Orlando City SC 3, Sporting Kansas City 1 | MLS Match Recap
ORLANDO – Sunday was a night of firsts for Orlando City SC as Adrian Winter and Bryan Rochez scored their debut goals for the team, Brek Shea returned to action and the Lions chalked up their first win in seven games to prolong Sporting Kansas City’s drought.
With the game all square at 1-1 after Krisztian Nemeth’s 59th minute strike cancelled out Winter’s early opener, the game turned on a pair of Orlando substitutions as Rochez replaced Cyle Larin and Shea came on to tumultuous cheers to make his first appearance in 11 games.
Shea’s first serious action opened the game up in the 66th minute, as he got clear on the left and exposed a retreating defense with the perfect low cross for Rochez to crash the ball home from six yards.
Just six minutes later it was Rochez winning a loose ball in the Kansas City penalty box and cutting it back for Lewis Neal, who slipped a Winter through to stab a first-time shot past goalkeeper Jon Kempin.
Those two moments of inspiration were enough for Orlando to chalk up only their second win in their last 12 games, helping the Lions keep their faint playoff hopes alive.
The result was Sporting’s fourth loss in their five-game winless streak that has seen the club drop to fifth in the West. Making matters worse for SKC was Dom Dwyer’s late red card; the key forward will now be suspended for at least one match after he was ejected following an altercation with Orlando’s David Mateos.
Winter opened the scoring in just the third minute. The Swiss midfielder was fouled by Soni Mustivar on the right flank, setting up defender Luke Boden for a dangerous set piece. No one tracked Winter’s run to the far post on the set play, with the unmarked summer signing heading Boden’s cross past a helpless Kempin.
It was the first goal by a Lions player in 526 minutes – an Eric Gehrig own goal accounted for their only score in the 1-1 draw with Chicago on August 29 – and certainly took the visiting defense by surprise.
But the visitors weathered the early storm and slowly started to get a foothold in the game with a series of corners, the second of which saw Graham Zusi serve up an inviting cross for Dwyer only for the striker to head inches over.
Nemeth had SKC’s best chance of the first half in the 36th minute as he cut in from the left wing and fired a low drive that flashed just past the post.
Sustained attacks were few and far between, with Sporting running into a purple blanket in the final third of the field and Orlando happy to play on the counter. Orlando did have a big chance in the 50th minute, and it was begging for Larin to break the MLS rookie scoring record. Stuck on 11 goals since Aug. 1, Larin was set clear by Neal for a one-on-one opportunity with Kempin only to side-foot over from 12 yards.
Kempin kept his team in the game with a brilliant reflex save to push a Neal shot over the bar moments later, and the home team were made to pay for not taking their chances in the 59th minute.
Sporting looked like they might push on for a winner, but Heath’s substitutions made a huge difference, with Shea and Rochez combining to give the Lions the much-needed win.
Both sides will be back in action next weekend, with Kansas City returning home to host West rivals FC Dallas on Friday and Orlando hitting the road to take on Chicago at Toyota Park on Saturday night.