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Orlando City SC 1, DC United 0 | MLS Match Recap

ORLANDO – The third time was definitely the charm for Orlando City SC on Sunday night, as the Lions delivered a genuine statement victory against early-season nemesis D.C. United to put themselves firmly in the playoff picture in their debut season.

Brazilian star Kaká bagged the only goal of the game – on a rebound from his first-half penalty kick – and the Lions erased the memory of two one-goal defeats at the hands of United earlier this season.

The win extended Orlando’s unbeaten run to five games and lifted them to third place in the East – dizzying heights compared to just four weeks ago when they were languishing in eighth and still looking for their first home win of the campaign.

The Lions have now beaten LA, Chicago and United during their five game unbeaten run, establishing some real momentum as they move toward the halfway point of their inaugural season.  

United, meanwhile, remain atop the Eastern Conference despite their losing their second consecutive match. They looked lethargic for long periods in the steamy Citrus Bowl – two hydration breaks, one in each half, were called due to the heat – and lacked any real cutting edge up front, with Fabian Espindola and Jairo Arrieta forced to live off scraps.

The pivotal moment arrived in the 28th minute, when Orlando striker Pedro Ribeiro picked the ball up on the penalty spot and turned quickly to fire a low shot that D.C. goalkeeper Bill Hamid did remarkably well to block. The United defense couldn’t handle the rebound however, with Taylor Kemp barging into Ribeiro near the right edge of the area, prompting referee Jose Carlos Rivero to point to the spot.

Hamid blocked Kaká’s penalty, diving to his right to keep out the Brazilian’s spot kick. He couldn’t do anything about the Designated Player’s follow-up effort, watching helplessly as Kaká headed the rebound into an empty net.

Neither side produced much in the second half, with D.C. limited to a few half chances in their push for an equalizer. Their best chance came late on, with substitute forward Conor Doyle curling a 20-yarder just past the left post inside the final 10 minutes.

Orlando now face a big US Open Cup challenge at the USL’s Charleston Battery on Wednesday and get back to league action at Montreal on Saturday. D.C. will travel to take on the USL’s Pittsburgh Riverhounds in USOC action on Wednesday before returning home on Sunday for an Eastern Conference battle with New England. 

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