Orlando City grits out impressive draw in first leg against Tigres
Orlando City center back Rodrigo Schlel and Tigres striker Andre-Pierre Gignac went to the ground after the French striker attempted to play the ball in the air. Gignac appeared to hit Schlegel and the referee pulled a red card as Schlegel flailed about in the penalty box.
After a lengthy review --- several minutes into first-half stoppage time --- the red card was rescinded and play resumed. But that's just life in Concacaf Champions League.
Orlando City made its CCL debut in dramatic style. The Lions eked out a 0-0 draw at Estadio Universitario in Monterrey, Mexico, against Tigres. The draw sets up a winner-take-all rubber match next Wendesday in Orlando.
Orlando became the sixth Major League Soccer team in CCL history to shut out a Liga MX side in Mexico. Much of the credit for that clean sheet --- the Lions' third in as many matches this year --- goes to goalkeeper Pedro Gallese.
The Peruvian No. 1 was a monster between the sticks for Orlando. Gallese made eight saves, five coming from inside the penalty box. The veteran shot-stopper made several highlight real saves to rob Tigres of clear goal-scoring opportunities.
Head coach Oscar Pareja deployed a conservative, pragmatic approach against Tigres. Orlando City sat in a deep defensive block and played for quick transitions. While the hosts still generated quality attacking opportunities, the Lions gave themselves the opportunity to leave El Volcán with a chance.
Orlando's bevy of quick and skillful did get out on the break and kept the Tigres backline honest. Designated players Martín Ojeda and Facundo Torres looked dangerous at times, and the entire forward group pressed and defended with maximum effort.
Homegrown right back Michael Halliday had arguably the best performance of his young professional career in the biggest moment of his footballing life. He did an admirable job defending the right flank and provided an outlet and spark along the right flank.
Orlando will have a chance to advance to the next round when it hosts Tigres next Wednesday. Kickoff is scheduled for 9:15 p.m. March 15 at Exploria Stadium. The game will also be broadcast on TUDN and Fox Sports 2.