As far as first goals are concerned, it’s hard to think of much sweeter circumstances.
After a long and frustrating first half that saw a Josef Martínez goal in the first minute and chance after chance turned away by Alec Kann, it was Kyle Smith who broke through to get Orlando City on the board a few minutes before halftime.
While Nani and Silvester van der Water both had cases for their late-game heroics in Orlando City’s 3-2 win over Atlanta United on Friday night, it was Smith who was voted Heineken Man of the Match, thanks to his first-ever goal as a Lion.
Orlando City, who had put Atlanta under pressure throughout the first half only to see Kann make an Atlanta-record six first-half saves, earned a corner in the 43rd minute. Nani’s beautiful delivery originally seemed to be targeting Antonio Carlos, but Smith lurked in behind to knock it home off his head.
The goal came in Smith’s 62nd competitive appearance for Orlando City. It was also the Lions’ first goal scored on a corner kick this season, a feat made even stranger considering Orlando has not yet conceded a single corner-kick goal.
Smith did his usual work defensively to help Orlando see out the victory, playing left back and adding three tackles won to his league-leading total of 32. Smith also completed 87% of his passes on the night.