Orlando City forward Tesho Akindele (13) celebrates after scoring a goal in stoppage time. (Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports)
Outside of getting eliminated from the MLS Cup Playoffs, it probably doesn’t get much more disappointing than this.
After battling back from a one-goal deficit on the road, New York City FC saw an opportunity to take home a precious road point fly out the window six minutes into stoppage time to Orlando City SC on Sunday night.
Tesho Akindele’s goal lifted the hosts into a 2-1 triumph over the Cityzens at Exploria Stadium. Akindele headed home Iván Angulo’s corner kick from the left side past goalkeeper Sean Johnson to break NYCFC’s hearts in the most excruciating way. It was Akindele’s second game in a row in which he scored the game-winning goal for the Lions.
The result lift City (13-8-6, 45 points) in third place in the Eastern Conference nine points first-place Philadelphia Union (15-4-9. 54), 6-0 winners over the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night, as its hopes for a conference title seemed so much impossible with seven games left in the regular season. Fifth-place Orlando (39) improved to 11-10-6.
NYCFC was forced to play without four players. The missing included center back Alex Callens, who has an MCL issue, midfieldere Alfredo Morales, who had a lower body problem, attacker Santiago Rodriguez, who sat outt with a yellow-card suspension, and midfielder Keaton Parks, who has a calf issue.
Only seven minutes after kickoff, the hosts drew first blood on a sequence that start with a throw-in on the right side as Junior Urso slotted in a Facundo Torres feed from eight yards on the right side. An assistant referee’s flag went up, signifying offside as Urso asked for VAR to take a second look. VAR said no offside and Orlando was awarded the goal.
City battled back to equalize on Maxi Moralez’s goal in the 53rd minute, putting home a Talles Magno feed from 12 yards past keeper Pedro Gallese, setting up the dramatic ending.