Mauricio Pereyra's first goal of the season was enough to see Orlando City SC to a 1-0 victory on Sunday evening at Audi Field against a D.C. United team playing its third match in nine days.
HIGHLIGHTS: D.C. United vs. Orlando City SC | May 16, 2021
The home side had a 13-6 edge in shots and also shaded the expected goals metrics — paltry as they were — but some of that owed to the early nature of Pereyra's goal.
Scored on seven minutes on an assist from Tesho Akindele, after a probing ball from Kyle Smith, it allowed the Lions to sit and absorb pressure for most of the evening.
There were times in the first half when it seemed an equalizer may come, specifically down the left through Edison Flores, Paul Arriola and Moses Nyeman.
But United's bluster outlasted its bite in the second half. The hosts created little in the way of clear chances beyond the hour mark.
- 7' - ORL - Mauricio Pereyra | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: While it didn't result in points, this will be the kind of performance that gives D.C. confidence it can be in games with the best teams in the Eastern Conference. In five games against conference opposition, The Black-and-Red have conceded multiple goals only once — and that was thanks to two own-goals from center backs in a 3-1 away loss to Columbus in Week 4.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: After scoring, Pereyra paid an emotional tribute to Santiago Garcia, whom he played with as both Uruguayans began their full professional careers with Nacional in Montevideo more than a decade ago. Garcia — who played most recently with Godoy Cruz in Argentina — died by suicide in early February. Pereyra celebrated his strike by pulling up his jersey to reveal a photo of his friend and former teammate, kissing the image in memoriam.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Kyle Smith. His exceptional ball deserved an assist, and he led Orlando with 18 duels (winning 12) and four tackles on a night that was made for defenders.
- DC: Sunday, May 23 vs. Philadelphia Union (7 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in the US, DAZN in Canada)
- ORL: Saturday, May 22 vs. Toronto FC (7 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in the US, DAZN in Canada)