FRISCO, Texas — Southeast rivals Orlando City SC and Atlanta United are no strangers to hard-fought battles and history repeated itself at the Toyota Soccer Center in Frisco as the Lions came out on top 5-4 in a penalty kick shootout after 50 minutes of goalless play to open the 2019 Generation adidas Cup.
"It was very important because for us. Atlanta means more than just two points,” Orlando City head coach Ricardo Paez told MLSsoccer.com. "It’s great for the environment of our team for the rest of the week."
Through two 25-minute halves in the tournament-opening match, the Lions held a majority of play taking the game to their southeast counterparts, but were unable to find the breakthrough. Impressive attackers Nico Diaz and Julian Kennedy gave the Atlanta United backline fits throughout the match hitting the crossbar in the first half while forcing towering goalkeeper Josue Hangin into multiple smart saves to keep the score level.
With an extra point and bragging rights on the line in penalty kicks, it was a player with little to do during the 50 minutes of action, Orlando City’s Spanish goalkeeper Javier Otero, who stepped up to stop two Atlanta shots from the spot while Michael Halliday smashed home the decisive PK.
There will be no time to savor the victory, however, with Liga MX side Club Tijuana, who were 2-0 victors over Japanese side Ulsan in their first match, up next on Sunday afternoon.
"Now we’re going to face Tijuana. Last year, we did good because we beat all the MLS teams but we didn’t win our games [against international opponents]. This year, that is our next step.”