Orlando City outlasts the New York Red Bulls for season opening win
Orlando City winger Facundo Torres took to the penalty spot in the 56th minute. The Lions struggled to break through New York's pressure, and they had created no chances to this point in the game.
The Uruguayan lined up his penalty kick, sent Red Bulls' goalkeeper Carlos Coronel the wrong way and clinched a season-opening win for Orlando.
Orlando City (1-0-0, 3 points) defeated the New York Red Bulls (0-1-0, 0 points) 1-0 at Exploria Stadium Saturday night in the Major League Soccer season opener. The Lions remain unbeaten in season openers, with three wins and six draws across nine MLS openers.
"I think the best part of the game for us was that we covered that intensity at the time and our hearts were great today," Orlando City head coach Oscar Pareja said postgame. "It was a very deserving three points."
It was a difficult night for Orlando's attacking players. The physical pressing style from the Red Bulls gave Torres and the other creative players issues at times.
"The pressure that they bring is very difficult because I like to have a little bit more space out there to work," Torres said.
The Lions struggled to create from open play, but a gift in the New York penalty area gave them their goal. On a routine corner kick, Red Bulls center back Sean Nealis deflected the ball with his arm. Head referee Guido Gonzales Jr pointed to the spot immediately to give Orlando a penalty kick.
Torres said he felt confident and wanted to take the penalty in that spot. He rewarded his teammates by converting the spot-kick.
"We talked about and trained penalties yesterday, and today I just felt like I had a ton of confidence," Torres said. "I told that to my teammates and thankfully they agreed and let me let me take a penalty kick and thankfully I scored.”
The young winger put the ball under his shirt to celebrate the goal. He announced after the game that he and his partner are expecting a girl.
The Uruguayan scored the game-winning goal, but goalkeeper Pedro Gallese stole the show.
The Peruvian international made four saves and kept a clean sheet in a Man of the Match performance. Gallese's biggest moment of the night came in the final minutes of normal time.
New York came breaking down the field and into the attacking third. Midfielder Cristian Cásseres Jr. received the ball in the corner of the box and glided towards the goal. The Venezuelan uncorked a powerful shot to tie the game, but Gallese held his ground and sent away the effort with his shoulder.
Cásseres had another chance to tie the game on the dying kick of the match. The Red Bulls earned a free kick in a dangerous area in the final seconds of stoppage time. The midfielder stood over the ball and lofted a shot over the wall and at Gallese.
El Pulpo wasn't phased and calmly caught the ball to seal an Orlando victory.
"That's what he's there for, his experience and those actions where we need him the most," Pareja said about his No. 1. "We're happy to have Pedro back and he knows that he's important piece of this team."
Orlando City returns to Exploria Stadium Saturday to host FC Cincinnati. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and the game will be streamed on MLS Season Pass.