ORLANDO, Fla. | Mix Diskerud wrote his name in New York City FC lore by scoring the Club’s first-ever goal in the 76th minute of a 1-1 draw against fellow expansion side Orlando City SC on Sunday afternoon.
New York City FC seemed poised to become just the second club in Major League Soccer history to win their debut on the road, but Kaka’s free kick in the 91st minute took a deflection and found the back of the net as the league’s two newest organizations shared the spoils in front of 62,510 at the Citrus Bowl.
With the match scoreless, Mix found himself with time and created space in the middle of the box. The midfielder, who was making his MLS debut, curled a low shot to the far corner past a diving Donovan Ricketts to give New York City FC a 1-0 advantage.
“It was a surreal experience when you see the ball get in the back of the net,” Mix said. “It’s been a long preseason so it feels good to get things started. It was fun for me and this experience is something I’ll take with me for the rest of my life. Overall, it’s the first game and a solid performance. We almost won, but I think 1-1 is a fair result.”
With the final whistle looming, Orlando City SC earned a free kick just outside of the 18-yard box. Kaka, the 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year and Ballon d'Or winner, slammed the ball into the wall, resulting in the deflection. New York City FC goalie Josh Saunders was diving to his left, but the ball caromed off the wall into the opposite side of the net.
Not surprisingly, the match between the two new clubs was passionate. Three Orlando City SC players were shown yellow cards for simulation, while a trio of New York City FC players were also shown cautions. The home side was limited to 10 men after defender Aurelien Collin was given a straight red for a challenge on forward David Villa in the 83rd minute.
New York City FC head coach Jason Kreis knew emotion and nerves would play a part in the match, so he wasn’t surprised by the result.
“I knew it was going to be a difficult match momentum-wise with 62,000 people in the stands,” Kreis said. “It was always going to be a difficult task since it was the very first game in our history. I knew the nerves were going to play a part. I didn’t know how much; you never do. I think our guys were unsettled in the first half and it caused us to give up the ball too often.”
Added midfielder Andrew Jacobson: “It’s a new group. We’ve played preseason games, but you’re never quite sure how you are until you get in a real game. We wanted to limit our mistakes, but maybe we were a little too conservative, a little too jittery in the first half, but then we settled down in the second half.”
Both teams had opportunities to score early in the match. Defender Seb Hines and forward Adam Nemec had header chances within the first 10 minutes for Orlando City SC and New York City FC, respectively. Kaka fired a rocket from outside the box on goal in the 37th minute, but it was parried away by the veteran Saunders as the scoreboard remained 0-0 at the interval.
“I was really proud of the work rate and the commitment level the guys showed to defend and stay together,” Kreis said. “We’re looking to improve day by day and week by week with what we’re doing with the ball. We have to stay consistent — the guys have to work that hard defensively if we want positive results.”
“Sometimes the game goes like that,” Jacobson said. “At the end of the day, we got a good point on the road in a pretty hostile environment. It’s a very good place to start and it’s going to get better from here.”
New York City FC return home in anticipation for their Historic Home Opener against the New England Revolution on March 15 at Yankee Stadium.