Orlando rains on New York City FC: Last minute goal leads to disappointing loss

Aug 28, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA;  Orlando City forward Ercan Kara (9) and New York City FC
Aug 28, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA; Orlando City forward Ercan Kara (9) and New York City FC / Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday, New York City FC traveled down to the Sunshine State to take on Orlando City SC.  Prior to the match, the Lions led the Pigeons with eight wins, but the Bronx side has had the edge as of late, for in the last 11 fixtures, the team has won five times, and only lost once.

Meanwhile, NYCFC is fighting to climb back into second place in the Eastern Conference.  Regardless of the result in Orlando, the team would remain in third place.  Still, the three points would be helpful with climbing the table down the road, and it was vital to grab another road win with the season winding down.

Alas, despite Florida’s namesake, the game was anything but sunny, both with the score and the weather.  The Pigeons fell 2-1 after a last-second goal in second half stoppage time saw Orlando take all three points. For the most part it was a solid defensive performance, but mistakes and poor choices led to the loss.

Before the weather turned, a defensive error once again led to the opening goal for the opposing side.  Justin Haak completely missed a tackle, which gave the Orlando attack some room in the box.  This resulted with an opportunistic shot from Júnior Urso, and he put the ball into the back of the net.  This was again another defensive mishap, but perhaps not the worst NYCFC has had in the last month or so. 

Poor weather and defensive mistakes lead to another loss for New York City FC

It was not helpful that New York City FC struggled in the first 45 minutes.  As mentioned, the weather was not kind, for it poured extremely hard for most of the first half.  The pitch quickly became waterlogged, making it difficult to conduct passes on the ground.  Players also slipped often too, and this hindered the offensive effort by both sides.  However, Orlando adjusted more easily compared to NYCFC.

For example though, Talles Magno had a chance in the 18th minute.  Maxi Moralez sent a perfect to pass to Sunday’s starting striker, and the ball landed onside with no one in front of him.  But due to the slippery surface, the Brazilian slipped and fell.  This allowed Orlando to clear the ball, and eliminated any chance of a shot.  If Magno did not slip, then he clearly would have had a chance to score. 

While the rain did subside for the second half, that first half was insane, for the pitch was close to unplayable.  The slick surface also increased the chances of injuries, in which Thiago Martins was unfortunately a victim of.  The center-back had to leave mid-way through the first half, and the Pigeons were already without Alexander Callens. 

Despite losing Martins, Tayvon Gray came on and played well in the center-back position, which is not surprising for the versatile defender.  The Homegrown player helped solidify the backline, and was alert and spot on with his defending.  But Maxime Chanot immediately stepped up after the Martins injury, and had multiple clearances and recoveries throughout the game.  The defense was strong, at least until Orlando’s winning goal. 

The Pigeons almost left with a point though, for Moralez scored in the 53rd minute after a good pass from Thiago.  The midfielder tricked Pedro Gallese and sent the goalkeeper to come toward him, but sent the ball into the opposite direction.  Then, as the offensive effort broke down as the second half went on, NYCFC again defended well. 

At least, that was the case until Tesho Akindele scored off a corner kick in the dying seconds of the match.  He was not being marked well, and this allowed the Orlando player to score.  Again, this was another defensive mistake in a mostly strong defensive effort. 

In all honesty, this is starting to get tiresome, for NYCFC is a good team.  But these mistakes are too prevalent, and fans are increasingly beginning to doubt Nick Cushing and his strategies.  With Ronny Deila, the defense did not make poor mistakes in almost every game.  The team was in first place, and it felt like they would keep climbing.

Nevertheless, that was not meant to be.  Thankfully the Pigeons had the strong start to their season, and that is why they are still in third place right now.  But they should have left with a point.  More so, they controlled the first half of the second half, and should have scored a second goal.  At the same time, Orlando limited their shots, for they only had five in the entire match. 

The result was disappointing, especially after the team started the second half strong.  But poor weather in the first half, defensive mistakes, and the inability to take shots are all reasons why New York City FC headed home with no points.  There are only seven more fixtures to be played, and Cushing must fix these errors.