A brace from Cyle Larin handed Philadelphia Union their first loss of the 2017 season on Saturday night as they fell to Orlando City SC 2-1 in Orlando.
A discombobulated first half favored the home side, with Larin scoring on a tap-in after 40 minutes. The Union leveled the match on a sharp counterattack and fine finish by C.J. Sapong in the 55th minute. But the home side carved open the Union’s defense with some pretty play in the 71st minute, ending with a neat finish by Larin.
Union head coach Jim Curtin made only one change to the starting XI from the season’s first two matches. With Jay Simpson sidelined due to injury, Sapong made his first start of the year. Ilsinho returned from injury to make the 18 for the first time.
Orlando started the match on the front foot, harassing the Union out of possession and charging forward on the counterattack. Goalkeeper Andre Blake came off his line multiple times to clean up dangerous balls. The best early chance for Orlando actually came through Oguchi Onyewu, when his misplayed clearance looped over Blake and hit the crossbar, inches away from bouncing into the net.
With the Union unable to get so much as a foothold in the increasingly violent match, it would be the home side that struck first. A ball over the top found Carlos Rivas, kept onside by a lollygagging Fabinho, who held off a challenge from Keegan Rosenberry to put a low cross through Blake’s box. Waiting for it was Cyle Larin, unbothered by Fabinho, and the Canadian executed an easy tap-in to give Orlando the lead six minutes before halftime.
The shellshocked Union retreated to their locker room following a fruitless corner kick routine at the end of the half.
Curtin chose to send his thoroughly outplayed XI back out with no changes for the second half. Orlando started the half aggressively, getting the ball in dangerous places and testing Blake with a long-range strike by Matias Perez Garcia.
Against the run of play, though, the Union snatched a goal. In the 55th minute, Rosenberry pilfered the ball near midfield and sprung Fabian Herbers into space, who played a ball towards Alejandro Bedoya in the box. Bedoya got a half-touch and the ball bounced to Sapong, making a strong run down the center of the box. His cool headed finish beat Joe Bendik to equalize the scoreline. It marked Sapong’s second goal of the season.
Ilsinho (and his new goatee) replaced Herbers in the 61st minute, the first appearance of the season for the Brazilian winger. After the dire lack of possession in the first half, the Union began to move the ball with more fluency, sending Orlando chasing the game.
Out of nowhere, the Lions struck back. A flick from Rivas and through ball from Perez-Garcia sliced open the Union backline, and Larin made no mistake with his one-time finish. The purple masses rejoiced, seventeen minutes away from three points.
Roland Alberg replaced Derrick Jones, and Fafa Picault came on for Chris Pontius as the Union sought to snatch a valuable road point. It seemed like the Union would find that equalizer in the second minute of stoppage time. But a low, hard drive by Ilsinho found the outside of the post, and a free header by Bedoya fell victim to a marvelous starfish save by Joe Bendik. Failing to muster a second goal, the Union fell 2-1 in their first ever visit to Orlando City Stadium.
The Union are next back in action on Saturday, April 1, when they travel to RFK Stadium to face struggling DC United.
- Malfunctioning midfield: The Union couldn’t generate any possession in the first half. With the wide players eschewing simple passing for the ambitious ball, the central pair of Medunjanin and Jones found themselves bypassed.
- C.J. shows up: With first-choice striker Jay Simpson sidelined, Sapong scored his second goal in two games — a clever header to give the Union some hope.
- Cyle Larin is very good: The young Canadian striker might not be long for MLS, as he was rewarded for sharp play all night long with his pair of goals.
Andre Blake, Fabinho, Richie Marquez, Oguchi Onyewu, Keegan Rosenberry, Derrick Jones (Roland Alberg 77′), Haris Medunjanin, Fabian Herbers (Ilsinho 61′), Alejandro Bedoya, Chris Pontius (Fafa Picault 86′), C.J. Sapong
Unused Subs: John McCarthy, Ray Gaddis, Jack Elliott, Warren Creavalle
Orlando City SC
Joe Bendik, Donny Toia, Jonathan Spector, Jose Aja, Will Johnson, Servando Carrasco (Cristian Higuita 71′), Antonio Nocerino, Giles Barnes, Matias Perez Garcia (Hadji Barry 81′), Carlos Rivas (Pierre Da Silva 89′), Cyle Larin
Unused subs: Josh Saunders, Tommy Redding, Richie Laryea
OC: Cyle Larin — 39′ (Carlos Rivas, Jonathan Spector)
PHI: C.J. Sapong — 55′
OC: Cyle Larin — 71′ (Matias Perez-Garcia)
OC: Carlos Rivas — 25′ (Not retreating)
PHI: Oguchi Onyewu — 28′ (Unsporting behavior)
PHI: Haris Medunjanin — 80′ (Unsporting behavior)
OC: Matias Perez Garcia — 80′ (Unsporting behavior)
OC: Jonathan Spector — 82′ (Dissent)
|5||Shots on Target||2|
|3||Shots off Target||9|
|52.7%||Duels Won %||47.3%|