Lions Win: Orlando City Win Much Needed Game Against Slumping Colorado Rapids

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ORLANDO, FL - APRIL 06: Orlando City forward Nani (17) celebrates after scoring his first goal with Orlando City during the soccer match between the Colorado Rapids and the Orlando City Lions on April 6, 2019, at Orlando City Stadium in Orlando FL. (Photo by Joe Petro/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

ORLANDO, Fla. (April 6, 2019) – Head Coach James O’Connor got just what the doctor ordered on Saturday night: An Orlando City SC win. In a back-and-forth affair with Colorado Rapids, the Lions overcame two deficits to win in the final minutes on a Nani PK.

Lions Win: Orlando City Win Much Needed Game Against Slumping Colorado Rapids

The Rapids had the better of the play in the opening 20 minutes. Manager Anthony Hudson deployed his team in a 4-2-3-1. The formation appeared to yield results. Two committed holding defenders made it difficult for Orlando to attack up the middle. The wingers got forward to support Kei Kamara on second balls.

This ultimately put the Pids up 1-0 in the 9th minute. Dillon Serna got forward and set a cross to the front of goal. Kamara, Carlos Ascues, and Lamine Sané all challenged for it. The ball deflected and fell to Kamara who scores.

Orlando founds success on the counter attack. They started winning battles on the wing 20 minutes in, taking the opportunities to get forward and get the ball to later arriving teammates. Nani tied the game up in the 31st minute. Ruan nutmegged Serna just outside the box and sent the ball across goal to João Moutinho. Moutinho sent the ball back towards goal and Nani rose up and headed it to score. He was unchallenged in the air.

Tesho Akindele made it 3-1 just two minutes later. Ruan started a break off a Rapids corner. He found Dom Dwyer in the box. Dwyer’s shot was paired away by goalkeeper Tim Howard, but the rebound fell to Akindele (with two other Lions in the area) and he scored easily.

The half ended 2-1 with an extended delay for lighting in the area. The half time ended up lasting in excess of one hour and fourteen minutes.

The Rapids found new life in the second half, giving Orlando a taste of their own medicine. Kellyn Acosta found Cole Bassett on the run with Nicolas Mezquida and Kamara running towards goal. Bassett sent the ball to the middle of the box, perfectly timed with Mezquida’s run, who headed it home for his first ever Rapids goal. The scoreboard read 2-2.

Bassett found the go-ahead goal 10 minutes later. After collecting the ball from Benny Feilhaber, the 17-year-old cut inside and curled the ball around Rowe and inside the far post.

Orlando clapped back in the 81st minute. Just moments after coming on, substitute Chris Mueller scored from inside the six yard box after the ball pinged around in the box. The home side found a winner in the 87th minute. Substitute Axel Sjoberg was called for a handball on a cross. Nani stepped up to take it and scored. The match ended 4-3.

Three Takeaways:

Slumping teams: This game was a match up between two teams who were off to a slow start in 2019. The Rapids were near the bottom of the table in the Western Conference. Orlando had just one win and were on a poor run of form at home. Somebody was going to get a feel good result and it was Orlando who battled back twice to take all three points. This has to galvanize the club.

Counter attacks rule: Chance creation in this game came from counter attacks in this game. Both teams waited for the opponent to over-commit offensively, then used their wide players to get into space and up field quickly. One could argue that transition play led to at least five of the seven goals scored.

Mother Nature: It rained for almost the entire game on Saturday night. The field appeared to hold up well but the rain delay complicated the game significantly.

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