Orlando City

Orlando City vs. FC Cincinnati: Final Score 1-0 as 10-Man Lions Concede Early Once Again

A goal conceded early and a first-half red card put Orlando in a bad spot early and the Lions could never recover in yet another home loss.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Luciano Acosta scored less than half a minute after kickoff and Rodrigo Schlegel was sent off in the 23rd minute, yet the Lions still had opportunities to beat FC Cincinnati at Inter&Co Stadium. That was especially true after Cincinnati (6-2-3, 21 points) also had a man sent off late in the second half. However, great goalkeeping by Roman Celentano and the same lack of finishing touch that has plagued Orlando (2-5-3, 9 points) all season was again on display and the Lions fell 1-0, dropping to a pitiful 1-3-2 at home on the year.

“Another frustrating night, because the result obviously at this point where we are with urgency to add points is the feeling that we all had in the locker room,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “But I think the effort and the character of the players demonstrates that we still are brave and were trying to bounce back. I thought we were the best team, but that doesn’t give us anything.”

Pareja’s lineup was almost the same as the starting XI against Toronto, with Schlegel starting over David Brekalo, who was on the bench. Pedro Gallese was in goal behind a back line of Rafael Santos, Robin Jansson, Schlegel, and Dagur Dan Thorhallsson. Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena started in the central midfield behind an attacking line of Ivan Angulo, Martin Ojeda, and Facundo Torres, with Duncan McGuire up top.

Cincinnati needed just 22 seconds to open the scoring. DeAndre Yedlin sent Acosta down the right wing and the Cincy Designated Player cut inside twice to beat two defenders and his shot bulged the net behind Gallese to make it 1-0. It was his sixth goal of the season.

“You can say we weren’t concentrated at the start, or you can say anything, but the reality is that can’t be allowed to happen, and that’s something that we talked about amongst the players as well,” Gallese said.

Orlando came within inches of tying the game in the fifth minute on the game’s first corner kick. Ojeda sent in a good ball that fell to Cartagena’s foot The Peruvian’s volley shot crashed off the front of the crossbar and the visitors cleared.

The next good chance for either side came in the 19th minute off a free kick won by Araujo. Taking the set piece himself, the midfielder hit his entry ball off the defenders in front of him, but he was able to recycle it wide. The ball was sent across the box and bounced just inches behind where Torres could get to it and bounced harmlessly away.

A minute later, the game changed for the worse for the Lions.

Schlegel appeared to have plenty of time to make a routine play on the ball but somehow got himself in a poor position and had it taken away. Yuya Kubo broke in toward goal all alone and Schlegel caught up from behind, knocking the ball away. Referee Ismail Elfath initially ruled that he made a clean tackle but after Orlando won a corner kick at the other end, he took a look at the monitor and changed his call. Schlegel was sent off and Cincinnati awarded a dangerous free kick just outside the penalty area.

Thorhallsson blocked the ensuing free kick but was a bit shaken up and needed a quick visit from the trainers before continuing.

Brekalo came on for Ojeda and Orlando shifted to a 5-3-1, looking to keep Cincinnati to just the one goal and hoping to find opportunities to counter. Neither side was able to create much after the formation change, but the visitors were hardly pressing with the lead already in their pockets.

Thorhallsson went down off the ball just before halftime and needed to be helped off the field. Michael Halliday replaced him.

The Lions had the best chance in first-half stoppage time, as a ball into the box fell dangerously in front for Halliday. He and a Cincinnati defender went down with the ball next to them and Angulo tried to dig it out so he could shoot, but the defense arrived and cleared the danger.

“It just kind of bounced around. I tried to do everything I could to just kick it towards the goal, but his foot was there and then it just got caught up, so there was nothing I could do,” Halliday said.

That was the last sight of goal for either side and Cincy took its one-goal lead to the break.

Cincinnati unsurprisingly held the advantage in possession (55.1%-44.9%) and passing accuracy (90.3%-82.2%), and also led in shots on target (2-0). Orlando City attempted more shots (4-3), and won more corners (3-1).

Orlando City came out of the locker room looking to get even on the scoreboard, and the first chance of the half went to the Lions. Angulo blazed down the right and got to a loose ball first. He beat his defender and rounded the keeper, but that action allowed the defense to get back and clear his shot off the line in front of goal in the 48th minute. A follow-up shot by Araujo was deflected just wide seconds later.

Cincinnati tried to break in transition off the ensuing Orlando corner and Santos did well to track back and make a sliding challenge to prevent a scoring chance. Unfortunately, the Brazilian appeared to dislocate his right shoulder doing so. He came off and was replaced by Nico Lodeiro, with Angulo sliding back to the left back position.

Halliday made a sliding effort to get to an Angulo cross in the 56th minute but the ball was just inches out of reach in front of a gaping net. The flag came up on the play afterward, but it appeared Angulo did well to time his run and the review would have been interesting had Orlando scored.

Cartagena thought he scored in the 68th minute as he blasted a shot into the back of the net. The flag, however, came up for an offside on Torres, adding to the series of unfortunate events. Elfath never went to the monitor for the review. This time, he took the word of video assistant referee Fabio Tovar.

“Very frustrated with the call on the goal that was taken from us,” Pareja said. “I don’t know why (Elfath) did not go and see it. Since we have technology and we can have space to take time and make good decisions. At this point in my review it was just very doubtful.”

Jansson couldn’t quite get onto a header across the box by McGuire in the 70th minute off an Orlando set piece, as the Lions continued to look for the equalizer.

The visitors nearly doubled their lead in the 71st minute when Kubo got sent in down the right channel. He tried to go near post but missed just wide of the right upright.

Elfath leveled the playing field in the 78th minute when second-half sub Bret Halsey committed a foul on Angulo and then knocked the ball away to waste time. That was Halsey’s second booking and put Cincinnati down to 10 men.

“When they got the red card, I wanted just to have the two central backs again and then push Wilder in front of them so he could push Cesar,” Pareja said. “That way we can advance another forward or another midfielder — in this case Lodeiro — higher on the pitch. But it didn’t happen much. I thought that we were playing better before.”

Halliday broke in behind the defense on the right in the 82nd minute and fired a shot that deflected off a defender. That changed the flight path of the ball and Celentano made a good save to keep it out.

Substitute Luis Muriel won a free kick in the 85th minute and Lodeiro took the set piece, but he sent it right at Celentano as there was a bit too much whip on his cross. Celentano then made the save of the night in the 88th minute. Angulo blew past Alvas Powell on the left and chipped a cross into the middle. Lodeiro nodded it on frame and Celentano threw up a hand at the last second to keep it out.

Orlando City couldn’t fashion any danger in the seemingly short four minutes of stoppage time and the Lions fell for the second straight match.

FC Cincinnati finished with the advantage in possession (54.7%-45.3%) and passing accuracy (89.8%-81.1%), while Orlando City held the edge in shots (9-6) and corner kicks (5-3). Each team put three shots on target.

“I told the players what I saw on the pitch a was team with heart, with character,” Pareja said.

“I think what we can take out of this game is our mentality was good just to keep going with 10 men versus 11 most of the game, and just the fact that we kept pushing,” Halliday said. “That’s it, nothing more. It seemed like everything was going against us as a team. None of us want that first play to happen. It can’t happen. We did well to keep going after that but it’s frustrating that nothing more came of it.”

“The reality of the game overall is that we’re in a bad run right now, but there’s still plenty of games left that we have to fight for and continue pushing forward,” Gallese said. “But, you know, football is like life, and in life you’ve got tough moments, and you just have to face those moments and push forward and move ahead. And that’s what this team is going to have to do.”

The focus now turns to how quickly Orlando can get its two starting fullbacks healthy after both left the pitch with injuries tonight.

The Lions go on the road next Saturday as they visit the Philadelphia Union.


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