ORLANDO, Fla. (July 22, 2021) - Orlando City SC (7-3-4, 25 points) took a 2-1 victory over Eastern Conference foe Philadelphia Union (6-4-5, 23 points) on Thursday night at Exploria Stadium, scoring on both sides of the half to take all three points.
Benji Michel netted his third finish of the year in the 10th minute of play, followed by Andrés Perea finding the back of the net for the second time in three matches for the eventual game-winner in the 59th.
Mauricio Pereyra recorded an assist on each of the Lions’ finishes to take the team lead with six on the year, while Nani tied the Club-record in all competitions for City with his 22nd helper on Perea’s second-half finish. The Portuguese international joins teammate Chris Mueller and former Lions’ captain Kaká at that mark.
Goalkeeper Pedro Gallese tallied four saves in the match, two of which came in the dying moments of the contest to preserve the victory for the Lions. The City defense held the Union without a shot on goal for the first 78 minutes of play, allowing just four in total on the night.
With the start, Mueller broke the Club-record for all-time appearances as a Lion, passing former City midfielder Cristian Higuita (108) with his 109th appearance since being selected sixth-overall at the 2018 MLS SuperDraft.
Head Coach Oscar Pareja:*
“First of all, congratulations to the footballers today. It’s a fantastic win in a very difficult game in front of our fans. We wanted them to enjoy another victory after a period where we have been suffering a lot, trying to get the squad healthy and trying to get everybody back. Today we faced a rival that has a lot of consistency in their ways and I think we were protagonists, especially in the first half. Fantastic match against a fantastic opponent and three points that we value a lot tonight.”
10’ Benji Michel (Mauricio Pereyra) - ORL 1, PHI 0
The Lions opened the scoring in the 10th minute, the seventh time this year they’ve found the back of the net inside 15 minutes of play, with Mauricio Pereyra threading the needle for a running Benji Michel in behind the Union defense. The Lions’ Homegrown took a pair of touches before slotting a finish into the bottom right corner of the net.
59’ Andrés Perea (Nani, Mauricio Pereyra) - ORL 2, PHI 0
City doubled its advantage off an in-swinging cross from Nani from the right side, finding the head of Andrés Perea in the area, who flicked it into the far post for his second goal in the Lions’ last three matches.
68’ Kacper Przybylko (Olivier Mbaizo, Daniel Gazdag) - ORL 2, PHI 1
The visitors halved the deficit less than 10 minutes later with Daniel Gazdag finding Olivier Mbaizo down the right flank, who crossed it into the area, finding the foot of Kacper Przybylko for the first-time finish.
- With the start on Thursday night, Chris Mueller surpassed former Lions midfielder Cristian Higuita to become the Club’s all-time leader in appearances across all competitions with his 109th in purple.
- Andrés Perea found the back of the net for the second time this year, both of his finishes coming in the Lions’ last three contests.
- Benji Michel netted his third goal of the year in the match, the 15th of his professional career in his 60th appearance for the Club across all competitions.
- Mauricio Pereyra tallied both his fifth and sixth assists of the season in the match, a team-high, in what served as his 40th appearance in all competitions for City and his 35th start. Pereyra is now the second Lion to record multiple assists in a match, following Nani who did the same on June 22 in City’s 5-0 victory over San Jose.
- Nani tallied his fourth assist of the year on Perea’s 59th-minute finish, extending his goal contributions to 11 to lead the side. With the helper, the Lions’ captain tied teammate Chris Mueller and former City captain Kaká for the Club-record in all competitions with his 22nd for the Lions.
- Antonio Carlos made his first appearance for the Lions since July 3, entering the match in the 73rd minute for Pereyra.
Next Match:* The Lions face a quick turnaround, traveling to take on 2015 expansion rivals New York City FC on Sunday, July 25 at Yankee Stadium.