A wave of super subs kept the Lions undefeated at home.
After going scoreless for most of the match, second half substitutes Carlos Rivas and Ricardo Kaka led Orlando City to a 2-1 victory over the Colorado Rapids on Saturday afternoon in front of a sellout crowd of 25,527 at Orlando City Stadium.
Rivas scored his first goal of the season in the 70th minute after sinking a long-range shot toward the upper-right corner to score the opening goal for Orlando City. Kaka added the final goal a minute into stoppage time after Cyle Larin’s initial shot hit off the post, finding the Brazilian for the easy tap in.
Both players who started on the bench entered in the 58th and 60th minute for Giles Barnes and Matias Perez Garcia.
“From my point of view, it’s great to talk about the wins, but I prefer to talk about the performance at the moment, because I feel that this was a game where we improved,” said Orlando coach Jason Kreis. “It was a difficult game with the conditions in the heat, and it took us a while to kinda get there, but at the end of the day, we’re playing some pretty good soccer, and creating some good chances.”
The win kept the Lions (6-1-0, 18 points) undefeated at home for the season, while also recording their third shutout victory of the season at home.
Larin played the full 90 minutes and was able to tally three shots with only one at goal when he headed a ball from close range in the 68th minute, but it was denied by Colorado goalkeeper Zac MacMath.
It was Kaka’s first game back after suffering a hamstring injury, which kept him out for almost six weeks. For Rivas, his goal on Saturday was much anticipated as the Colombian striker has commented before on searching for his first goal of the season.
“I cannot put in words what I’m feeling, what is the emotions to back, to play and score and win another game at home,” said Kaka. “The most important thing for our team to become a championship team is the group, so we’re seeing now that Orlando City is a strong group, and we are showing how it’s important on how we can get far with this strong group.”
Rapids goalkeeper Tim Howard, who was serving a three-game suspension, did not play for Pablo Mastroeni’s team, but did travel with the squad.
For most of the early season, Kreis has emphasized on the importance of dominating possession, especially at home. After winning possession on Saturday with 55.2 percent, the Lions head coach said there’s still plenty of room for improvement as Orlando City is faced with a short turnaround when it visits Toronto on Wednesday for midweek MLS action.
“I think there’s quite a bit, actually. I think there were moments today where I thought we were getting quite a bit loose. I think there were moments today where I thought the back four was dropping off pretty far. So tactically, we still have room for improvement… we’re after perfect, and we probably know that we won’t get there, but this isn’t going to stop us from trying,” said Keis.
Orlando City is back in action on Wednesday when it visits BMO Field to take on Toronto FC at 7:30 p.m.
Orlando City XI: Bendik; Toia, Spector, Redding, Sutter; Nocerino; Higuita, Johnson; Perez Garcia; Barnes, Larin.
Orlando City bench: Saunders, Gil, PC, Aja, Carrasco, Kaka, Rivas.
(Photo Courtesy of Orlando City / Mark Thor)