Torres Penalty Helps Orlando City Celebrate Home Opener Victory vs Red Bulls

Orlando City Home Opener

Orlando, FL – Coming off their best season in club history (US Open Cup Championship and an MLS Playoff birth) the Orlando City SC Lions were ready to hit the ground running on their 2023 MLS season campaign. The defending Open Cup champs seemed poised for another cup run. They held it down for an almost-packed house of 24,088 screaming Orlando City fans, winning their home opener 1-0 vs the New York Red Bulls.

Game Winner

Facundo Torres capitalized on a penalty that came after Red Bulls captain, Sean Nealis was called for a handball inside the penalty area. Fittingly, Red Bulls manager, Gerhard Struber said the referee made a “wrong decision”. Also, he said the play shouldn’t have been a penalty because the ball touched off Nealis’ chest before hitting his arm. In my opinion, those plays and calls can go either way. If the game is decided on a call like that, you can only point the finger at yourself for not doing more. If you follow Formula 1, that decision wasn’t akin to Michael Masi screwing Mercedes at the end of the 2021 F1 season. Sorry, Toto.

The Pressure Moments

The rest of the match was a bit more even-keeled. Orlando and New York shared possession. However, the Red Bulls outshot Orlando 14-6. On top of that, New York had four shots on target while Orlando only had one, the penalty. Alternatively, Pedro Gallese showed face today, making some key saves and keeping a clean sheet.

Most Red Bull opportunities came off of Orlando turning the ball over in their own half. New York presses high and they’re very good at creating those types of opportunities. Respectively, Orlando Manager, Óscar Pareja thought his team did a good job of dealing with that pressure.

A New Spark

The Lions did a better job in the 2nd half of moving the ball into dangerous positions. Suitably, this ultimately led to their penalty opportunity. One of the sparks came from the substitution of new signee Ramiro Enrique. Orlando needed to push. All of a sudden, he made his regular-season debut with the club in the 63′. Obviously. the kid plays hard and isn’t afraid to go after the play. The 21-year-old came from Club Atlético Banfield in Argentina’s 1st division.

The Blazing Fire

I caught up with Facundo Torres after the match. I asked him what he was bringing with him from his experience in the World Cup. What did he learn with Uruguay that he’ll carry into this new season as a new leader with Orlando? He said that he didn’t get to play. And, that a few of his teammates also didn’t get to play. However, they all trained every day as if they would get the start. The professionalism and leadership that this young man brings to that position will be key to Orlando improving upon last season’s performance.

Next up, the Orlando City Lions host Cincinnati, who defeated the Houston Dynamo 2-1 in their home opener today.

The Lions Den

  • Facundo Torres establishes himself as a leader in this squad early in the season. I look forward to seeing the young Uruguayan score many more goals for the Lions.
  • Pedro “El Pulpo” Gallese made four blocks today to keep a clean sheet, including one with his face… Ouch!
  • Ivan Angulo was as close as you can get to being omnipotent on the field tonight. Homie was everywhere!

Photo Credit: Orlando City SC

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