ORLANDO, FL (April 15, 2017) –
Orlando Head Coach Jason Kreis had his team in a 4-4-2 diamond. Cyle Larin and Carlos Rivas. Captain Will Johnson started in wide midfield. Joe Bendik started in goal.
Galaxy Head Coach Curt Onalfo made no changes from the Starting XI that won against the Montreal Impact. Gyasi Zardes made his second start of the year next to Giovani dos Santos up top. Jermaine Jones and Romain Alessandrini started in midfield. Nathan Smith and Jelle Van Damme were at defense. Clement Diop was in goal.
It was all Orlando City SC in the first half. The home side came out on the front foot. Larin was constantly being occupied, but that left room for Rivas, Johnson, and Cristian Higuita to create. Rivas was snake bitten, hitting a set piece that went off the post twice before Gyles Barnes had a shot blocked by Van Damme.
Orlando got their breakthrough in the 9th minute. The Galaxy had just cleared their lines, with Scott Sutter sent a long ball back into the final third. Johnson ran onto it with Nathan Smith losing him. The midfielder picked his head up and fired a curling ball over Diop to score.
The Lions continued to push, getting 54% possession in the first half. Rivas had several opportunities. Alessandrini tried to create chances for the Galaxy, but his corners were easy pickings for Bendik. Dos Santos had a header chance towards the end of the half, but it was wide of goal.
The second half became a bit more chippy, with the two sides battling for possession in the midfield. LA came alive in 54th minute, with a series of chances. Zardes chested a ball down on the box to take a shot, winning a corner. The corner and followup chance saw Alessandrini put two dangerous balls in that were cleared out.
OCSC responded with a counter, ending in a Rivas cross that nearly found Larin. Diop made the save of the game in the 67th minute. Orlando was building from out wide. The play led to Orlando with Barnes and Larin in on goal alone. Diop came off his line to block the shot from Barnes, but they collided and Diop came up injured. Diop ultimately recovered and remained in the game.
The Galaxy came alive around the 77th minute after Orlando made a formation change. Dos Santos facilitated the ball. Alessandrini and the full backs got involved, but they could not find an equalizer. Finally, they had a breakthrough.
Alessandrini got the ball at the top of the box in the 82nd minute. He took a touch around the defense to create a shooting lane and fired it past Bendik.
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) April 15, 2017
Orlando would rescue the game at the death though. Pushing forward, Johnson won a corner. Larin jossled with Jones, getting free. The No. 9 volleyed it just under the bar to take the lead, 2-1.
2-1 | #ORLvLA
— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) April 15, 2017
The Galaxy pushed forward to re-tie it, but could not. The match ended 2-1.
Orlando City is for real. They had one of the worst home records in their first two years in MLS. Now they’re 4-0 at their home. If they keep this up, they’ll be in position to make the playoffs. Rivas had possibly his best game since coming to MLS. Johnson continues to step up as Captain. If Larin keeps scoring like this, it will be hard for them to say no when Europe comes calling with big money.
This is a gut-punch for a Galaxy team that was on the brink of getting a last minute point. Alessandrini continues to be the man. Dos Santos and Zardes both improved from last week’s game. Still, they’re lacking a difference maker off the bench. Joao Pedro and Jones are still having issues with roles and assignments in the middle.