Orlando City arrived in New Jersey after a 15-day break for the international playing window with hopes of not just clinching their third straight playoff berth, but also stealing homefield from their expansion rivals, NYCFC. Instead, the Lions leave with their playoff destiny still in their own hands but a much smaller margin for error.
Talles Magno’s goal in the 81st minute helped lead New York City FC to a 2-1 victory over Orlando City on Sunday, almost assuring the Lions will start their postseason on the road in two weeks. But the window for them to even secure a playoff spot got narrower thanks to results in other games and the difficult road ahead for the Lions.
Orlando City is currently tied with Inter Miami CF and the Columbus Crew for the two final playoff spots with 45 points each. Orlando City owns the tiebreaker in case of a three-way tie, but will play both clubs in their final two games this season. Orlando City can clinch a playoff spot with results in those final two games, but the margin for error dwindled after the team entered the weekend with a chance to secure their spot outright.
Things did not go their way for that to happen, but there were some positive signs early.
The Lions took the lead in the 47th minute on a throw-in from Joao Moutinho that found Ercan Kara in the box. He flicked away from next and found Facundo Torres for the opening goal.
NYCFC kep the pressure on, scoring roughly 20 minutes later when the Lions were unable to clear the ball and it squirted to Alexander Callens for the equalizer.
NYCFC secured the victory when Gabriel Pereira took a long ball and found Talles Magno behind the defense. He slotted a low ball to the far post past Pedro Gallese for the victory with less than 10 minutes to play.
Orlando City has now lost three of its past four MLS matches.
NYCFC outshot Orlando 11-9, with four shots on goal to one for Orlando.
Sean Johnson saved one of the two shots he faced for NYCFC. Pedro Gallese saved two of the four shots he faced for Orlando.
NYCFC visits Atlanta United on Sunday, while Orlando will visit Inter Miami on Wednesday.