Orlando City (12-6-7, 43 points) and St. Louis City (14-9-2, 44 points) met Saturday night in a clash of the “City SCs” and the game did not disappoint. The teams provided a high-tempo, physical affair without devolving into a chippy tit-for-tat, and that should have left every fan well entertained at the close of the evening. (Yes, even St. Louis fans, although they may need to let the sting of the 2-1 Lions victory settle for a little bit.)
The first half was not short of chances for either team, but both teams did well to limit the other’s final opportunities, allowing only a handful of shots apiece in the first half with only Duncan McGuire’s effort forcing a save by the opposing goalkeeper.
Dagur Dan Thorhallsson and Facundo Torres came out of the break firing immediately, changing up their run patterns to allow Thorhallsson to lead Torres into space. Torres then worked his finishing magic to lift the Lions into the lead. Orlando City continued limiting St. Louis to low-probability chances from distance until the 79th minute, when finally the Lions conceded on a controversial call that once again demonstrates that PRO does not understand the meanings of ‘clear’ and ‘obvious,’ but alas.
Orlando redoubled its efforts to press for the win in the remaining time and was rewarded with Ramiro Enrique forcing a yellow card by Jake Nerwinski and Rafael Santos forcing a penalty kick for handball with a canon of a shot off Anthony Markanich during the resulting restart. Torres converted the penalty to complete his brace in the 91st minute and put Orlando in the lead.
The game was far from over, however, as nine minutes of stoppage time were added. Mostly this consisted of St. Louis desperately stretching for an equalizer, but as the game approached the end of stoppage time, late sub Jack Lynn sprung Enrique in behind, forcing Nerwinski to take him down in a red-card, last-man challenge just outside the box. Martin Ojeda made a valiant effort to make it three on the restart with the last kick of the game, but the effort was right at Roman Burki and the final whistle sounded immediately after 101 minutes of soccer.
As you can imagine, a high-tempo game can lead to some high-action images, so we hope you enjoy these photos of the excitement of the first-ever meeting between the two clubs.