NYCFC celebrates Anton Tinnerholm’s goal at the end of the first half. (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)
ORLANDO, Fla. — Despite not having three forwards who have combined for 20 goals in the lineup, New York City FC recorded a 2-0 victory over reeling 10-man Orlando City SC at Orlando City Stadium Thursday night.
Instead, City’s best offense came from not its forward line, but from its midfield and backline. Midfielder Maxi Moralez scored a goal and set up defender Anton Tinnerholm’s score at the end of the first half.
The hosts were forced to play the final seven minutes a man down after Shane O’Neill was given his marching orders on a hard tackle on Moralez.
NYCFC (13-4-4, 43 points) climbed over the Red Bulls (13-5-2, 41) and moved back into second place in the MLS Eastern Conference as it moved within a point of leader Atlanta United while Orlando (22), which has lost 11 of its last 12 games, fell to 7-13-1.
David Villa (eight goals) did not make the trip, and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (eight) and Jo Inge Berget (four goals) were on the bench. The latter two entered the match in the second half.
Goalkeeper Sean Johnson was solid in the net, recording his fourth consecutive clean sheet and ninth shutout of the season, although he was helped by the woodwork, which Orlando hit four times.
It was just one of those nights for the hosts.
NYCFC, on the other, proved it can win on the road without several key performers from its forward line.
After a relatively even first half, NYCFC struck for two goals within a six-minute span in the waning minutes after Orlando’s Yoshimar Yotún fired a shot off the crossbar in the 38th minute.
Two minutes later, Rodney Wallace sent an attempt off the left post. Moralez rushed in and cleaned up the mess in front of the net and knocked home the rebound past goalkeeper Early Edwards Jr. for his eighth goal of the season and a 1-0 lead.
Seconds into stoppage time, Moralez was in the middle of the visitors’ second goal after a Lions turnover. NYCFC countered quickly as Moralez fed an overlapping Tinnerholm on the flank. Tinnerholm penetrated into the penalty area and slipped a shot past Edwards for a 2-0 advantage.