On May 16th DC United (2-0-4, 10th, Eastern Conference) fell 1-0 to Orlando City SC (2-3-0, 2nd, Eastern Conference). The game’s only goal came in the seventh minute, thanks to DC midfielder Mauricio Pereyra. Even though the hosting United controlled possession and had twice as many shots as Orlando, DC only had one shot on goal all game. Despite the loss, United’s player of the game midfielder Paul Arriola and 18-year-old, homegrown midfielder Kevin Paredes proved to be bright spots for the Black-and-Red.
Orlando had a very early chance in the first 30 seconds of the match, however, winger Nani could not steer his header on target. In the seventh minute, the Lions jumped to an early lead, putting pressure on the hosts who only scored five goals through their first five games. Starting in their own half, Orlando capitalized on a 50-50 ball that United midfielder Joseph Mora backed away from. With United’s defense on their heels, the Lions pushed the ball upfield. From near midfield, a chipped ball over the top found Pereyra in the box. After a quick 1-2 with forward Tesho Akindele, Pereyra beat the blinded keeper, Jon Kempin, at his near post.
Despite the early setback, DC responded extremely well and nearly leveled the game two minutes later. Beautiful one-touch passing set up a great opportunity in front of goal for the Black-and-Red. The Lions’ defense was prepared for the shot though, clearing the ball before the referee whistled for a foul after keeper Pedro Gallese was knocked over. In the 21st minute, DC had another opportunity to equalize after crossing the ball into the box, however, the headed shot lost its speed after bouncing off the pitch into Gallese’s hands. Two minutes later, Gallese made an impressive save, denying a strong effort from DC forward Edison Flores at the near post.
Throughout the first half, Nani continued to switch and open play. Constantly looking for gaps between United’s backline, the Portuguese captain broke down DC with through balls into open space. In the 31st minute, Orlando played a short corner, finding Nani at the top of the box, who blasted a shot just over the crossbar.
The Black-and-Red started to gain momentum as the half came to a close, but could not take advantage of a breakaway in the 36th minute and a free-kick two minutes later. Heading into the locker room, the hosts had a large advantage in regards to set pieces, yet this proved to be a weak spot for DC, who could not create shots on goal from these opportunities. Even though the Lions lacked possession and clear chances on goal, their early goal proved to be the difference at halftime.
Before the start of the second half, United manager Hernán Losada made a tactical change, bringing on defender Julian Gressel for midfielder Moses Nyeman. Less than five minutes into the half, United linked up perfectly to set up Arriola, who dragged his shot wide of the post after dribbling into the box. In the 64th minute, Losada tried to inject some energy into his team by making a triple substitution. Midfielder Felipe Campanholi Martins, striker Ola Kamara, and Paredes came on for midfielder Júnior Moreno, striker Adrien Perez, and Arriola respectively. The introduction of Paredes added fresh legs and speed onto the left flank, which helped draw fouls and open up the game for the Black-and-Red.
In the 72nd minute, Paredes earned a free-kick, leading to United’s best chance of the game. Whipping a ball into the six-yard box, Gressler narrowly missed Kamara, who cut across the keeper’s line of sight. Despite his blinded vision, Gallese was barely able to control the ball before it crossed the line. With United’s attacking threat growing even more dangerous, Orlando’s manager Óscar Pareja brought on midfielder Joey DeZart and striker Christopher Mueller as refreshments for his tired squad.
With the game coming to an end, tempers on both sides started to flare. After a coming together at the corner flag and the lack of a card from the referee, fans started booing and throwing objects onto the field. Despite the United players trying to reason with the fans objects continued to be sporadically thrown onto the pitch.
Unfortunately for the hosts, the late game theatrics from the fans was the only surprise to come in stoppage time. On the other side of the pitch, Orlando was more than happy to settle with a 1-0 win. Sunday night’s win moved the Lions up to second place in the Eastern Conference standings. Sitting with a 2-3-0 record, Orlando remains one of three teams in the MLS with an unbeaten record. A strong defensive performance against DC also saw defender Antonion Carlos earn a spot on the Audi MLS Team of the Week.
On May 23rd at 7 pm EST, the Black-and-Red will look to bounce back against the reigning Supporters’ Shield winners, the Philadelphia (2-2-2, 6th, Eastern Conference), who are coming off of a 1-0 victory against the New York Red Bulls (2-0-3, 9th, Eastern Conference).