ORLANDO, Fla. (Aug. 21, 2021) - Orlando City SC (9-4-7, 34 points) took a 1-0 shutout victory over Chicago Fire FC (5-11-5, 20 points) on Saturday night at Exploria Stadium. Benji Michel scored the eventual game-winner in the fixture in the 51st minute, good for his fourth goal of the year, tying Head Coach Oscar Pareja for the Club all-time wins record with Jason Kreis, each with 22 victories at the helm. Pareja reached the mark in 16 less matches than Kreis, managing his 49th match on Saturday as opposed to Kreis’ 65.
With the victory, goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar recorded the first clean sheet of his professional career, tallying five saves on the night to set a new single-game high. Stajduhar also tied the Club-record for consecutive matches unbeaten to start his Orlando City career, a record set by Tally Hall in 2015.
The match also saw Tesho Akindele set a new career high in assists in a single campaign, recording his fifth of the season, while Homegrown midfielder Raul Aguilera made his Orlando City debut, entering the match in the 85th minute for Joey DeZart.
Head Coach Oscar Pareja:
“A fantastic performance for the boys, especially for what they are getting through and tonight for the youngsters in Orlando where Mason [Stajduhar] and Raul [Aguilera] stood out today and showed their presence and the development of our Academy here. Competing and winning those three points means a lot for the Club, for the players. I think in the game we were good, we managed the tempo much better. The last six or seven minutes where Chicago started sending balls in the box, we had to defend with some suffering there, but overall I thought that our behavior was very good and what we wanted with the personality to create our sequences, create our chances. We would like to be more precise as we have been saying all along on scoring goals and obviously not suffering that much, but I’m very proud of this group. Today they got an enormous victory in front of our fans. It’s an invitation to what is coming with two more games at home, especially our derby and we will be ready. We’re proud and happy for this victory.”
51’ Benji Michel (Tesho Akindele) - ORL 1, CHI 0
The Lions took the lead shortly after the break, with Tesho Akindele picking the pocket of the Chicago defense, finding Benji Michel on the turnover. The City Homegrown then dribbled into space before sending his shot into the lower left corner of the net from the edge of the area for his fourth goal of the year.
- Benji Michel netted his fourth goal of the season on the night, trailing only Nani on the side in finishes this season.
- Tesho Akindele tallied his fifth assist of the season on Michel’s finish, a new career high for the Canadian international in a single campaign.
- Mason Stajduhar recorded the first clean sheet of his professional career, posting five saves to keep the Fire scoreless in the match.
- Head Coach Oscar Pareja tied former head coach Jason Kreis for the Club all-time wins record, tallying his 22nd at the helm in just his 49th match. Kreis reached the same mark, but in 65 matches coached as opposed to Pareja’s 49.
- Raul Aguilera made his Orlando debut in the match, entering the game in the 85th minute for Joey DeZart. Aguilera became the fifth Homegrown to feature for the Lions this season with the appearance.
- The match served as Robin Jansson’s 75th start as a Lion.
- The Lions were forced into a first-half substitution, with Chris Mueller entering the game in the 30th minute for Nani.
- Head Coach Oscar Pareja made two changes to his starting lineup entering Saturday’s match, with Nani and Ruan reentering the fold for the Lions.
Next Match: The Lions return home on Friday, Aug. 27 to take on intrastate foes Inter Miami CF at Exploria Stadium in an 8:30 p.m. ET kickoff.