After hosting the MLS All-Star Game presented by Target at midweek, Orlando City SC emphasized their hunger to reward their home fans with a run to the MLS Cup Playoffs, and they took a strong first step towards doing so on Saturday night with a 2-0 defeat of FC Dallas.
Tesho Akindele opened the scoring early with a strike against his old team, calmly firing a first-time finish inside the right post after a gorgeous defense-splitting pass from Ruan and muting his celebrations in deference to his FCD past.
As has often been the case in recent weeks, Dallas dominated possession but struggled to convert it into sustained danger in the final third. They drew just three saves out of Brian Rowe despite enjoying some 65% of the ball, though they were denied a penalty kick on a potential handball in the box examined by referee Silviu Petrescu via Video Review in the second half.
In the late going, Sacha Kljestan teed up Carlos Ascues for an injury-time clincher with a clever stepover heel flick, ending the Lions' three-game winless skid as they aim to dash up the Eastern Conference standings in the season's final months.
- THE BIG PICTURE: If Orlando are truly going to mount a postseason push, they needed to win this game, and will probably have to keep improving on their mediocre home record in the weeks to come. Meanwhile, FCD look hapless in front of goal at present, and more of the same could wreck their own title ambitions.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Akindele's finish was clinical, but let's give it up the slashing run and brilliant through ball from Ruan...
- MAN OF THE MATCH: We'll hand it to Akindele, whose early goal set the tone and tilted the field in the Lions' favor.