In the first MLS-Liga MX showdown of many in 2023, Orlando City SC and Tigres UANL played to a 0-0 draw in a pulsating Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 encounter at Estadio Universitario Tuesday night.
The return leg will be played at Orlando City’s Exploria Stadium on March 14.
Tigres, the 2020 CCL winners over LAFC, expectedly played on the front foot with the ageless Andre-Pierre Gignac the danger man so often for the hosts.
Tempers flared in first-half stoppage time when Gignac was shown a straight red card from referee Mario Escobar after shoving Orlando defender Rodrigo Schlegel after the two were tangled inside the Lions’ box.
But the red card was waved off, replaced by a yellow card, following a first-ever Video Review in CCL action.
Perhaps energized by a second life, Gignac pressured Orlando goalkeeper Pedro Gallese into a diving stop in the 53rd minute. Two minutes later, Gallese had to parry a near Olimpico by Fernando Gorriarán off the crossbar away and then stretched out to deny a downward header by Samir.
Martin Ojeda had Orlando’s best scoring chance in the second half, as a left-footed shot from just outside the box prompted a diving save from Tigres goalkeeper Nahuel Guzman in the 58th minute.
Two minutes from full time, Guido Pizarro had Gallese beat, but he headed off the far post following a Tigres corner kick.
- THE BIG PICTURE: This was just the appetizer for what will be a whole lot of MLS-Liga MX showdowns in 2023, with the expanded Leagues Cup this summer following likely additional CCL encounters. And while there were no goals, there was plenty of drama between Orlando City and Tigres. It’s now all to play for back at Exploria Stadium where the Lions will be buoyed by their home crowd, but still wary of conceding.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Andre-Pierre Gignac was seemingly at the center of all the attention, both for his chances to score and this moment where his red card was rescinded.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: When MLS teams play in Mexico, the expectation is having to absorb waves of pressure from the hosts. That was the case for Orlando at Estadio Universitario and the Lions’ world-class goalkeeper Pedro Gallese was not only up for the task, but the Peruvian international was outstanding.