Orlando City SC continues to get bad breaks as was evidenced tonight in a 3-2 loss against the New York Red Bulls in Harrison, NJ. While the New Jersey-based side were better for most of the game the great talking point will be the non-penalty call  early in the second half when Red Bull defender Karl Ouimette pulled down Cyle Larin in the area on a breakaway which also should have resulted in a sending off. Instead New York kept 11 men on the pitch and went on to score three goals in rapid succession. Regardless of circumstance, this was one of the most entertaining matches of the young Major League Soccer season and was seen by a national TV audience on Fox Sports 1.

Orlando City was without Kaká for this match and instead Manager Adrian Heath played Larin and Julio Baptista up top together for the first time this season. Red Bull Arena is arguably the shrine of American Soccer but unintimidated after winning in this building last season when Red Bull won the MLS Supporters Shield (for best regular season points total) the Lions struck first. Less than three minutes into the match Rafael Ramos found acres of space galloping down the right side and Larin easily finished Ramos’ cross to give the Lions an early 1-0 advantage.

But for the rest of the first half, New York dominated in a repeat of last week’s New England assault on the Orlando defense after an early Lions goal. But this week, Orlando’s defense did not break despite the Red Bulls recording a season high for MLS 13 shots in the first half.

Orlando goalkeeper Joe Bendik made a great save on Mike Grella and minutes later Brek Shea dove in to the shot to deny Bradley Wright-Phillips a sure goal. Larin then made a great goal line clearance right at the end of the first half and it seemed like Red Bull would never break through.

The defensive shape remained good for Orlando early in the second half but was finally breached by Grella just minutes after the non-call on Ouimette and then two Wright-Phillips goals between minutes 65 and 75. Ouimette in a bit of poetic justice no doubt inflicted by the soccer gods scored a late own-goal that brought the Lions back to within a goal of equalizing. But Orlando couldn’t find the elusive equalizer which fell 3-2. While the Red Bull goals all came in a ten minute stretch with the Lions clearly unnerved by the non-call on Ouimette, New York was the better side.

While once again, Orlando can heel hard-done by the officiating, they were badly outplayed for large stretches of the match by a team that was coming in on a five-game losing streak.

 

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