Orlando City welcomed the Houston Dynamo to Exploria and secured all three points in a 2-1 win. Ercan Kara scored both of Orlando’s goals, although they were far from solo efforts. The Dynamo kept things close, making for a dramatic second half as the Lions were able to hold on for their first regular-season win at home since April 30. Here are our five takeaways from the match.
A Rollercoaster of Emotions
The Lions may have won, but it was far from a comfortable affair. The first half was fairly smooth sailing for Orlando as the Lions took the lead and mostly just had to contend with hard fouls and chances from distance by Houston. The second half was a different story. There was hardly any time to enjoy Orlando doubling its lead in the 58th minute as the Dynamo equalized just a minute later. The game script flipped after that, with momentum shifting into the Dynamo’s favor as they searched for an equalizer. In the 87th minute, Thorleifur Ulfarsson went down in the box and the referee reached for a yellow card. Just as supporters had to brace for an assumed penalty, the referee revealed he was booking Ulfarsson for simulation. Disaster truly did seem to strike in the dying moments of the match though, as the ball wound up past Gallese and in the back of the net. But Darwin Quintero had been in an offside position and influenced the play. The goal was waved off and the Lions held on for the win.
A Pair of Designated Goals
Orlando’s three Designated Players all came together to create Orlando’s first goal of the match. Mauricio Pereyra lofted a nice pass to Facundo Torres, who found Ercan Kara directly in front of the net. It was a goal that showcased what each player brings to Orlando’s offense. Pereyra can seemingly place the ball anywhere on the pitch no matter the angle, Torres has the speed and touch to add an edge from the wings, and Kara’s positioning gives him plenty of opportunities. Kara was credited with the brace, but his second goal came from him deflecting Pereyra’s shot into the net. The Austrian forward put four of his five shots on target and now has six goals this season while Pereyra leads the league in assists, with eight. The trio did well while on the pitch together and hopefully that trend continues as the season goes on.
The Defense Kept It Together
Conceding just moments after scoring is never a great look and the defense looked far from solid during the second half. It benefited greatly from a lack of the final pass or finishing touch from Houston. Regardless, the defense managed to hang on and claim all three points despite Kyle Smith playing at center back. Smith didn’t play poorly by any means, racking up seven clearances and stopping a pass in the box that would’ve granted an open look on goal. Ruan could’ve done better defensively, but the back line itself did well coming together and backing each other up while Rodrigo Schlegel was suspended. Gallese was also great in this one, making tough saves once Houston started to put shots on frame. This team may only have one clean sheet in its past 10 games across all competitions, but it showed plenty of resolve and persistence in this match.
Moutinho and Mulraney Make a Nice Duo
Orlando left back Joao Moutinho has quietly played nearly every minute this season and did well again in this match while playing on the left alongside Jake Mulraney. Neither’s stats from this match will jump off the page, but the two did the little things throughout the match. Mulraney recovered a cross to keep possession and cycled the ball to Moutinho, who found Pereyra to ignite the series of passes that led to Orlando’s first goal. In the second half, Moutinho whipped in a cross that Mulraney raced to flick on, the ball bouncing around a bit before falling for Pereyra to shoot and knock into the goal after Kara’s deflection. Mulraney’s willingness to take on defenders and crash the box allows Moutinho to sneak into dangerous areas to cross from rather than the two running on top of each other down the wing. Mulraney was subbed off for Benji Michel in the 65th minute and it will be interesting what the timeshare at that position will look like moving forward as Michel earns more minutes following his injury.
The Angry Swede
Robin Jansson won’t be available for Orlando’s next match after he was shown a yellow card for dissent just 14 minutes into the match. Maybe it’s the gas prices or the summer heat, but it didn’t take long for Jansson to receive yet another yellow card when it absolutely could have been avoided with a cooler head. After a foul was called on Pereyra, Jansson was vocal about the call and was quickly booked. It was his eighth yellow card of the season — the most of any player in the league. This card was just the latest time he’s been booked for dissent, but it now puts the Lions in a difficult spot next week. He’s an excellent player, as evidenced by his skill on both sides of the ball shown in this match. But none of that matters if he’s not on the field.
That is what I took away from Orlando’s win at home against the Houston Dynamo. Let me know what you thought of the match in the comments below.