(Photo by Mark Thor / Orlando City SC | Video by Victor Tan / New Day Review)

Match Recap

ORLANDO, Fla. – Mathematically, the odds of making Orlando City SC making the playoffs weren’t high. Those chances were significantly diminished after a 0-0 draw with FC Dallas (10-9-12, 42 points) at Orlando City Stadium Saturday afternoon in front of 24,007 fans.

“Truth of the matter is that I’m pleased with the performance,” City head coach Jason Kreis said after the match. “Really, really pleased with the effort that the group put out. I knew it was going to be a difficult day. It’s hot out there today; it’s our third game in a week; we’ve had to travel all the way to Portland back in the last week. A lot of considerations for why the performance probably wasn’t quite as energetic as I would have liked it to have been, but, at the end of the day, the guys gave everything they had, and I think [they] can feel very proud of what they put into that game.”

City had their best scoring chances in the waning minutes of the match. In the 90th minute, midfielder Yoshimar Yotún delivered a corner into the box that met team captain Ricardo Kaká’s head. His deflection went toward the far post and narrowly missed the foot of second-half substitute Cyle Larin for the winner.

With six minutes of added time, midfielder Richie Laryea managed to control the ball at the top of the box. He turned and unloaded a shot that was deflected and bounced off the torso of center-back Matt Hedges.

Yotún had one final chance, as the Peruvian corralled an errant, headed clear and half-volleyed the ball toward Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez’s net. Gonzalez stopped the on-target effort with his face, recording his fourth and final save of the match.

“I think there is [more managing by me in the final minutes] most of the time,” Kreis said. “I think, tonight, there was not because it’s all about, ‘Can we score the goal?’ It didn’t matter if we lost the game. We needed all three points. And so we, literally, were just throwing things forward without much thought about defensively trying to stop them from scoring.”

At one point, forwards Larin, Dom Dwyer and Carlos Rivas were all in the game, as the offensive-minded Laryea replaced the defensive Servando Carrasco in the 55th minute.

In the 76th minute, Yotún drew one of his three fouls suffered near the left sideline. On the ensuing set-piece delivery, the first-year Lion found the head of center-back Seb Hines, who headed it downward and left. Gonzalez made the diving save to his right to keep it level.

The Lions’ only first-half shot on goal was a Giles Barnes strike from distance that went directly to Gonzalez in the 36th minute.

For Orlando City, the first half was highlighted by goalkeeper Joe Bendik. He recorded three first-half saves and thwarted several through-ball efforts to open the match.

Bendik’s day got started early, as he recorded his first save in the fourth minute. Dallas’ Roland Lamah found Carlos Gruezo down the right flank, giving him room to work around left-back Donny Toia. After evading his defender, Gruezo unloaded a high, on-target shot that was just saved by a leaping, outstretched Bendik.

Eight minutes later, Bendik found himself tested from his right this time. Last-minute starter Tesho Akindele, who was originally on the bench in favor of Michael Barrios, sped past Hines. Akindele’s low, near-post shot was saved by Bendik, who dropped to his right to make the quick-reaction stop.

The second-year Lions keeper made his most impressive save in the 30th minute. After Carrasco’s dangerous challenge about five yards outside the box resulted in a foul, Dallas captain Mauro Díaz struck an on-target shot that was met by a diving Bendik and his two mitts.

“Yeah, even more so than [his saves], I think he read the game really well,” center-back Jonathan Spector said after the draw. “You know, he came off his line when we just had to hold the line, and runners ran through, and he read those situations really well. He was able to come off his line and pick up those balls for us, too. So, his distribution was good. I think Joe had a really good game, and I think he was man of the match, right? And deservedly so.”

Bendik continued his form in the second half, thwarting Dallas’ best scoring chance. After recording his fourth save of the match in the 46th minute, stopping a Gruezo shot, Bendik stopped Díaz at point-blank range for his fifth and final save. Maynor Figueroa crossed the ball in front of the six-yard box to Díaz, who corralled it with a touch but couldn’t find a clean look, as Bendik saved it with his outstretched left foot.

Man of the Match: GK Joe Bendik

In addition to his five stellar saves, Bendik halted many of Dallas’ attacks by coming off his line at opportune moments and dove to gather threatening balls. Bendik’s night was highlighted by two extraordinary saves in each half. In the waning minutes of the first half, he dove to his right and parried away an on-target free kick from about five yards outside the box. Bendik made a point-blank range save early in the second half to keep the Lions’ seventh clean sheet of the season.

What’s next?

The Lions will have a two-week break before hosting fifth-place Columbus Crew SC. City are 0-1-1 against Columbus this season, losing 2-0 on April 1 and drawing 1-1 on Aug. 19.

Jonathan Spector Sees Final 2 Games as Preparation for Next Season

With the draw against Dallas, the chances of Orlando City making the playoffs have diminished significantly. Admittedly, Kreis doesn’t see the playoffs as a possibility anymore either.

“For me, now, it’s, you know, what we’ve been kinda saying in a cloaked way is, now, very clear,” Kreis said. “Without the playoffs as a possibility for us, now, it’s all about us, and it’s all about finishing with dignity.”

As for Spector, he’s looking forward, seeing these final two regular-season matchups with Columbus and the Philadelphia Union as preparation for next season.

“You know, there’s still that outside chance, right? It’s very unlikely, so, you know, we’re disappointed with that,” Spector said. “But there’s no sense in dwelling on that fact. We have to move on. We have a little bit of a break now, so try and enjoy that—work on some things that we need to, and these two next two games are about building for next season, I think.

“You know, we have to put in performances that we can be proud of, our fans can be proud of and continue to build for next season then.”

Said Carrasco after the match on the final games of 2017: “I mean, it’s all about pride, now. Every game that we approach, we wanna win. We understand that, now—I don’t know if it’s mathematically impossible to make the playoffs, but we are gonna approach these two games with the intent to win ’em. But, first and foremost, it’s been a very long week, and guys will take these three or four days to recover, and then we’ll get ready for the game versus Columbus.”


NDR Notes

  • Bendik recorded a new career-high in saves with 115 with his fifth and final save of the match.
  • Hines started his third match in his fourth appearance for the first team in 2017.
  • City’s draw with Dallas was their seventh clean sheet of the season.
  • Kreis used the center-back pairing of Spector and Hines for the first time this season.
  • Yotún and Hines led all Lions shot-takers with three shots (two on target) each.


Time Team Goal-scorer Assisted by
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Statistics and Starting Lineups

Goals Assists Shots Shots on Goal Possession %
Orlando City SC 0 0 12 5 45.7%
FC Dallas 0 0 10 5 54.3%

Orlando City SC starting XI (4-1-3-2): Joe Bendik (GK); Donny Toia, Jonathan Spector, Seb Hines, Scott Sutter; Servando Carrasco; Yoshimar Yotún, Giles Barnes, Antonio Nocerino; Ricardo Kaká (C), Dom Dwyer

FC Dallas starting XI (4-2-3-1): Jesse Gonzalez (GK); Maynor Figueroa, Matt Hedges, Atiba Harris, Hernán Grana; Carlos Gruezo, Javier Morales; Roland Lamah, Mauro Díaz (C), Tesho Akindele; Maximiliano Urruti

For more on the Lions, as they look to close out their final two regular-season games of 2017, follow Victor Tan on Twitter at @NDR_VictorTan.