Joao Moutinho has "extra special feeling" after scoring against ex-team LAFC

Joao Moutinho - Orlando City - July 31, 2020

Joao Moutinho, two-and-a-half years ago, stood on the MLS SuperDraft stage as LAFC’s No. 1 overall pick, then a highly-rated prospect out of Akron.

At the MLS is Back Tournament quarterfinals, the Portuguese left back scored a 90th-minute equalizer for Orlando City against this former team, forcing penalty kicks after the 1-1 draw. He also scored the Lions’ third penalty in the 5-4 shootout, capping one of his best nights yet as a professional.

He conceded that the goal was “extra special,” despite the subdued celebration, as Orlando continue their remarkable run into the semifinals.

“I still have a lot of friends and a lot of people that I respect back there at LAFC,” said Moutinho, who was traded to Orlando in December 2018. “I spent a good year there so I made some friendships and yeah, I guess it might have that extra special feeling. But honestly I just feel so happy that I was able to help the team in the situation that we needed, and happy I got the goal and that we won penalties."

Moutinho's equalizer vs. LAFC:

It was only the second career MLS goal for Moutinho, who has laid claim to the starting left back role under head coach Oscar Pareja, who took over Orlando this past offseason. With Ruan on the right and the 22-year-old on the opposite flank, the speedy, attack-minded defenders largely held LAFC wingers Diego Rossi and Brian Rodriguez in check.

Moutinho knew how to punish his old team, too. He rose highest on the back post to meet Nani’s corner kick, finding a soft spot to stun the defending Supporters’ Shield champions. 

“We knew that they left big windows and a lot of space on defending set pieces, and I was in charge of going to the back post on our attacking set pieces, corners and free kicks,” Moutinho said. “So I knew I had some space there.”

Orlando are now 4W-0L-1D at the MLS is Back Tournament and two wins away from raising their first trophy as an MLS club. The momentum wasn’t lost on Moutinho, an unlikely hero of LAFC’s demise.

“Right now we want to take it to the final,” Moutinho said.