Header photo: Nashville SC players kneel during the national anthem prior to the evening’s game. It’s unfathomable that Orlando City didn’t also get the memo (the match officials did!) but only one player – team captain Nani – knelt for the Lions. Photo Courtesy Orlando City SC
Nashville SC and Orlando City SC probably shouldn’t have played the second half of their game this evening. When the teams went to the locker room after a 1-1 first half, they certainly received news that every other MLS game, like every other game in every major league around the country – had been canceled. Professional athletes took a stand, a wildcat strike to protest the persistent violence against Black Americans. It started with the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks – who play in the metropolis whose suburbs saw police shoot an unarmed Black man, Jacob Blake, Sunday afternoon, follow by an incident of White Supremacist murder Tuesday evening in the resulting protests – and has spread everywhere except Orlando.
So, with that said, it’s a little tough to write about a soccer game that maybe shouldn’t have started (TUDN’s Nico Cantor reported that Atlanta and Miami players tried to spread word of the protest to Orlando prior to kickoff, to no avail), and probably shouldn’t have been finish. I will still do it.
Nashville started the game brightly, attacking on the front foot out of a 4-4-2 formation before things settled in and the teams traded blows. The Boys in Gold pulled ahead in the 15th minute thanks to a Dave Romney header out of a set-piece situation, which managed to dribble past Orlando keeper Pedro Gallese. Orlando didn’t take long to respond, though, with a cross from João Moutinho headed home by winger Chris Mueller on the doorstep just six minutes later. Orlando took control of the balance of the first half, but neither team was able to break through again.
The teams chose to finish the game, and it was all Orlando after the break. A giveaway on a mishandled Walker Zimmerman pass by Dax McCarty gave the Lions a fast-break opportunity, and Mauricio Pereyra’s square ball to Daryl Dike was slammed home to give the hosts the lead. A shot off the woodwork from Randall Leal provided the best opportunity for Nashville, but when his blast settled harmlessly, the wind was taken out of Nashville’s sails. Dike would double his fun in the 71st, slotting a rebound past Nashville keeper Joe Willis.
Nashville was unable to mount the comeback, with only three shots for the remainder of the contest.
- 15′ NSH GOAL – 4 Dave Romney (header), assisted by 10 Hany Mukhtar (free kick)
- 21′ ORL GOAL – 9 Chris Mueller (left foot), assisted by 4 João Moutinho (square pass, breakaway)
- 43′ NSH Yellow card – 3 Jalil Anibaba (foul)
- 44′ ORL Yellow card – 4 João Moutinho (foul)
- 45’+3 Half time
- 52′ ORL GOAL – 18 Daryl Dike (right foot), assisted by Mauricia Pereyra (cross)
- 64′ NSH Substitution – On 21 Derrick Jones, off 10 Hany Mukhtar
- 65′ NSH Substitution – On 9 Dominique Badji, off 7 Abu Danladi
- 66′ ORL Substitution – On Júnior Urso, off 8 Jhegson Mendez
- 67′ ORL Substitution – On Andrés Perea, off 20 Oriol Rosell
- 71′ ORL GOAL – 18 Daryl Dike (right foot), rebound
- 77′ NSH Substitution – On 11 David Accam, off 20 Aníbal Godoy
- 78′ ORL Substitution – On 19 Benji Michel, off 10 Mauricio Pereyra
- 83′ ORL Yellow card – 19 Benji Michel (foul)
- 85′ ORL Substitutions
- On 24 Kyle Smith, off 9 Chris Mueller
- On 27 Kamal Miller, off 4 João Moutinho
- 90’+5 NSH Yellow card – 12 Alistair Johnston (foul)
- 90’+5 Full time