Orlando City SC 2, New York City FC 1 | MLS Match Recap
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Cyle Larin struck twice in a scintillating second half to lead an Orlando City comeback win that keeps their 2015 Audi MLS Cup Playoff hopes alive for at least another day.
The Lions laid siege to the New York City goal for long periods but fell behind to an unlikely Kwame Watson-Siriboe strike on the stroke of halftime, and they held out for a 2-1 win at the Citrus Bowl.
Larin took his MLS rookie goalscoring record to 16 with a 62nd-minute header from a superb Corey Ashe cross and doubled his tally on the night eight minutes later as a quick break saw him tee up Adrian Winter for a shot that Josh Saunders saved only for Winter to recover and cross for an unmarked Larin to tap home.
Then came the moment that would have made it 3-1 – and secured Larin’s second successive hat-trick against New York City and his third against both Big Apple teams – as the livewire Carlos Rivas crossed low to the far post and the big striker appeared to touch the ball in off NYCFC defender Jefferson Mena, who appeared to keep the ball from fully going into the goal by the slimmest of margins.
In the end, it wasn’t critical to the outcome, but there were some nervous moments for the home team as goalkeeper Tally Hall went down with a right knee injury six minutes from the end and needed to be replaced by Josh Ford.
In front of another big, frenzied crowd, the home team failed to find a way past Saunders in the first 45 minutes and paid the ultimate price to Watson-Siriboe deep in first-half stoppage time, his first MLS goal in seven seasons.
But there was very little sign of the visitors in attack in the first period, especially after Ned Grabavoy limped off in the 22nd minute.
The Lions seemingly attacked at will down both flanks, getting closer and closer with every assault as Rivas repeatedly sent in dangerous crosses from the left and Ashe and Winter marauded down the right.
Just before the break, Rivas unfurled a beautiful deep cross from the left that saw Larin in the clear with a free header, but Saunders came up big at the near post with the diving save. Rivas then got free again only to see his low cross go right through the six-yard box untouched.
That set the scene for Siriboe-Watson at a corner as the first half ticked past the 47th minute. Mix Diskerud was first to the ball but, although his shot was blocked, the rebound fell straight to the big defender, who lashed it high into the net from 14 yards.
The Lions wouldn’t be denied, though, and finally broke through with an equalizer as Ashe got free on the right and found the perfect cross for Larin to convert with a deft flicked header inside the far post after 62 minutes to set the stage for the dramatic final 20 minutes.
The crowd of 43,179 was Orlando’s second biggest of the season, behind only their opening home fixture, also against New York, meaning a whopping 105,689 had attended the two games.
The home team honored 43 members of their new Alumni Association at halftime in a special ceremony to mark previous players of the original 1984 Orlando Lions, the Orlando Sundogs and Orlando’s 2011-14 USL teams.
Orlando will now wrap up their season on the road at Philadelphia Union on October 25 while New York finish off at home to New England the same day.