Jacksonville Sports Day

Orlando City in MLS is Back Tournament Final, Defeats Minnesota United 3-1

ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando City SC defeated Minnesota United by a score of 3-1 on Thursday night in its Semifinal fixture of the MLS is Back Tournament at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex housed at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Lions’ captain Luis Nani scored the eventual game-winner in the 42nd minute of play, the second of his two finishes on the night to register his first brace of the tournament. Nani was involved on City’s third finish as well, earning a secondary assist on Benji Michel’s 96th minute insurance goal to send the Lions through to the Final of the MLS is Back Tournament.

With the victory, the Lions will face the Portland Timbers on Tuesday, Aug. 11 in the MLS is Back Tournament Final for the chance to lift their first silverware in the MLS era and for a spot in the 2021 Concacaf Champions League.

“We’re very happy to be in the Final. It has been a great tournament and a great opportunity for our players to represent the franchise and the Club. I think they have done a great job and are very well-deserved to be in the Final and tonight against a very good team, it was really hard to beat Minnesota,” said OC Head Coach Oscar Pareja. “I think they came sharp and we adjusted well and the best part was that we respected the way we play and we respect our ways, our forms and we end up getting a result under our concept and principles and that’s what made us even more proud.”

The Lions took the lead thanks to a lofted ball from Robin Jansson that found Nani running in behind the Minnesota defense. The City captain took a touch into the area before poking the ball into the back of the net past Loons’ goalkeeper Tyler Miller.

The Portuguese international struck once more to double the lead for the Lions, with Sebastián Méndez switching the field to find Nani outside the box on the opposite side. Nani took a touch to his right before curling a finish into the right side netting.

The Loons got one back with former Orlando City midfielder Kevin Molino playing Mason Toye through in behind the Lions’ defense, who was able to slot it into the back of the net.

City secured the victory late with Nani finding Júnior Urso who sent Benji Michel through on the break. One-on-one with Miller, Michel dribbled around the Loons’ goalkeeper and passed it into the back of the net to lock up the Lions spot in Tuesday’s Final.

The Lions will face the Portland Timbers in the MLS is Back Tournament Final on Tuesday, Aug. 11 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Kickoff is slated for 8:30 p.m. ET.

MATCH NOTES: Nani secured his first brace of 2020, scoring in the 36th and 42nd minutes respectively. The Lions’ captain recorded three braces a year ago, one each against Colorado, FC Cincinnati and New England…. Benji Michel scored his first goal of 2020 in the match, a 96th-minute finish to secure the Lions’ spot in Tuesday’s Final…..Nani nearly bested Lions forward Chris Mueller for the fastest brace in Club history – a record Mueller broke at the MLS is Back Tournament against NYCFC – but was seven seconds shy of Mueller’s mark with a difference of 6:11 to his teammate’s 6:04….With the victory, the Lions advanced to their first Final of any sort in the MLS era…. Robin Jansson and Sebastián Méndez each recorded their first assists of their respective City tenures in the match.

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