Orlando City SC vs. NYCFC: As it Happened

Read here as I document my experience watching NYCFC’s inaugural game.

4:58 PM: First remarks. Just watched a splendid interview with David Villa about what being the club’s first player means to him.

4:59:

First lineup for City. I was 9/11 in my match preview – surprising Mendoza and Calle aren’t starting. Hernandez, Ballouchy starting instead. Both spend time with Jason Kreis at Real Salt Lake. Sense of familiarity there.

Interesting how Mendoza doesn’t even make the squad either. Only one defender on the bench? Kwame Watson-Siriboe. I’m excited to see who Kreis will put into the game late. my best bets are Velasquez, Calle, and Kwadwo Poku. The latter, in particular, excites me the most. People comparing him to Yaya Tour’e. Probably premature/overstated but Poku could be an exciting player. Good drive, pace coming from the midfield.

5:03: Teams in the tunnel. City wearing their home sky blue kits, Orlando in their home purple.

Villa and Kaka share an embrace. Immediately, two of the top five players in the MLS. Both World Cup Winners. Both have won numerous domestic awards. People don’t realize how young Kaka is, either. Only 32. Still has a solid five years of dominance ahead of him.

5:05: Teams on the field. Exciting stuff. Majestic atmosphere, great on-field set-up by Orlando.

5:09: Teams exchanging handshakes. 62,000 in the stands. Kaka and Villa, the two captains.

‘1: NYCFC kick off to get each club’s histories underway. Villa and Mix Diskerud get us started. Wingert concedes a free kick. Lets see what Kaka can do.

‘2: Good delivery, headed wide of Saunders’ net. Goal kick. Rivas with good speed over the top, forcing a throw.

‘3: Grabavoy draws a foul. Diskerud involved early. City have been operating from the left flank thus far.

‘4: Kaka with a wonderful run, but Rivas offside. City have had good spells of possession, but Orlando look very dangerous on the counter. Kaka waltzed through the defense a little too easily.

‘7: Still relatively even, both sides just settling in. Orlando have had two chances, City haven’t really had any.

‘9: Close!! Adam Nemec heads wide after a brilliant spell of possession. Josh Williams with an absolute peach of a ball over the top, but Nemec couldn’t get his header on target.

’10: Scramble in the box, Saunders out to claim it. Still scoreless after 10 minutes. Orlando have had more chances, but City still with the best one, Nemec’s header.

’11: Hectic play. Poor clearance from Orlando City, Mix and Villa nearly connected. Kaka went forward with a head of steam, but was denied.

’12: Kaka slides a shot wide to the right of Saunders net from outside the box.

’14: Saunders hits his head on the post after colliding with Hines. Getting medical attention. Saunders needed to adjust midair, and Hines accidentally forced Saunder’s head into the post.

’16:

’17: Saunders, it appears, is staying in for the moment. So far, very close game. Hasn’t been very free flowing, neither team has been able to sustain much possession. Nerves definitely playing a factor. Saunders head injury is visible.

’18: Saunders races out to the edge of the 18 to snag a loose ball. Looks good for someone who just smacked his head on the post.

’19: Rivas offside, but boy did he have space. If he times his run a half second later, its 1 v. 1 with the keeper. NYCFC defense looking fragile and unorganized. Orlando’s, by comparison, hasn’t been tested as much, but is showing more composure. Individual mistakes have been the story for them. Haven’t been tested much.

’21: Bounced ball finds the hands of Ricketts. Has to be the first or second time Orlando’s keeper has touched the ball.

’23. Grabavoy caught in possession, Orlando break, Brek Shea’s cross deflected for a corner. Left back Jeb Brovsky caught too high up the field.

’24: Corner at the near post, dispatched by Nemec.

’25: Good move from Nemec, Villa, and Grabavoy, but to no avail. Villa has been very, very quiet thus far. Kaka shoots right at Saunders on the other end.

Diskerud has been playing well so far:

’28: Rivas shot deflected for a corner. Despite the star power of Kaka and Villa, it’s been Rivas and Diskerud who have looked the most dangerous offensively for each side. Brek Shea goes down in the box, gets a yellow card. Jacobson not even close to fouling him.

’32: Villa’s shot blocked, Molino hits it up to Rivas who is offside. It’s his third offside of the first half.

Crowd has been lively this game. The on-field product hasn’t been as enthralling as they would’ve hoped, but good energy regardless.

’34: Jacobson pulls down Kaka after the Brazilian pulls a brilliant turn. Free kick to Orlando. Kaka hits it into the wall from 35 yards out, and Orlando reset.

’37: Lovely ball from Brek Shea on the left hand side, just a little to far ahead of Kaka. Saunders slides in to claim it.

’38: It’ll be interesting to see what subs Kreis will make as the game progresses. Mullins, Poku, and Velasquez would be my best bet, for Nemec, Jacobson, and Ballouchy.

’39: WHAT A SAVE!!! Kaka thumps it right at Saunders, who makes a great reaction save to push it out of harms way. Great first time hit from the Brazilian. 

’40: This game has shifted, momentum wise, towards Orlando. They continue to look dangerous going forward. NYCFC lack impetus in their forward movements. Only a matter of time before the defense finally concedes.

’41: Molino gets a yellow card for embellishing too much. He joins Shea in the referees book, much to the dismay of Adrian Heath. Looked like Brovsky brought him down.

’42: Ballouchy booked for a rash challenge.

’43: Jacobson blasts a shot wide. One of the few “exciting” offensive moments for NYCFC. It’s been that kind of half for them offensively.

’44: Still waiting for Villa to make an impact. He’s been disappointing, but to his credit, he’s lacked service. Orlando pressing high up the field, City haven’t had time to settle offensively. Diskerud has been involved in the middle of the park, but hasn’t made any real meaningful strides toward the final third.

’45: Kaka hits a free kick wide.

Three minutes of stoppage time, courtesy of Josh Saunders and the posts collision.

’46: Lovely ball to Molino on the flank, but his cross falls short.

’47: Taylor Twellman, the color commentator for ESPN, makes a great point. NYCFC’s diamond is too narrow. Grabavoy and Ballouchy keep inverting, causing Orlando to cramp the middle and not leave any space for Diskerud to operate. As a result, no service for Villa and Nemec. Conversely, Shea and Molino have given width to the Orlando attack.

’48: Rivas with a thunderbolt that is over Saunders’ net. Good setup from Kaka.

’48: Orlando’s crowd cheering “I can’t hear a f**king thing” about NYCFC fans. Yikes.

’49: Last minute of stoppage time, Kaka with a corner that is blown off for a foul on Shea.

Half-time at the Citrus Bowl, the score is level at 0. 7/8 MLS games this season have been scoreless at the break. 

Orlando have had the better half. There defense hasn’t been tested at all, save for Nemec’s header which went over the bar. Kaka with the best chance of the half, a screamer that was well parried by Saunders.

NYCFC have lacked width in their attack, which has allowed Orlando to stifle playmakers like Mix and David Villa.

Rivas has looked dangerous, but has been caught offside three times. Other than Kaka, American international Brek Shea has been the catalyst for Orlando. He’s been involved frequently from left back.

Expect Kreis to throw on a winger in the second half to add some dynamism to NYCFC’s attack. Velasquez the most likely. Personally, I’d love to see Poku go on and and attack Orlando’s defense. That could be risky, however, because if he gets caught out, Kaka will be up against an exposed back four.

First Half Stats:

Orlando with 4 more shots, one more shot on target. NYCFC with no shots on target, no corners. Donovan Ricketts has made 0 saves. The only shot on target was Kaka’s screamer, the only save was Saunders on that same shot.

’46: Second half underway in Orlando. Kreis saying David Villa needs to get into more space if he wants more touches.

’46: Yet another offside on Rivas. 4 offsides for Orlando, all of them against their pacey forward.

’47: Chance! Kaka glides through the defense and hits it across the face of goal. Hernandez out for a corner, which is punched away by Saunders. Orlando looking more and more dangerous.

’48: Villa with a rare touch, but surrounded by three defenders, and looses it quickly.

’48: Another chance! Molino shoots and Saunders fingertips denies him. Wonderful finesse strike. 

’49: What a start to the half. Rivas in at goal offside, Kaka forcing a corner, Molino with what has been the best chance of the game. New York City on the back foot completely.

’50: CHANCE FOR NYCFC! Williams another brilliant cross, and it skips a few feet in front of Villa. Wonderful run from Villa, the cross just too far in front of him.

’51: Nemec loses it in front of the box. Nearly a fatal giveaway for Orlando. NYCFC starting to settle in after a poor start to the half.

’52: Diskerud with a great ball over the top for Villa, who is getting more and more involved.

Brovsky finds Nemec, who tries to slide it through to Villa, but his pass out of the Spaniard’s reach.

’53: Villa wiggles into the box, but is dispossessed by two defenders.

’54: Yellow for center back Jason Hernandez. Hines heads wide of the net. Goal kick NYCFC.

’55: Neither team has used a substitute. Kreis’s side finally starting to push forward, however.

’56: Adrian Healey’s pronunciation of Adam Sandler just another component of a thrilling second half.

’57: Great cross from Shea, intended for Molino. Dealt with by NYCFC.

’58: Khiry Shelton appears to be warming up. Shelton scored the equalizing goal for NYCFC in their preseason tilt with Orlando. His speed will stretch the field, and allow Villa more space, says Twellman. Nemec is my guess as to who he’ll replace.

’60: Foul on NYCFC. Brovsky brings Higuita down right on the edge of the box. Danger for NYCFC.

’61: Rivas or Kaka will take it. Righty and lefty option.

’61: Wide! Rivas takes after Kaka tapped it for him. Wonderful, sizzling hit, but Saunders would have saved had it been on target.

’62: Khiry Shelton on for NYCFC. Ballouchy comes off.

’63: Rivas offside for the 5th time. Saunders head bleeding now after another collision. He’s had a very busy day.

’65: Saunders getting treatment for blood. Fitzgerald warming up for the second time.

’68: CHANCE!!!!! KHIRY SHELTON! The rookie shoots inches wide off a wonderful buildup. Diskerud started the counter by finding Villa, who laid it off brilliantly to his right. 

’69: ANOTHER CHANCE! Adam Nemec had time and space in the box after a nice feed from Shelton, but he shoots it over the net.

’70: Khiry Shelton has changed this game. The second overall pick has added dynamism to NYCFC’s attack, and has been involved in two chances.

’72: Orlando have been probing since Nemec’s chance, but the defense has held firm.

’73: Villa in the box but unable to take a good touch.

’74: A goal is coming. The defenses are looking more and more exposed, and Shelton’s fresh legs have opened the game up. Who will actually score the goal is anyones guess. The whole game would suggest Orlando. Recent play suggests NYCFC.

’75: Chance! Diskerud with a lovely through ball to Shelton, but Shea does very well to make the tackle. First corner of the match for City. Shelton has been outsanding

’76: GOAL!!!!!!!! MIX DISKERUD CURLS IT IN AND NYCFC HAVE TAKEN THE LEAD AT ORLANDO!

The goal was coming. Villa on the edge of the box, hits it towards the middle. Diskerud took a touch, and curled it past Ricketts. First shot on target, first goal. Wow.

’78: Foul! It’s a yellow for Higuita for embellishment, after Brovsky stuck his foot out. No penalty. Another questionable call. Higuita went down easily, but Brovsky took a risk by going to ground.

’80: 10 minutes left. 1/6 possible subs has been made. That sub, Shelton, changed the game immediately.

Orlando finally make a sub. Brian Rochez on for Neal. Rochez, a Honduras international, is Orlando’s second DP, after Kaka.

’81: Corner from Kaka, punched away by Saunders.

’82: How NYCFC are ahead is astounding. Diskerud and Saunders have been brilliant. Without Diskerud’s creativity and Saunders shot-stopping, Orlando could be up 2 or 3 nil.

’83: RED CARD, ORLANDO CITY! Collin, the MLS All-Star, sent off for a rash challenge on David Villa.  Shelton with a brilliant run through the defense, and Villa went down. Free kick, NYCFC.

So down a goal and down to ten men. Not a good start to MLS life thus far for Orlando.

’85: CHANCE! Villa’s free kick skips just wide. Ricketts may have been beaten. 

’87: Substitute for NYCFC. Off comes Diskerud, the goal scorer, and on comes winger Sebastian Velasquez, who was born in Medellin, for all my Entourage fans out there.

’88: Shea draws a foul on Williams. Chance for Kaka to whip in a cross.

’89: Brek Shea offside on the free kick.

’90: Javier Calle has come on for Adam Nemec. Two Colombian subs for NYCFC.

’90: Free kick for Orlando, committed by Grabavoy. Kaka and Shea on to it. Another lefty-righty duo. Dangerous.

4 minutes of stoppage time…

’91: GOAL ORLANDO CITY! KAKA EQUALIZES OFF THE FREE KICK!

The free kick takes a poor deflection for NYCFC, off Brovsky, and Saunders caught in no mans land. Down a goal, down a man, and Kaka has equalized! All to play for with three minutes left.

’93: St. Ledger on for Rivas, who was lively. He was also caught offside 5 times. St. Ledger is an Irish center back. Orlando appear to be playing for the draw now.

’94: Kaka almost wins a corner, but Williams clears. Orlando have been the ones on the attack following their equalizer.

’95: Full time. Stalemate at the Citrus Bowl.

Mix Diskerud scored the go-ahead goal in the 76th minute, but Kaka’s stoppage time equalizer salvages a point for the hosts.

Exciting game to say the least. The second half more than made up for a dry first half.

Some thoughts:

Saunders looked composed in goal. For now, he’s the undisputed number one.

The defense was decent. They didnt concede from open play, but Brovsky’s night wasn’t very good. Molino attacked him all night long, and he was the one who deflected Kaka’s goal in. Hernandez, in particular, was strong.

Jacobson did OK holding off Kaka. Diskerud was the maestro in the midfield, and he created a lot of chances. Obviously his goal was the moment of the game for NYCFC.

Nemec scuffed two big chances. Don’t be surprised if he gets dropped for the next match, with Shelton/Mullins a potential replacement.

Ballouchy and Grabavoy could have been better. Didnt see much from either of them. Khiry Shelton will undoubtably start over one of them next match.

Villa wasn’t very involved for most of the game, but he did assist on Diskerud’s goal.

Next match is next week against New England Revolution; the home opener against the reigning Eastern Conference champions.

Until then, thanks for tuning in.

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