ORLANDO – To say it was a long time coming would be putting it lightly. Orlando City’s (3-5-3, 12 pts) first home win in MLS play came against the biggest of opponents: Bruce Arena and the LA Galaxy (3-4-5, 14 pts). The defending champs drowned in a sea of purple as the home crowd of over 40,000 lauded the Lions’ 4-goal explosion.
The Lions couldn’t find enough things they were proud of after their 4-0 win. Among the many bright spots in City’s dominant performance was Tally Hall. The 30-year-old made a single save to earn a clean sheet in his first game back from tearing his ACL last August.
“It was a fairly comfortable night for me, the team played great,” said Hall, smiling from ear to ear.
“It’s fun, you know, it’s good to be nervous again. Those butterflies come and go, you’re preparing yourself and you’re thinking, ‘Alright, this could be it’. It’s fun to feel that. It’s been a long time.”
The Galaxy managing just a single shot had everything to do with the play of center backs Seb Hines and Sean St. Ledger, who was filling in for an injured Aurelien Collin. Coach Adrian Heath had nothing but praise for his defenders after the game.
“I thought St. Ledger and Hines were excellent… I thought them two were very, very good when they had to be and they made really good decisions when they had to. They didn’t play where they didn’t need to and played where they should’ve done. I thought the back four was excellent today.”
The reliable play of St. Ledger and Hines allowed Rafael Ramos and Luke Boden to get involved in the attack, which they did early and often. Ramos’ 12th minute cross found Brek Shea on the far post, who calmly headed it to Eric Avila for his first goal with Orlando City. Boden took 7 corners as the Lions kept the pressure on LA all night.
Darwin Cerén also netted his first goal in purple. His first attempt on goal was a blast from 30 yards out, which LA keeper Jaime Penedo barely tipped up off the bar. He had another go from 30 yards just 15 minutes later, which pinballed it’s way past Penedo to make it 4-0. After the game, Heath said he thought Cerén was the best player on the pitch.
With the game still in doubt at 2-0, Kaká was awarded a penalty kick after being tripped up in the box. Kaká slotted it to the left and ran to the bench to grab a prop for his celebration. He pulled Kevin Molino’s jersey over his and pointed to the name on the back for the entire crowd to see.
“I think it’s a tough period for Kevin. I’ve been in this situation in the past so I know how hard it is. The team needs to be with him now. Everybody needs to be with him together because he’s going to help us a lot next year,” said the captain.
Cyle Larin extended his hot streak to 4 goals in 4 games with his 34th minute tally. It was set up beautifully by Kaká, who side-stepped a sliding Tommy Meyer for a 2-on-1 with Larin and Penedo.
“I said when he scored his first goal at Portland, I think this will be the first of many. The way he’s playing at the moment, nothing changes that,” said Heath afterwards.
“I’m just working hard to keep scoring and if I do that, I think I’ll score a lot of goals in this league,” said Larin.
Larin and the Lion’s next chance to score a lot of goals will come next Sunday when City takes on the San Jose Earthquakes in Levi’s Stadium.