A battle between two of the Eastern Conference's top teams went to Orlando City SC, as they defeated the Philadelphia Union 2-1 at Exploria Stadium on Thursday evening.

With the win, Orlando snapped a three-match winless streak to jump two points clear of Philadelphia and Nashville SC for second place in the East. The Union suffered just their second loss in 13 matches across all competitions.

The hosts opened the scoring 10 minutes in when Mauricio Pereyra played a well-timed ball to Benji Michel, who knocked it past Matt Freese as Orlando opened up a 1-0 lead. Moments later, they nearly made it 2-0 after Pereyra was involved in a give-and-go with Andres Perea, though missed to the left side of the net.

Philadelphia continued to press for the equalizer early in the second half as Daniel Gazdag's long attempt sailed just wide of an outstretched Pedro Gallese and out of play. The Hungarian midfielder came up empty on another chance moments later.

But Orlando doubled their lead in the 59th minute. A Nani cross found Perea, whose header beat Freese to make it a 2-0 contest. Nani nearly made it 3-0 in the 64th minute, only for his curling effort to sail over the bar.

Philadelphia clawed one back in the 68th minute through Kacper Przybylko, whose perfectly-timed first touch from an Olivier Mbaizo pass cut the Orlando lead to 2-1. Then in the 78th, Gallese kept out an attempt from Quinn Sullivan to keep Orlando ahead. The Union saw another chance go begging moments later as Sullivan's bid was swallowed up by Gallese.

The Union saw several glowing opportunities go to waste late in stoppage time, first as Gallese denied an attempt by Jack Elliott and then as Kyle Smith got in the way of Sullivan's potential equalizer. But Orlando narrowly held on for the home win.

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Goals

  • 10' – ORL – Benji Michel | WATCH
  • 59' – ORL – Andres Perea | WATCH
  • 68' – PHI – Kacper Przybylko | WATCH

Three Things

  • THE BIG PICTURE: This one turned into a nail-biter in the end, but it’s three points in the bag for Orlando from a pivotal Eastern Conference showdown. Philadelphia, for their part, enjoyed a strong run until Thursday's defeat, but their away form of late remains a missing piece. They've failed to win their last five matches away from Subaru Park (0-2-3).
  • MOMENT OF THE MATCH: With second-half stoppage time dragging on, the Union had one last chance to deny Orlando three points. They’ll be wondering how they didn’t score at the end of a frantic spell in front of the Lions’ net.
  • MAN OF THE MATCH: While Mauricio Pereyra assisted on Orlando’s first goal and helped create their second, Pedro Gallese deserves a nod for his heroics as the match hit its latter stages. He finished with five saves to help his team withstand a late Philadelphia charge.

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