Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Nashville SC: Final Score 1-0 as Lions Add Another Road Win on Duncan McGuire’s Goal

The Lions dug in and rarely tried to score, but managed to do so with their only shot on goal to defeat Nashville away.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City out-Nashville’d Nashville SC at Geodis Park in Nashville, TN, grinding out an ugly 1-0 win on the road in a match that featured very few shots or clear-cut scoring chances. Rookie Duncan McGuire scored late in the first half and the Lions (16-7-9, 57 points) controlled the pitch in the second period to see out the game without Nashville (12-10-9, 45 points) creating much in the way of chances to equalize.

It was Orlando City’s first away win at Nashville (1-0-3) and continued the Lions’ trend of beating good Eastern Conference teams on the road since their return from Leagues Cup.

“We’re very happy with the result,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “The whole squad was very committed today with the result. The variations that we tried and we did during the game…they responded to us. That’s a great effort for the team that is getting mature and knows where we are, and playing against a very difficult team as well. It’s difficult always against Nashville. They have this characteristic that creates a lot of chaos and those transitions.”

Pareja’s lineup featured a couple of lineup changes. Pedro Gallese started in goal behind a back line of Rafael Santos, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, and Kyle Smith. Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena took their customary spots in central midfield behind an attacking line of Martin Ojeda, Mauricio Pereyra, and Facundo Torres, with McGuire up top.

The first half mainly belonged to Nashville until the closing minutes. Nashville looked organized and nearly impossible to break down. The Lions struggled to know when to press or to press as a team when they tried. Nashville fashioned some early chances on the break and always seemed to be the more threatening side.

Nashville got the game’s first good look just five minutes in. Santos turned the ball over in the attacking left corner and with two passes Fafa Picault had the ball at the top of the box. He cut inside but fired his shot just wide of the left post.

Four minutes later, Picault headed over the bar on another transition opportunity as McGuire fell asleep waiting for a pass, which allowed Walker Zimmerman to cut in front of him and steal it to start the break.

“The first — I would say — 15 minutes we wanted to create a different sequence, because we wanted to use different spaces. But we felt uncomfortable,” Pareja said.

In the 23rd minute, Cartagena blocked a shot by Hany Mukhtar from outside the box. A minute later, Randall Leal had a go from well outside the box but hit it high above the crossbar.

The hosts picked up a few unnecessary yellow cards in the middle of the half. Brian Anunga caught Cartagena from behind to earn the first. Mukhtar picked up the second for angrily kicking the ball away after being called for offside. The third went to Sam Surridge, who stepped on Jansson’s foot long after he’d released a pass. It wasn’t intentional, as the forward was watching the ball and not his opponent, but Jansson was down for a couple of minutes in obvious pain. Thereafter, the home fans booed Jansson every time he touched the ball for his sheer audacity to get stepped on.

The Lions finally attempted a shot in the 44th minute and they made the most of it. Pereyra sent Ojeda down the left and the Designated Player sent in a good ball to McGuire. The rookie flicked it off the left post and in past Joe Willis to make it 1-0 with his 10th goal of the MLS season. The play looked offside from the sideline camera angle and it was extremely close, but the flag stayed down and the video assistant referee did not see enough on the replay to overturn it, ruling that the pass from Ojeda was even with McGuire, and the Lions led 1-0.

Neither team got a good look in the four minutes of stoppage time and Orlando took its slim lead into the locker room. It was a strange halftime score considering the flow of the first half.

At the break, Nashville held a 6-1 advantage in shots. However, Orlando City held more of the possession (56.6%-43.4%), passed more accurately (87.2%-81.3%), and put more shots on target (1-0). Neither team won a corner kick.

Nashville came out of the locker room with more energy, quickly getting forward and earning a free kick on the right and a yellow card on Cartagena, who was trying to cover for Santos, who had fallen on an earlier challenge. Ojeda blocked Daniel Lovitz’s attempt on the set piece, setting up the game’s first corner, but Nashville couldn’t make it pay off.

Moments later, Ojeda was dispossessed and thought he was fouled, but no call was made and the hosts quickly countered. Picault’s cross through the six was cleared over the bar by a sliding Schlegel on a vital intervention.

Orlando then fashioned some opportunities — if not outright chances. Torres turned down an opportunity to shoot from near the top of the box, then worked his way to the end line on the left and crossed the ball into the outside netting. In the 58th minute, Jansson got forward, laide off a pass and continued his run. The ball came back to him but McGuire couldn’t get onto his low cross in the box and there were no Lions on the far side of the box to get onto it.

Nashville manager Gary Smith tried some substitutions and shape changes but nothing much helped the hosts, who were turned away time and again by Orlando City’s defense. The Lions managed to defend well as a team without dropping deep and setting up their block too low, as they’ve sometimes done in the past. Mukhtar wasn’t able to create much, despite dropping deeper to get onto the ball.

Pareja also substituted liberally, sending on Ivan Angulo and Ramiro Enrique in the 65th minute for Pereyra and McGuire, Junior Urso for Torres in the 72nd minute, and — changing the shape to five at the back — Antonio Carlos and Dagur Dan Thorhallsson for Ojeda and Smith in the 85th.

Schlegel blocked a Mukhtar header in the 67th minute on what was probably Nashville’s best chance of the second half. Schlegel again blocked a Mukhtar shot in the 85th minute amidst the Lions winning free kicks and getting to loose balls first all over the pitch.

“The defense action from Rodri there in the second half was very important, because otherwise the Nashville guy in behind me will just put the ball in the goal. So he did very well there,” Jansson said.

Urso sent an ambitious attempt toward goal from extreme range in the 87th minute, hoping to catch Willis off his line. He didn’t, and the shot was well off target anyway, but it did count as the Lions’ second shot attempt of the match.

That turned out to be the final attempt for either time, despite a generous serving of 11 minutes of injury time added on, which ended up spilling over into a 12th. The Lions won a ton of throw-ins and the five-man back line held Nashville without any late attempts. Gallese held on for his 10th clean sheet of the season — a career high since joining MLS — without having to make a save.

Lovitz got sent off with a second yellow card deep in stoppage time and that was the game.

Orlando City held its exact same possession advantage from halftime at the final whistle (56.6%-43.4%). The Lions also passed more accurately (84.5%-79.5%) and finished with more shots on goal (1-0). Nashville held the advantage in total shot attempts (8-2) and corners (4-0).

The Lions ended up doing more damage in the second half by simply keeping the ball and playing safely than trying to score a second goal.

“The second half I thought we controlled,” Pareja said. “We asked the players to control and just let it come and see if we can use those spaces in behind when they come. Very well executed by the players and I saw this group very mature today.”

“Three nice points,” Jansson said. “I think our shape of the team was very good. We had Wilder and Cesar in front of us dictating the middle and always were aware of the Mukhtar guy was on the field — something we talked about before the game because we know he’s good, and you have to respect that, be aware of that. In the end, I think we were solid back there and the wingers and the striker were doing a huge job to contribute to that too, so that’s a team effort right there.”

The Lions have another quick turnaround, returning home Saturday to host the New England Revolution.


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