Orlando, Florida. Right before the kickoff, you could feel the tension in the air.
This was NYCFC’s first game of the season. There hasn’t been this much excitement for a soccer team in New York City in a very long time and we were all anxious to see what our team would do. Two expansion teams squared off in their season opener to showcase their talents.
Orlando City started off strong. A free kick from Kaka was headed by Hines in the opening of the game that sailed wide left. At the 15th minute we all held our breath as NYCFC goalkeeper Josh Saunders was shaken up pretty badly on a goal saving dive. The sound of his head to the pole caused many to cringe as blood dripped. HEART. PASSION. GLORY. Saunders could not let his team down. He refused. He demanded to stay in the game and made several saves throughout the match that were “Player of the Match” worthy.
Orlando continued their assault as our defense held firm. The first half came to an end and the game was scoreless.
Once the second half was underway Orlando were again on the attack. Our offense was not on form and we weren’t getting the looks that we wanted. Frustration began to show on the player’s faces.
However, in a key substitution, Mehdi Ballouchy for Shelton, the NYCFC offense was given life. In the 68th minute, on a counter attack, NYCFC had its best opportunity of the game with a low cross shot from Shelton that edged the outer left post. A couple of minutes later a wide-open Adam Nemec sailed one high above into the stands. NYCFC had woken up!
Then came the play of the game- David Villa to Diskerud Mix. Mix gathered up and with a right foot shot was able to bend it right around the goalkeeper into lower right back of the net. GOLAZO!
The faithful of the Third Rail rattled the Orlando City fans in what seemed like the game clinching goal by Diskerud Mix! At Nevada’s Smith high fives and cheers sprang out as fans from different backgrounds were united to witness this historic moment. The first goal to NYCFC’s regular season and history was nothing short of spectacular. A red card was handed out to Orlando’s Aurelian Collin in the 84th minute which left OCSC with just 10 men. The game was winding down and a NYCFC victory was in our grasp.
However in the dying minutes a free kick from Kaka deflected off of the wall and into the net. The game was now even at 1-1 in the 90th minute. Although there were 4 minutes of extra given, it was still not enough as the referee blew the final whistle.
Our men in blue fought hard in a tough environment and many positives came about this test! There’s nothing but progress from here on out! We are with you NYCFC. Forever Blue and White!
- Article written by Jor Arcila