In a meeting of two of the top strikers in Major League Soccer, it was a backup defensive midfielder who made the difference on the scoresheet.
Orlando City SC edged the New York Red Bulls 1-0 on Sunday as Servando Carrasco headed home a well-worked corner kick routine by the Lions – his first MLS goal in open play – to extend City's perfect record at their brand-new stadium to 3-0.
Both Cyle Larin and Bradley Wright-Phillips carved out several good looks at goal, but it was Carrasco – coming off the bench in relief of the injured Antonio Nocerino 17 minutes after kickoff – who decided the vibrant, hard-fought Eastern Conference clash.
- 34' – ORL – Servando Carrasco Watch
- RED BULLS, ICE COLD: After winning their first two games of the season, New York are now 0-3-1 in their last four, a stretch in which they've scored just twice. The usually prolific BWP has epitomized the struggles. In Orlando he worked as hard as ever, taking five shots (four of them on target) and seeing a goal waved off by a (seemingly correct) offside call. It's unclear just what will end this slump.
Own Goal still tied w BWP for #RBNY goal lead through 7 gms. Team 2-4-1 on yr with total 5 goals (3 from RB players). 11 GA, shutout 3 times— Dave Martinez (@DaveMartinezNY) April 9, 2017
- FEROCIOUS FELINES: Orlando have scored just four goals in their first four games, but it's been enough to build a 3-1 record. Why? The Lions have shown a sterner spine than in past seasons, showing grit and resilience even when the quality of their soccer has slipped. Center back Jonathan Spector has epitomized this new identity, making a series of key interventions to stymie RBNY, including five clearances in his own penalty box.
- GO LONG: OCSC bypassed the fearsome Red Bulls press by playing a highly direct style intended to reduce exposure to mistakes and turnovers in their own end. It contributed to a grisly 61 percent passing completion percentage, but thanks to Carrasco's early goal, they didn't have to take many unnecessary risks. And had Larin finished off a 1-on-1 with Luis Robles in the 67th minute, they would have had a comfortable home stretch.