Jacksonville Sports Day

MLS: Orlando City Steals Stoppage-Time Equalizer On Opening Day

ORLANDO, Fla.  – In the first match of its fourth Major League Soccer (MLS) season, Orlando City SC (0-0-1, 1 point) secured a point with a 1-1 draw after Stéfano Pinho’s stoppage-time equalizer against D.C. United (0-0-1, 1 point) on Saturday at Orlando City Stadium. Captain Jonathan Spector earned the game-tying assist while goalkeeper Joe Bendik made four saves.

“Really, really pleased with the effort level, the commitment level, the togetherness the team showed. The never giving up. The true grit that was shown tonight by our squad was second-to-none,” Lions head coach Jason Kreis said. “We out-possessed D.C. United on a night where we were down a man for 60 minutes. I think that says something. I do believe there’s still lots of room for improvement. Obviously. It’s a first night. But as I said before, couldn’t be happier with it. Absolutely take it.”

Orlando City began with strong possession through the first 15 minutes as Meram and rookie Chris Mueller, also in his first match with City, showed strong chemistry with Peruvian international Yoshimar Yotún up top.

D.C. was awarded a penalty kick upon Video Review, however, after it was determined Will Johnson handled the ball in the box. Bendik made a spectacular save on Darren Mattocks, reaching out with his right arm as he dove to his left to deflect the ball off the bar and post. Video Review went against City again in the 41st minute when PC was issued a red card after initially being shown a yellow.

United went ahead when Yamil Asad scored on a free kick in the 32nd minute.

Urged on by another sell-out crowd of 25,527 purple clad supporters, the Lions continued pressing throughout the match and controlled nearly 60 percent possession despite being short-handed from the first half on. Promising attempts from Mueller and Meram went wide and a driven first-time shot from Yotún was blocked off the line.

But in traditional Orlando City Opening Day fashion, the Lions equalized in the dying seconds. Meram fed Spector’s run into the box and the Captain cut it back for Pinho to power inside the far post.

Orlando City’s Opening Day record is now (1-0-3), with three draws secured with four stoppage-time goals across four seasons.

The Lions return to action on Saturday, March 10, when Minnesota United FC makes its first visit to Orlando City Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET.

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