Orlando City’s (2-2-3, 9 points) early lead was made a mere afterthought by a ravenous New York Red Bull’s (2-6-0, 6 points) attacking core, in the Red Bull’s 3-2 win on Sunday night, but the match did not go by without yet another questionable refereeing decision.
The Kaka-less Lions struck in just the 3rd minute, when a Rafael Ramos cross found Cyle Larin at the near post to tap in passed Luis Robles. For the remainder of the first half, we were frustrated by the Red Bull’s high press and seemed to not be able to string 3 passes together. It was Cyle’s 4th goal of the season and his 8th in his four games in the Big Apple. The first half felt a lot like the first half against New England last week where we scored early and then just absorbed pressure for 42 minutes.
Had it not been for a never-ending series of blocked shots by Tommy Redding, a goal-saving tackle from Seb Hines, a goal-line clearance from Cyle Larin, and a couple of brilliant saves from Joe Bendik, Orlando would have gone into the break, down a goal or worse, but as it stood, it was 1-0 Lions at the half.
Then came the controversy. In the 63rd minute, a Bendik goal kick bounced over the Red Bull’s back line and seemingly put Larin through on goal. As he approached the penalty box, the striker was scissor tackled from behind by fellow Canadian, Karl Ouimette. Although it was difficult to tell if the tackle was in the box or not, it was clearly a foul from behind denying Larin a goal scoring opportunity and should have seen Ouimette shown a red card, but the referee decided to play on.
As the game wore on, the Red Bull’s became even more dominant and it wasn’t long until the floodgates opened. In the 65th minute, Sacha Kljestan fed Mike Grella with a perfect through ball and he slotted home to equalize. They would grab their 2nd just 4 minutes later when Dax McCarty laid the ball back for Grella to chip in a cross/shot which Bradley Wright-Phillips touched home for his first of the season. In the 75th minute, Wright-Phillips would grab his brace when his waiting right boot touched in a perfect Lloyd Sam cross.
An Ouimette own goal in the 85th minute would draw the score closer and make for an interesting last couple of minutes, but the Red Bulls would hold on to the 3 points and, if were being honest, deservedly so. They attempted more passes, just in the attacking half (326), than Orlando attempted in the whole game (296), and out-shot Orlando 25-11!
Orlando City’s next match is on Saturday, when they travel to Gillette Stadium to take on familiar foes, the New England Revolution (1-2-5, 8 points). It is the Lion’s first match of the year that isn’t on a Friday or Sunday and will be shown locally on TV-27.