Orlando City

Orlando City vs. FC Cincinnati: Final Score 1-0 as Facundo Torres’ Goal Helps Lions Sink League Leaders

Lions take four out of six points on the two-match road trip heading into the international break.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Facundo Torres struck just before halftime to lift Orlando City to a massive 1-0 road win over FC Cincinnati at TQL Stadium in Cincinnati, OH. The Lions (13-6-8, 47 points) held off a furious rally attempt by FC Cincinnati (17-4-6, 57 points) with only 10 men after Wilder Cartagena was sent off late, but managed to weather 13 minutes of stoppage time to become the first team all season to beat Cincy on its home field.

The win extended Orlando City’s current league unbeaten streak to five matches (4-0-1), with four of those games coming on the road. In an eight-day span, the Lions defeated the leaders of both MLS conferences.

“The first half was in a very good level that we created most of the chances,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “We controlled the game and we should be thinking this is really the consistency that we’re fighting for and playing for. The second half, Cincinnati, who is a very good team, started just putting more numbers up front and we started defending a little lower than we wanted. But today we played very well with the ball and we played even better without it, which you have to know how to do that.”

Pareja’s lineup featured Pedro Gallese in goal behind a back line of Rafael Santos, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, and Dagur Dan Thorhallsson. Cesar Araujo and Cartagena started in central midfield behind an attacking line of Ivan Angulo, Mauricio Pereyra, and Torres, with Duncan McGuire up top.

Orlando City played an excellent first road half, keeping Cincinnati penned back through timely pressing and good control of the midfield.

FC Cincinnati, however, tried to open the scoring via the long ball. The first was sent forward for Brandon Vazquez in the sixth minute but Gallese came off his line quickly to knock it away. A minute later, a through ball found Sergio Santos breaking behind the defense. The forward scored but the flag immediately came up. There was a lengthy delay to review the play, as Rafa Santos was not even with his back line teammates, making it a close call. Ultimately, the call on the field was upheld and the game remained scoreless.

Orlando was wasteful over the next few minutes as Torres had a shot blocked behind for a corner and Pereyra tried a tricky through ball for McGuire despite having an open Torres breaking into space on his right moments later. Pereyra then sent a free kick from the left on target, making for an easy punch away for goalkeeper Roman Celentano.

Cincinnati got its first prolonged spell of possession after that and kept it for nearly four minutes before a ball into the area was knocked away by Schlegel.

McGuire went down holding his shoulder in the 27th minute after tangling with Matt Miazga on a 50/50 ball. Pareja was angry that no foul was called and McGuire had to substitute off, needing help to remove his jersey. Ramiro Enrique came on for the rookie on the day the Lions transferred striker Ercan Kara to Samsunspor in Turkey.

“The (other strikers) know and understand that this is an opportunity now for them, and I think they have the talent to do it,” Pareja said. “Duncan, Jack Lynn, and Ramiro, they have to take that position and embrace it in the best way and produce. I’m glad that Ramiro came and participated in that one goal. It’s important for us. He creates different movements. Duncan, Jack, and Ramiro provide different characteristics up front — even Martin (Ojeda). “

Moments later, Gallese went down holding his groin area. He got treatment for a few minutes and was able to continue.

A good chance nearly fell for Araujo in the 35th minute on a corner cross by Torres. Araujo looked to have a tap-in at the back post but Santiago Arias got there just in time to prevent a shot. Enrique followed with a shot that was blocked.

The Lions continued to have the better looks. Angulo shot wide in the 38th minute and Torres had a shot deflect into the outside netting a minute later. Orlando City still found the breakthrough just before the break.

Pereyra sent a ball to Enrique down the left side of the box. The Argentine took a heavy first touch and had to then beat Miazga to the end line, where he slid and knocked it back out in front of goal. The ball found Torres, who slotted home, opening the scoring in the 44th minute with his 11th of the season.

“It was a play where Wilder recovered the ball in the middle of the field and quickly played it over to Mauricio,” Enrique said through a club translator of the winning play. “And it just all kind of happened really quick, where I opened myself up for the diagonal and he hit it, and I hit it on the fast break, but I had a touch there that was a bit too far to control. So, I just kind of hit it back into the middle of the area, and thankfully Facu was there and he hit it, and he was able to score. And thankfully, with that goal, we were able to win tonight.”

The Lions saw out seven minutes of first-half stoppage time and took their slim lead into the break.

Orlando City held the halftime advantage in possession (50.5%-49.5%), shots (7-2), and corners (4-0). The hosts passed more accurately (87%-83.9%). Each team got just one shot on frame, officially.

In the second half, Orlando City was content to play solid defense and look for counterattacking opportunities and that helped the hosts take the lead in time of possession and most of the other categories. Orlando City’s block was forced lower and lower but the Lions defended resolutely and the hosts didn’t create many clear-cut chances. They wasted the few they did create.

Cincinnati kept more of the ball after halftime and it started right away, as the hosts held possession for over a minute after kicking off to restart the game. The possession broke down on a pass too far in front of Luciano Acosta. Jansson did well to deny a cross intended for Vazquez in the 51st minute.

Enrique nearly got in behind moments later after beating Miazga in the open field but second-half sub Yerson Mosquera ran him down from behind to thwart the counter opportunity. Anguo cut inside and fired a shot in the 55th minute but Miazga blocked it.

Acosta finally got a good look at goal in the 58th minute, when he got through the right side of the defense, but his shot was at Gallese, who made the save. Three minutes later, Cincinnati should have scored. A great, curling long ball wrapped around the Orlando defense and found second-half sub Aaron Boupendza, who made a mess of his shot while 1-v-1 with Gallese and sent it trickling softly wide to the left.

Orlando then controlled the attack for the next few minutes but couldn’t do anything with a couple of good crosses from Angulo.

Gallese was called into action again in the 69th minute as Santiago Arias fired a shot from the right, but El Pulpo was up to the challenge.

The defense in front of Gallese blocked a dangerous Acosta free kick from just outside the area in the 74th minute after Santos was called for a foul.

Boupendza headed wide in the 82nd minute on a rare moment of a Cincinnati attacker being left alone in front of goal. Just after that, Pareja sent on defensive reinforcements, bringing on Junior Urso, Michael Halliday, and Kyle Smith for Torres, Santos, and Thorhallsson.

Drew Fischer added eight minutes of stoppage time that grew to 13 after he went to the monitor to check whether Boupendza deserved a red card for an arm to Cartagena’s face. His decision was merely to caution the Cincinnati striker.

Moments after the check, there was a foul on Orlando City from distance and tempers flared. Cartagena got knocked down, then got back up and got into an opponent’s face. Fischer showed him a straight red, although there didn’t seem to be anything to warrant it. However, Fischer did not go to the monitor to re-check the decision and the Lions finished the match a man down.

The closest Cincinnati came to equalizing was in the 97th minute, when substitute Marco Angulo got a head onto a cross but sent it just wide. Acosta missed the net entirely from the top of the box in the 100th minute.

The last opportunity came in the 13th minute of stoppage time when the ball was sent in from the left. Mosquera tried to knock it on frame but it was a bit high for him and his intercession prevented Miazga from getting a chance at the back post.

That was it as the whistle blew for full time and the Lions had a huge win, finishing the season 1-0-1 in two matches against the team that should go on to win the Supporters’ Shield, barring a collapse in the final games of the season.

FC Cincinnati finished the game with the advantage in possession (56.7%-43.3%), shots (13-10), shots on goal (4-1), and passing accuracy (87.4%-81.6%). Orlando City won more corners (5-2).

“It was a great game by us. It was a very important victory,” Enrique said. “You know, they’re the first-place team in the entire league and this was their first loss at home. And, you know, coming into the game, we knew that it was going to be a difficult game, and that’s the way it was, and thankfully we stuck together as a team and we were able to come out with the win.”

“There’s a lot of things that we have to be proud of,” Pareja said about the performance. “But then we have many as well that we need to get better. If we keep this mentality we can fight. And I’m glad that the feeling that we can relate to it, but you have to maintain that consistency.”

The Lions will have a week off due to the upcoming international window before hosting the Columbus Crew on Sept. 16 at 7:30 p.m.


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