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D.C. United can’t solve Orlando City in 1-0 loss

An early Mauricio Pereyra goal was the difference as United could never quite break through the Lions’ defense

MLS: Orlando City SC at D.C. United Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

A week after winning 1-0 on a 7th minute goal, D.C. United fell 1-0 to Orlando City after Mauricio Pereyra’s 7th minute strike. Despite bossing most of the game and getting some important players back on the field, the Black-and-Red found Orlando’s stout defense too difficult to unlock.

Facing a quick turnaround after Thursday’s 1-0 win over Chicago, Hernán Losada made just two changes to his lineup, bringing Paul Arriola and Joseph Mora in as wingbacks in their first starts since recent injuries. Otherwise, he stuck with Jon Kempin in goal and Adrien Perez up front after both had success against the Fire.

Unfortunately for United, the changes did not lead to a great start, with the visitors going up 1-0 in the 7th minute. United’s pressure forced a loose ball that rolled into acres of space on the right wing, and Orlando’s Kyle Smith pumped a long ball forward. Mauricio Pereyra brought the ball down in expert fashion, and after a smart combination in the box with Tesho Akindele, fired with ease past Kempin from 11 yards.

The Black-and-Red nearly got level just two minutes later, with Arriola sending Perez in behind with a dangerous through ball. However, Perez’s attempt to poke the ball past Pedro Gallese was deemed a foul by referee Alex Chilowicz, ending any goalmouth drama as Smith arrived to clear the ball off the line in the aftermath.

United were growing into the game though, with Drew Skundrich forcing a save from Pedro Gallese before the Peruvian goalkeeper did even better to rob his international teammate Edison Flores at the near post in the 23rd minute after good work from Moses Nyeman to create the chance. Three minutes later, Perez went inches from an equalizer after shaking multiple Orlando defenders only for Gallese to tip his deflected shot barely wide.

The Black-and-Red showed more fluency breaking forward in the 36th minute, with a counter following an Orlando set piece nearly turning into a goal. Arriola and Flores scampered free of virtually everyone in white, but though Flores set Arriola up with a clever backheel inside the box, Orlando’s defense arrived just in time to block Arriola’s goal-bound shot.

United kept hammering away, with Arriola missing an early look before then seeing a shot following a corner end up hitting Perez just before forcing Gallese into action.

Responding to Orlando making an early move to a back five, Losada opted for a triple sub in the 64th minute, bringing Felipe Martins, Ola Kamara, and Kevin Paredes (for his first action of 2021) on for Junior Moreno, Perez, and Arriola respectively. The move saw United, who started in a 352, move into a 343.

Paredes made an immediate impact, winning two dangerous fouls and drawing a roar from the Buzzard Point crowd after bodying Nani off the ball, but despite United piling up possession and looks, the equalizer felt just out of reach. Orlando drew the ire of the home fans by time-wasting, but United’s last real opportunity was a penalty kick shout from Paredes that was rejected by Chilowicz.

The loss, their first at home this year, sees United fall to 9th place in the Eastern Conference. They’ll look to get back on course at home next weekend, hosting the Philadelphia Union on Sunday, May 23 at 7:00pm.

Box Score

MLS Regular Season - Game 6
D.C. United 0
Orlando City 1 (Pereyra 7)

DCU (352): Jon Kempin; Brendan Hines-Ike, Frederic Brillant (C), Tony Alfaro; Paul Arriola (Kevin Paredes 64), Moses Nyeman (Julian Gressel 46), Junior Moreno (Felipe Martins 64), Drew Skundrich, Joseph Mora (Yamil Asad 78); Edison Flores, Adrien Perez (Ola Kamara 64)

Orlando (4231): Pedro Gallese; Kyle Smith, Antonio Carlos, Rodrigo Schlegel, Joao Moutinho; Junior Urso (Joye Dezart 81), Sebas Mendez; Benji Michel (Robin Jansson 51), Mauricio Pereyra (Andrés Perea 70), Nani (C); Tesho Akindele (Chris Mueller 82)

DCU - Hines-Ike 42, Brillant 97+
Orlando - Moutinho 61, Pereyra 69, Mueller 93+, Nani 95+