Orlando City SC savor latest rivalry triumph over Inter Miami CF: "It gets magnified against Miami"

It may be the first year of its MLS existence, but the in-state rivalry between Orlando City SC and Inter Miami CF already has the feel of a derby that's been around for years.

That was on full display in the Week 11 bout between the sides at Exploria Stadium, which saw the Lions prevail 2-1 in a contest that was physical and chippy throughout and featured a lively second half that saw Inter Miami win a look at an equalizing penalty kick and a red card, only to see it all wiped off the board for an offside on the play.

"That's the nature of a rivalry match," Orlando City winger Chris Mueller said after the game. "There's always a little bit of an extra edge to the game. There's a lot of just things after the play, that's just the way it is in derby games, especially one like this, where it's starting to build and you could see the heat of the game. I think it's good though, it's fun. It makes for a good match and a lot of intensity, a lot of energy between the two teams. So, I think it's great for everybody."

The talk after the match centered around that 73rd-minute penalty kick that was originally awarded by referee Ismail Elfath. Orlando's Rodrigo Schlegel was called for fouling Julian Carranza in the Orlando box following Video Review, and he was also sent off for his second yellow. The call sent Orlando City players into a frenzy as they pleaded with Elfath, only for the referee to reverse the call just seconds later as Carranza was deemed offside.

Watch: Miami penalty call overturned

The chaotic sequence turned up the emotions on the field even further, and Mueller said he was most pleased with how his team responded in seeing out the victory -- something he acknowledged Orlando City teams of the past have had trouble doing.

"Obviously that's a moment of momentum change in the game, where you think you have a penalty and we think we're giving up a penalty and the emotion kind of riles up and the momentum almost shifts their way," Mueller said. "And then they replay it and obviously the momentum came back our way and at that point we know that we can't let go of those three points. We just got a break in what ended up turning our way, thankfully.

"Hats off to the team, we were able to bunker in and keep those three points, sometimes that's what you have to do and that's how we have to grind out results. We have to be able to do what's necessary at the right times in order to win games. It's something we weren't able to do so well in the past. We always were letting points slip and we even let one go last week. We've learned, we move forward and we got the three points tonight."

On the Miami side, the emotion was simply frustration at seeing their chance at both the equalizing PK and playing up a man for the final 17 minutes taken away.

"That's the second time it's happened to this team where we have a chance to score or we scored but it's reversed and they had a red card," said Miami goalscorer Brek Shea. "It's frustrating for players and the team to think you're going to have a PK and a red card for the other team and have a chance to go ahead and win and it's turned around, and it takes 15 minutes to do that. We're just standing there waiting, we don't know what's going on. It's frustrating."

Watch: Orlando City's game-winner

In the end, it's another three points for the Lions in what still has the feel of their breakout MLS campaign in their sixth season in the league. While getting a win over a rival always carries extra importance, head coach Oscar Pareja said he was pleased to see how the players responded to their disappointing 1-1 draw against Atlanta United last Saturday that saw them yield an equalizer in second-half stoppage time.

"I want to dedicate this to the fans because we know how happy they are. It's a very important three points [on the table], but also it gets magnified against Miami," Pareja said. "Last game against Atlanta, I promised myself not to talk much about that game because of the pain it produced -- just giving up two points at the last minute, especially seeing how the boys played during the game. But it just tells us that this is an ongoing process, that it's non-stop competition, that you have to refocus immediately.

"The commitment that the boys have during the week to bounce back to a victory against a tough rival, who was coming off a victory too and has been evolving, it was very high. That commitment was high. I saw them in the locker room talking about that all the time and that's what I'm very happy for, the players. They deserve what is happening here, for them and Orlando, and I know tomorrow they will put their boots on again and prepare for the next one against Chicago." 


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