Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Philadelphia Union: Final Score 2-1 as Lions Snap Philly’s Long Home Unbeaten Streak



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Martin Ojeda scored a goal and set up Ivan Angulo for another inside the first nine minutes of the match and Orlando City held on for a 2-1 win at Subaru Park in Chester, PA. The Lions (2-1-2, 8 points) played a brilliant, counter-attacking game plan to perfection and should have scored a few more goals to make the outcome more comfortable after former Lion Andres Perea pulled one back for the hosts.

With the victory, the Lions handed the Union (2-3-0, 6 points) their first home loss since a 1-0 decision to the New England Revolution on Sept. 3, 2021 — that’s a span of 24 straight matches without a defeat (19-0-5) that came screeching to a halt tonight.

“I think the first half we controlled the game,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “Not just in transition but in the middle of the field. I think we were much better there.”

Pareja’s lineup was missing its international players, so Mason Stajduhar started in goal — his second career start in Philadelphia — behind a back line of Luca Petrasso, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, and Kyle Smith. Cesar Araujo and Felipe started in the central midfield behind an attacking line of Ivan Angulo, Mauricio Pereyra, and Martin Ojeda, with Ramiro Enrique up top. It was Felipe’s first start for Orlando City. Ercan Kara (thigh), who was listed as questionable, was not on the bench.

Orlando City had a dream start, opening the scoring in just the second minute. Enrique knocked down a Stajduhar long ball over the top to Pereyra in the middle of the field. The captain’s first touch was a lofted ball over the back line that checked up nicely for a streaking Ojeda. The Designated Player smashed his shot past goalkeeper Joe Bendik to open the scoring.

Seven minutes later, Ojeda set up a goal, slipping Angulo behind the defense. The Colombian slotted past Bendik for his first MLS goal, doubling the lead in just the ninth minute.

“Important to score early in the game,” Pareja said. “That just gave us confidence, for sure against a rival that is very strong at home. We know about their verticality and their volume going forward but being as (we were) leading the score and having consecutive goals — that for sure just gave us confidence during the game. That was very important for us.”

“Every single day this week, we knew exactly where we want to attack the way we want to attack,” Felipe said. “I think the most beautiful thing tonight is that we won in the way that we trained, in the way that we planned for this game. We were able to find the pockets and our moments in behind the synchronizing was very good. Our front four had an amazing game.”

Although both teams were missing key attacking players, Philadelphia’s excellent back line was completely intact for this match. The Lions simply pulled them apart at times. Orlando’s front four attackers — Enrique, Angulo, Pereyra, and Ojeda — played their best match of the season.

Smith had a difficult first half, and that began in the 13th minute, when he unnecessarily conceded a corner kick. Just after that, a silly foul near the corner flag gave the Union a free kick. Orlando was able to deal with both set pieces without damage but the Union started to gather momentum from the sustained pressure.

The bad half continued in the 17th minute when Smith was defending former Lion Perea on a routine cross. Smith got destroyed on the aerial ball and Perea’s initial shot came right back to him off the upright. He put the second chance home to pull one back for Philadelphia.

Perea played with a great deal of determination and showed a side of himself he never did while with the Lions, perhaps wanting to make his old team pay for trading him. Regardless of the reasons, it was a Perea Orlando fans never got to see.

Stajduhar made a mess of a goal kick in the 23rd minute, sending it right to Mikael Uhre. The Philadelphia striker got a shot off from just outside the area but it was right at the goalkeeper.

Ojeda sent a shot from distance high and then had a shot blocked as the Lions continued to look for counter opportunities. Felipe set up the latter with a great read of the play, stealing a pass and starting the break.

A nice buildup down the right in the 31st went awry when Smith sent his low cross straight to Bendik.

Stajduhar made a key save in the 37th minute on a set piece try from Jack Elliott after a questionable handball call gave the Union a free kick in a dangerous spot just outside the area.

Schlegel cleared the ensuing corner and the Lions went on the counter but Angulo made a mess of the final pass and Pereyra ended up with the ball but his shot was blocked.

Smith conceded a dangerous free kick just outside the box, straight out from goal, in the 44th minute with a silly challenge on Perea and it nearly cost Orlando.

Philadelphia worked a training ground short free kick to Perea down the left. Stajduhar caught onto it just before the kick was taken and called it out to his teammates but they were slow to react and Perea fired into outside netting from a severe angle.

Philadelphia held a slim edge in possession (51.2%-48.8%), corners (2-1), and shots on target (3-2) and a big lead in shot attempts (12-5) in the opening half. Orlando passed slightly more accurately (71.9%-70%), but neither team was clinical in that area.

Although neither side scored in the second half, there were plenty of chances both ways. The first chance came seconds after the restart. Joaquin Torres’ header either went straight off the post or Stajduhar got a touch on it but either way, the Union came within inches of tying the match just after the second-half whistle.

Ojeda tried a cheeky spinning volley in the 55th minute but it bounced in weakly for Bendik to collect. Three minutes later, Ojeda broke into the box on the right but his shot attempt was blocked by Olivier Mbaizo.

Torres blasted a shot in the 59th toward Stajduhar’s goal but the rising shot fizzed over the bar.

The Lions lacked the final bit of precision throughout the second half, preventing them from building on their lead. Ojeda’s pass in the box was intercepted in the 60th minute and just seconds later, Angulo was sent in down the left side but his shot went just wide of the right post. It appeared on the replay that Bendik got a fingertip to it but referee Allen Chapman signaled for a goal kick. Another chance went wanting in the 63rd minute when another poor pass in the final third from Smith was knocked aside by Jakob Glesnes.

Philly got back on the front foot after that and Glesnes blasted a knuckling shot from long range that Stajduhar could only fight off with a punch.

Uhre sent a header well wide of the right post from the top of the area in the 68th minute as the Union kept coming. Kai Wagner smashed a laser shot just over the bar on a solid volley attempt in the 74th minute.

A minute later, Stajduhar made a massive save, getting a hand up to knock Alejandro Bedoya’s point-blank header over the bar.

Bedoya then sent a shot wide on the ensuing corner kick.

Pareja sent Carlos on for his first minutes of the season, going to a five-man back line. Petrasso came off for the Brazilian and Smith moved to the left side, with Schlegel sliding to the right. Ojeda played deeper on the right side after the change.

The Lions had some excellent chances to put the game away in the late stages. McGuire unselfishly slid a centering pass across for Ojeda in the 87th minute but the Designated Player’s point-blank shot was right at Bendik, who gave no rebound with three Orlando players nearby.

In the 90th minute, Matthew Real’s header from around the penalty spot sailed wide, and moments later Perea sent a one-time shot right at Stajduhar for the easy save.

Ojeda missed another opportunity to put the game away in stoppage time and seconds later, substitute Dagur Dan Thorhallsson sent a shot from the right side just wide of the left post.

The last half-chance of the game fell to defender Jack Elliott in front of Orlando’s goal but he was surrounded and his shot was deflected, bouncing harmlessly off to the side for Stajduhar to collect.

The Lions were able to see out the final seconds and claim their first road win of 2023.

Orlando City held the edge in possession (52.6%-47.4%) and passing accuracy (76.2%-71.8%), while the Union had a lopsided advantage in shots (26-12), but just a slight lead in shots on target (6-4). The hosts also won more corners (7-4).

“Second half, knowing that we were leading the game and Philadelphia pushed ahead their structure and started getting more players forward, we understand that those spaces were going to be created. Not easy to sustain it with that pressure but we found ways. We could have scored two, three goals more in the second half also, so the match was very well played by the players.”

“We train for those moments where we are going to suffer and stick together, and this is just what we train every day,” Felipe said. “We know in difficult times we’re going to stick together and suffer, and that’s exactly what we did today.”

The Lions return home next Saturday to host Nashville SC at 7:30 p.m. at Exploria Stadium.


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