ORLANDO, Fla. (July 20, 2022) - Orlando City SC dropped a 3-1 decision to English Premier League side Arsenal FC on Wednesday night at Exploria Stadium. The friendly was part of Arsenal’s US Tour in conjunction with Florida Cup’s FC Series.
Following a brief rain delay, the two sides finally met for the first time on the pitch. The Gunners struck early when Gabriel Martinelli found the back of the net in the fifth minute, but the Lions answered later in the first half with a sensational goal from Facundo Torres. Torres brought down a gorgeous pass from Antonio Carlos and kept his composure by finding his footing, cutting on his left foot and firing the ball past a diving Aaron Ramsdale.
Arsenal were backed by two goals in the second half coming from Eddie Nketiah and Reiss Nelson to seal the victory for the London-based side. The match saw a plethora of players enter the match with each side allowed 10 substitutions each, including OCB product Moises Tablante earning his first minutes with the senior side. Nineteen-year-old Homegrown Mikey Halliday earned the start at right back, playing 63 minutes in the match.
Head Coach Oscar Pareja:
“I was happy to see a very enjoyable game for the fans against a fantastic rival. We brought the heat to Orlando and competed with them in front of our fans so that was really good. A lot of good things happened to us. It was a good experience for the boys. We know that we have our heads in the league. In a few days we need to compete. We have our heads in the [Open Cup] semifinals that is coming as well. Today, the boys understood the message of taking care of this one game and it was important for the people too and we didn’t want to disappoint. They did a fantastic job. I am proud and ready to move on to the next one. We are proud to see our academy boys too, so good things.
5’ Gabriel Martinelli (Eddie Nketiah) - ARS 1, ORL 0
The English Premier League side opened the scoring when Gabriel Martinelli received the ball from Eddie Nketiah and sent the shot towards goal, taking a deflection into the back of the net.
29’ Facundo Torres (Antonio Carlos) - ORL 1, ARS 1
The Lions leveled with Facundo Torres receiving a ball over top from Antonio Carlos, taking a few touches and looking to stumble outside the area, but instead regaining his footing and creating enough space for himself past two Arsenal defenders to rip off a shot into the bottom right corner of the net.
66’ Eddie Nketiah - ARS 2, ORL 1
The Gunners regained the league in the second half, with Eddie Nketiah able to jump on a loose ball in the box and slot his shot into the far post.
80’ Reiss Nelson (Bukayo Saka) - ARS 3, ORL 1
Arsenal scored their third goal of the match with Bukayo Saka finding Reiss Nelson in the middle of the box, who struck it with his right foot and found the bottom left corner of the net.
Next Match: The Lions return home on Saturday, July 23, taking on the Philadelphia Union at Exploria Stadium in a 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff.