CHESTER, Pa. — After scoring his first MLS goal last week and capping it with an epic knee slide celebration, Chris Mueller got a few playful ribs from his Orlando City SC teammates with some calling him “Cash Mueller.”
On Friday night at Talen Energy Stadium, the Lions' red-hot rookie embraced the nickname, scoring his second goal in as many games before first mimicking Cristiano Ronaldo’s celebration followed by a “Pay me” gesture to the crowd.
“It’s an emotional celebration,” Mueller told MLSsoccer.com after his goal helped lift Orlando to a 2-0 road win over the Philadelphia Union. “Last week, I did the knee slide. It’s kinda what I just feel in the moment. Maybe I’ll find something to do every game. I don’t know, we’ll see.”
Celebrations or not, the Lions will probably just want him to keep finding the back of the net and gaining confidence. The 21-year-old forward certainly showed impressive poise Friday, making a marauding run up the middle of the field and slicing through an equally young Union backline before firing a shot past goalkeeper Andre Blake.
Afterwards, Orlando head coach Jason Kreis called the rookie’s hot streak “fantastic” and a great “reward” for someone who worked very hard after getting picked sixth in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft.
“He scored that goal through sheer will and a never-say-die attitude,” Kreis said. “He kept fighting for it and ended up in the right spot.”
Dom Dwyer scored the team’s first goal in the 38th minute by using his back to play down a Sacha Kljestan chip, saying that he “figured if I let it go it was going to run free too much, so I just tried to get a little touch on it.” Seven minutes later, he was equally impressed by his new teammate’s goal.
“You saw it in the preseason — the kid’s a goalscorer,” Dwyer said of Mueller. “He’s hungry, he’s working hard, and he’s getting his rewards. I think he did fantastic tonight and I’m very proud of him and excited for his potential. I’ll be keeping good tabs on him and pushing him in training.”
But instead of worrying about playing time, Mueller made it a point to learn as much as he could from Dwyer and Kljestan, two players he admired growing up. What kind of advice has he gotten from Dwyer, who now has four goals in the last three games since returning from injury to spur a three-game winning streak?
“Just get in the box and shoot the ball,” Mueller said. “You can get caught up in dribbling and maybe passing in the wrong moments. He’s telling me in moments just to be selfish, get in the box, and get the goal yourself.”
And now, with Mueller adding another element to their revamped attack, the Lions are coming home with another three points after what Kreis called the team’s most “complete game of the year.”
“This is a big step for the club,” Mueller said. “Getting three points on the road was huge and getting on a three-game win streak helps a lot going into the next few games. It proves a lot and shows what we’re really capable of.”