Orlando, FL – This past Saturday marked the first day of the inaugural Orlando City Invitational, which saw Orlando City SC and three other MLS teams play preseason friendlies at Orlando City Stadium. Minnesota United FC took on the New England Revolution in Saturday’s early game, followed by the nightcap featuring Orlando City hosting New York City FC.
The game gave Orlando City supporters their first chance to see the new-look Lions, who are in the middle of a massive roster overhaul. Coach James O’Connor has brought in 12 players so far, including current trialists, and the club also announced today the arrival of Sporting CP winger Nani. Since the end of a tough 2018 season, the club has moved on from 15 players. The new arrival of Nani should give supporters an extra boost of confidence going into the 2019 MLS season.
— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) February 18, 2019
“It’s just being very intentional about what we’re trying to do,” O’Connor said. “Stick to the process, understand what we’re trying to do and make sure that the learning is there for the players.”
Midfielder Sacha Kljestan said the team has shown it is open to O’Connor’s instructions throughout the preseason.
“I think the willingness to learn, the willingness to try something new with, maybe, a new formation, and a willingness to be uncomfortable and I think a vulnerability of everybody,” Kljestan said.
The first game on Saturday saw The New England Revolution drop their opening match of the inaugural Orlando City Invitational, 1-0, to Minnesota United FC. Minnesota’s Miguel Ibarra scored the game’s lone goal in the 65th minute when he forced a turnover and finished with his right foot. The second game saw Orlando City SC win its first preseason match of the inaugural Orlando City Invitational on Saturday with a 2-1 victory over NYCFC. New York City took an early 1-0 lead in the 30th minute, but The Lions answered back just four minutes later with a goal from newcomer Tesho Akindele. A cross from Danilo Acosta found the head of Sacha Kljestan in the box, who flicked it behind to Akindele for the finish to even the match at 1-1. Chris Mueller followed suit shortly in the 37′ minute, giving the Lions a 2-1 advantage and eventual win.
Two goals. Three points. Back in front of our City fam.
— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) February 17, 2019
City will host its second match of the Orlando City Invitational on Wednesday, Feb. 20, against the New England Revolution at 7:30 p.m. The Lions will open their fifth MLS campaign at Orlando City Stadium on Saturday, March 2 against NYCFC at 2:30 p.m. on Univision Deportes.
Photo Credit | John Chapman