ORLANDO, Fla. (July 30, 2021) - Orlando City SC (8-4-4, 28 points) battled back from two separate deficits to earn a 3-2 victory over Atlanta United FC (2-6-8, 14 points) on Friday night at Exploria Stadium, now sitting at six-straight unbeaten against its neighbors to the north.
The match was decided thanks to an 87th minute game-winner from Nani, with Silvester van der Water and Kyle Smith each getting on the board for the Lions as well, the latter scoring his first goal for the Club.
Homegrown goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar made his MLS debut in the match, having to make just one save through 90 minutes of play. Stajduhar serves as the fourth Homegrown for the Lions to appear for the side this season, following David Loera’s 2021 debut in New York City last weekend.
Head Coach Oscar Pareja:
“We’re excited. Happy to see the players back in front of our fans. It was a difficult victory, but at the end a victory that means a lot for us. The players were incredible today and the game was the same, just trying to get through some hurdles there with the first goal that they scored in the first 45 seconds and we needed to overcome that and also the second goal that was another difficult moment. I think we showed what we’re made of, what the team is. The players deserve all the recognition and today they won a very important match. Not just the three points, but just the way they brought things back, it’s all credit to them.”
1’ Josef Martínez (Brooks Lennon) - ATL 1, ORL 0
The visitors found the back of the net inside the first minute of play with Brooks Lennon finding a running Josef Martínez at the edge of the area, who hit it first time for the finish.
43’ Kyle Smith (Nani) - ORL 1, ATL 1
The Lions leveled just before the half off a corner from Nani from the right side of the pitch, finding the head of Kyle Smith in the box after a diving effort from the City defender
66’ Marcelino Moreno (Anton Walkes) - ATL 2, ORL 1
The Five Stripes regained the lead with Anton Walkes finding Marcelino Moreno at the edge of the area, who rifled a shot into the top right corner.
80’ Silvester van der Water (Benji Michel, Mauricio Pereyra) - ORL 2, ATL 2
City leveled once more, this time with Mauricio Pereyra lofting a ball out to Benji Michel on the left flank, who proceeded to head it across the face of goal to find Silvester van der Water in the area. The winger then lunged for the header to net the equalizer.
87’ Nani (Silvester van der Water) - ORL 3, ATL 2
The Lions took the lead late in the match off a whipped in ball from Silvester van der Water from the right side of the pitch. The Dutch forward was able to find the head of the City captain, who dove for the game-winner.
- Nani extended his team lead with his eighth goal of the season in the match and his third game-winner for a team high. The City captain also tallied his fifth assist of the year, his 23rd in all competitions as a Lion, now holding sole possession of that record in Club history to pass teammate Chris Mueller (22) and former Club captain Káka.
- Kyle Smith scored his first goal for the Club on the night. Dubbed “El Soldado,” Smith has started every match for City this year, the only player on the side to do so.
- Silvester van der Water found the back of the net for the second time this year while also logging the assist on Nani’s 87th minute game-winner for his third helper of the season.
- Mason Stajduhar made his MLS debut for the Lions in the match, starting in net for the side. Stajduhar tallied one save, becoming the fourth Homegrown on the side to appear for the Club this season.
- Benji Michel registered his third assist of the season on Silvester van der Water’s 80th minute equalizer.
- Tesho Akindele made his first appearance for the Lions after the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup, entering the match in the 74th minute despite logging 69 minutes for Canada in last night’s Semifinal loss to Mexico.
- Ruan made his first start for City since returning from injury, his last start coming on May 8 against NYCFC.
Next Match: The Lions return home on Wednesday, Aug. 4 to Exploria Stadium to face intrastate foes Inter Miami CF.