Bradley Wright-Phillips (left) and the Red Bulls endured another scoring game. (Logan Bowles/USA TODAY Sports)
ORLANDO, Fla. — The Red Bulls have gone from one extreme to another.
After having their 16-game unbeaten regular season streak snapped last month, they find themselves on a four-game winless skid.
They suffered a 1-0 defeat at the feet of Orlando City FC at Orlando City Stadium Sunday. First-half sub Servando Carrasco’s first goal of the season proved to be the difference at the Red Bulls (7 points) fell to 2-3-1 while the Lions (9) improved to 3-1-0.
Moreover, the Red Bulls, who struck for 61 goals last year, have tallied only five times in six matches (two were own goals) while getting shut out for the second time. They are 0-3-1 during that winless streak.
The result gave Orlando City a pair of 1-0 home wins on both New York City-area MLS sides this young season after defeating New York City FC in the team’ season opener March 5.
Reverting back to their one-striker style of the last two seasons under head coach Jesse Marsch, the Red Bulls proved to be a dangerous side in the opening 20 minutes of the first half.
They looked more comfortable going forward as Bradley Wright-Phillips played with much confidence.
Eight minutes after kickoff BWP demonstrated why as he maneuvered around Donny Toia on the right side of the penalty area before unleashing a shot that goalkeeper Joe Bendik saved.
On the other side of the field, Orlando City was quite active. Only six minutes later, goalkeeper Luis Robles made a diving save on Carlos Rivas’ 12-yard shot.
Only a minute later Scott Sutter sent a right-wing cross to Cyle Larin, but Robles caught the ball.
Bendik was just as solid as he saved left back Kemar Lawrence’s shot in the 21st minute.
Finally, the hosts broke the ice in the 34th minute as Servando Carrasco, who was sitting on the bench only 20 minutes prior, scored his first goal of the season. Canadian international Will Johnson sent in a corner kick into a pack of players around the goalkeepers’ box and Carrasco, who came on for the injured Antonio Nocerino in the 17th minute, managed to head it past Robles for a 1-0 Lions lead.
Both teams had close encounters around the 51st minute. Derrick Etienne, Jr. was denied by Bendik at one end. After the hosts got a quick counter, Larin drilled his attempt wide right.
The Red Bulls had another try in the 62nd minute when Aurelien Collin headed Sacha Kljestan’s free kick from the right side on one bounce to Bendik, who had an easy save.
New York dodged a bullet in the 67th minute with Larin racing toward the goal. Sal Zizzo committed himself early and slipped and fell as the Canadian international rushed toward the goal with center back Aaron Long trying to cut down the angle. Robles, however, saved the shot and a possible two-goal deficit.
Editor’s Note: B-roll footage of today’s match, including comments from head coach Jason Kreis (1:02), Jonathan Spector (3:50), Servando Carrasco (4:50), who was tonight’s Heineken Man of the Match, and Cristian Higuita (Spanish) (5:47) can be found here.
MATCH RECAP: Lions Capture Third Win, Second Clean Sheet at Orlando City Stadium
Servando Carrasco scores first goal as a Lion
ORLANDO, Fla. (April 9, 2017) – Orlando City SC (3-1-0, 9 points) continued its excellent home form with another clean sheet victory, this time over the New York Red Bulls (2-3-1, 7 points). Servando Carrasco and Will Johnson both found the scoresheet for the first time in purple, Carrasco with the game-winning goal and Johnson with the assist. Midfielder Luis Gil made his Lions debut after joining the team on April 6.
“In all three of the home matches I thought a lot of the same things after the match. So many positive statements to make about effort level, intensity level, commitment of the players to defend,” Lions Head Coach Jason Kreis said. “Real, real signs of togetherness and just a fortitude that says, ‘We won’t be broken at home.’”
Kreis’ squad came out with a new back line for the first time this season as Scott Sutter made his first start after debuting last Saturday. Johnson moved into the right midfield and Cristian Higuita made his first start of the season.
It only took Carrasco 17 minutes to find the back of the net after coming on in the 17th minute. Johnson earned a corner when he headed Sutter’s cross back towards the goal and the Canadian international served a lovely curler to Carrasco in the six-yard box. The California native drilled it down and in with his head and celebrated with his teammates and the 25,527 fans in attendance.
City continued the pressure from there, as Cyle Larin and Carlos Rivas both had several great looks at goal. In the second half, Rivas made a nice combination play with compatriot Higuita but couldn’t settle a bouncing ball. Later, goalkeeper Joe Bendik sprung the counterattack with a great throw to Rivas, who drilled the ball from the corner flag to the far post but Larin’s attempt went inches wide.
With The Wall at their backs, the Lions kept the Red Bulls’ potent attack at bay as they grew desperate for the equalizer. Center back Jonathan Spector’s heroic block on the six-yard box in the 78th minute was one of several outstanding defensive plays.
“I would say [Spector] is critical. We’ve played four matches now and I think he’s been outstanding in all four,” Kreis continued. “He’s a very consistent performer that’s leading the back line and that is exactly what we went into the offseason looking for. I think we got that one right.”
Spector’s heroism was matched by the fearlessness of Tommy Redding, who made his first start of the season, and wing backs Sutter and Donny Toia. Carrasco, who Kreis called “the fittest player on the team,” Higuita, Johnson and MPG all made significant defensive contributions, and Rivas and Larin answered the bell when called upon.
The Lions return home next Saturday, April 15, when they host the LA Galaxy. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. ET at Orlando City Stadium. The match, in front of an already sold out crowd, will be nationally televised on FOX.
ORL – Servando Carrasco (Will Johnson) 34’
ORL – Cristian Higuita (Yellow Card) 61’
NY – Aurélien Collin (Yellow Card) 76’
ORL – Luis Gil (Yellow Card) 86’
ORL – Donny Toia (Yellow Card) 90+4’
Orlando City SC – GK Joe Bendik, D Donny Toia, Jonathan Spector, Tommy Redding, Scott Sutter, M Antonio Nocerino (Servando Carrasco 17’), Cristian Higuita (Giles Barnes 69’), Matías Pérez García (Luis Gil 84’), Ⓒ Will Johnson, F Carlos Rivas, Cyle Larin
Substitutes Not Used: GK Josh Saunders, D Kevin Alston, PC, F Hadji Barry
New York Red Bulls – GK Luis Robles, D Sal Zizzo, Aurélien Collin, Aaron Long, Kemar Lawrence, M Felipe, Tyler Adams (Fredrik Gulbrandsen 75’), Daniel Royer, Sacha Kljestan, F Derrick Etienne (Alex Muyl 70’), Bradley Wright-Phillips
Substitutes Not Used: GK Ryan Meara, D Damien Perrinelle, Michael Amir Murillo, M Sean Davis
Details of the Game:
Time: 4 p.m. ET
Date: April 9, 2017
ORL – 38.9 %
NY – 61.1 %
ORL – 12
NY – 12
ORL – 3
NY – 2
ORL – 24
NY – 14
ORL – 4
NY – 8