.
Orlando won its second straight, scoring multiple goals in consecutive matches for the first time in 2021. With the win, the Lions improved to 2-1-3 in the all-time series and 2-0-1 at home against San Jose.
“We’re feeling very proud of many things that we saw tonight,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “We were very sharp in the box today. Having that efficiency in our forwards just makes us feel very optimistic. For me, the highlight is just to be able to recover our solidness defensively. Sometimes you get relaxed when the game gets to 2-0 early, as happened against Toronto. And they kept that solidness. Just keeping our goal clean is is very important for us, if we want to win things this year.”
Pareja deployed the same back five as Saturday night, with Brandon Austin in goal behind a back line of Joao Moutinho, Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, and Kyle Smith. Junior Urso and Andres Perea slotted into the central midfield behind attackers Chris Mueller and Michel (replacing Mauricio Pereyra and Silvester van der Water), with Nani and Dike (in place of Tesho Akindele) up top.
After a half hour delay due to inclement weather, the teams took to the rain-soaked pitch. The Lions wasted no time in jumping on the visitors. Urso fired a shot in the first minute that was partially deflected, allowing JT Marcinkowski to collect it.
Six minutes later, the Lions took the lead from the penalty spot. Michel took the ball into the area down the left and Florian Jungwirth made contact, sending Michel sprawling. Chris Penso wasted no time pointing to the spot. Nani did his usual stutter-step approach and sent an unstoppable shot past Marcinkowski, who guessed right but still couldn’t make the save. Nani’s fifth goal of the season put Orlando City up 1-0 in the seventh minute.
The Lions kept coming. Just a minute after Nani’s goal, Michel fired wide after getting down the left. He had an opportunity to play Dike in but took an extra touch and the San Jose defense cut off his passing lane, forcing him to shoot. Perea got into the box alone in the 11th minute but fired his shot dead straight at Marcinkowski. Seconds later, Urso fired just a foot or so wide.
Michel doubled the lead in the 16th minute. Mueller played a through ball in behind the defense and Paul Marie tried to shield the ball for Marcinkowski to come collect. But Michel pressed hard, stuck his foot around Marie and poked the ball into the net to make it 2-0.
After Michel’s goal he celebrated with a cowboy hat from out of the stands.
“One of the fans gave me a hat, and I was like ‘oh I’m going to celebrate with it,’” Michel said. “I was actually thinking about grabbing the corner flag and start trying to ride it like a horse, but I didn’t want to do too much.”
Orlando eased its high press a bit after the second goal, which allowed the Earthquakes to get a bit more possession, but San Jose wasn’t able to create much with it. In fact, it was Orlando that struck again in the 31st minute.
Nani played a through ball up the middle to Dike into the penalty area. Dike got to the ball first, played it around Marcinkowski with his first touch, then cut back a left-footed shot to score his first goal since returning to the team. The Lions led 3-0.
“Anytime you see people like Nani driving with the ball, you know he’s going to make a nice pass,” Dike said. “So you know all you have to do is make the run. And so I made the run and JT was coming out and I just touched around him and tried to redirect it back towards the goal and it went in.”
“It means a lot to have Daryl back, for sure,” Pareja said.
San Jose managed to earn a couple of corners after the third Orlando goal but the Lions didn’t yield much.
And then the weather moved back into the area. In the 40th minute, heavy rain and some lightning caused Penso to blow the whistle and send the teams to the locker room.
At the time of the stoppage, San Jose was holding a deceptive 61.5%-38.5% advantage in possession, but it hardly seemed that way. Orlando held a 7-4 edge in shots and a 4-0 advantage in shots on goal, with the Quakes getting all four of their shots blocked to that point. San Jose had the game’s only two corner kicks and an 89.4%-85.3% edge in passing accuracy.
After a weather delay of 55 minutes, the game resumed. San Jose coach Matias Almeyda made a bold lineup change, subbing on Cade Cowell and Shea Salinas for Jungwirth and Marie.
Orlando had two excellent chances to add to the lead in the final few minutes of the first half. Urso played Dike down the right side of the box in the 44th minute and the big striker got all of his shot but sent his screamer just wide.
After Eduardo Lopez smashed San Jose’s first shot on target — fought off by Austin for a corner — the Lions closed the half with a golden opportunity at a fourth in stoppage time when Mueller slipped Dike in behind the defense. Dike tried to chip Marcinkowski but didn’t get the shot up high enough and the keeper was able to make a huge save. That was it for the half.
San Jose’s halftime advantage in possession grew to 62.5%-37.5%. The Quakes had more corners (3-0) and were more accurate in passing (89.3%-83.7%). Orlando led in shots (10-6) and shots on target (5-1).
The Lions added to their lead just four minutes after the restart. Nani sent in a good free kick service from the right side and Dike got his head to it, sending it in to make it 4-0 in the 49th minute.
“A good delivery and luckily the ball ended up in the back of the net,” Dike said. “I just made sure I was there, trying to put myself in the best possible position to score.”
Orlando came close a couple of more times following the goal, with Michel taking a crack from distance, but hitting his shot right at Marcinkowski, and Dike getting a shot blocked in front that the San Jose goalkeeper would not have been able to stop had it gone through.
Pareja subbed liberally in the second half, giving Michael Halliday 45 minutes at right back and giving Uri Rosell his first minutes of the season.
Substitute Tesho Akindele fired a shot just over the bar in the 79th minute as Orlando continued to look like the more likely team to score the next goal. That goal came in the 90th minute as Akindele played Michel down the right side of the box and he fired past Marcinkowski just inside the near post for the final margin.
After Mauricio Pereyra hit the post on what could have been a sixth goal deep in stoppage time, the match came to an end.
Orlando out-shot the Quakes 17-11 (8-1 on target). The visitors held an edge in corners (5-2), possession (56.9%-43.1%), and passing accuracy (88.8%-84.3%).
“The vibe in the locker room, you know, everyone’s positive, everyone’s happy we got the ‘dub,’ and you know we’re going up,” Michel said. “We’re going up from here. We’re not stopping until we get to the top, until we’re in first place.”
The Lions will play their third match in a week when they travel south to play Inter Miami on Friday night.