Orlando Goals: Akindele 34', Mueller 37'
NYCFC Goals: Moralez 30'
New York City FC continued preparations for their fifth MLS campaign with a hard-fought exhibition match vs. Orlando City SC at the inaugural Orlando City Invitational.
In a competitive game, Maxi Moralez gave NYCFC the lead on the half-hour mark before Orlando replied through quickfire goals before the interval from Tesho Akindele and Chris Mueller to edge this practice game.
In the first of two games in Florida, Domènec Torrent named a strong starting XI with Jesus Medina, Maxi Moralez, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi and Jonathan Lewis in the most advanced positions.
New captain Alex Ring anchored the midfield alongside the returning Ebenezer Ofori ahead of a Sean Johnson, Ben Sweat, Alexander Callens, Maxime Chanot and Joe Scally back five.
Following strong tests posed by FC Copenhagen and AIK in Abu Dhabi, City kicked off vs. hosts Orlando and had some early defending to do, with Johnson making two good saves from Kljestan and another from Akindele in a busy opening 15 minutes for the backline.
Chanot was also active as part of a strong NYC rearguard in the first half, making a couple of solid clearances to thwart dangerous Orlando attacks in the minutes which followed.
On 29’, good combination play with Sweat freed Lewis down the left and the new U.S. international was taken down inside the area but the referee allowed play to go on.
A minute later, NYCFC took the lead against the overall run of play courtesy of a 30-yard hit from Moralez which beat Brian Rowe in the Lions’ net.
That goal seemed to breed confidence with Lewis threatening again down the left side on 32’, finding Tajouri-Shradi who took a touch and volleyed a shot which deflected off an Orlando defender and wide of the target.
A minute later, NYCFC had the ball in the net again through Medina but the Paraguayan was waved offside, right before Orlando broke down the other end and levelled up the match.
Akindele was the man who got it, firing past Johnson from Kljestan’s headed assist to make it 1-1 with 34 minutes on the clock and the Lions would quickly seize the advantage before the interval, thanks to Chris Mueller’s 34th minute goal which followed a break down on the City left side.
Torrent went with the same XI for the second half but made a clutch of changes around the hour mark, bringing in Luis Barraza, Anton Tinnerholm, Sebastien Ibeagha, Tony Rocha and Valentin Castellanos for Sean Johnson, Maxime Chanot, Alexander Callens and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi.
Castellanos was straight into the action almost creating a golden opportunity for NYCFC on 66’ with a whipped-in cross but there were no takers and two minutes later, Taty’s blocked shot fell for Medina but he too found an Orlando body in his way when he struck for goal.
City’s hunt for an equalizer was dealt a late blow when Jonathan Lewis was shown a second yellow card, reducing NYCFC to ten for the final 15’.
James Sands was introduced in place of Alex Ring a minute later, allowing the youngster to get another run-out in an uneventful final stretch of the encounter.
City go again on Wednesday at the Orlando City Invitational, taking on Minnesota United at 4.30pm ET.
Dome Torrent Reaction
NYCFC XI: Johnson (Barraza 62'); Sweat, Callens (Ibeagha 62'), Chanot (Rocha 62'), Scally (Tinnerholm 62'); Ring (C), Ofori, Moralez, Lewis, Tajouri-Shradi (Castellanos 62'), Medina (Torres 85')