New York City and Orlando City have developed a pretty good rivalry. The two teams entered MLS together as expansion teams in 2015, and they've managed to each been coached by Jason Kreis, who was fired after one season in NYC and now coaches the Lions.
On Sunday, NYCFC got the upper hand in this head-to-head series, dominating Orlando, 3-0 off two David Villa goals and a Rodney Wallace strike. It was only NYCFC's second time ever beating Orlando, and here are our takeaways:
Reinhold MatayReinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Kaka got caught red-handed and it made it tough for Orlando
New York City FC put Orlando under pressure early and, in just the 13th minute, Kaka was forced to make a decision about how desperately he should try to get away with cutting out a cross into the box. He floated his arm out to block a Rodney Wallace ball and referee Mark Geiger pointed to the spot. Orlando City coach Jason Kreis later called it harsh, but the video evidence was pretty unequivocal. David Villa converted the PK and it put Orlando under immediate pressure, forcing them to have to try to battle back. But Orlando didn't look up for it and it was downhill from there.
Kim KlementKim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Villa: Penalty-scoring machine
David Villa scored another penalty kick on Sunday, and now, since he joined MLS in 2015, he has led the league in converted penalties at 13 out of 15. While some people might debate whether PKs should count toward a Golden Boot, he very nearly earned the award last season, scoring 23 goals in 32 matches, five of them penalties. He had to settle instead for the MVP award and there's no doubt his precision from the spot didn't hurt his case to win the award.
His finish, of course, on his non-penalty goal of the match, which you can watch here, was pretty nice as well.
Adam HungerAdam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Ring was key for NYCFC in winning the midfield battle
NYCFC dominated Orlando largely by controlling possession in the central midfield and not giving up the ball. One of the key figures in doing that was Alex Ring, who was a physical, aggressive presence on Sunday, much like he has been all season. His work rate allows NYCFC to steal possession and move quickly on the counter, which tends to favor the deadly finishing of David Villa up top. NYCFC leads the league in average possession, and Ring is a big reason why, which is why he was named our key player of NYCFC so far this season.
Adam HungerAdam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Wallace showed why he's been underrated
Portland Timbers fans will remember Rodney Wallace as a key player in the team's 2015 MLS Cup run, but elsewhere in the league, Wallace was a player that mostly went under the radar. He joined NYCFC this season with little fanfare after spending 2016 abroad, but he's been quietly solid – and he was arguably one of the best players on the pitch Sunday. It was his cross that forced the handball for the first goal, and then he came back in the 35th minute to score, doubling NYCFC's lead, which you can watch here.
Trevor RuszkowskiTrevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Spor
Orlando needs a backup penalty kick-taker to Kaka
Kaka was subbed off in the 60th minute and soon after, Orlando was awarded a penalty kick. It was a huge opportunity for the Lions to get back in the game, but their usual PK-taker, Kaka, was not on the field. Cyle Larin, who has been on fire for the Lions this season, stepped up to the spot instead. It was his first penalty attempt in MLS and, well, it did not go well. He rushed to strike it as soon as the whistle blew and it hit the post and went out. The Lions needs a better contingency plan for penalties when Kaka is not on the field – Larin didn't look comfortable at the spot and it cost Orlando a possible comeback.
USA TODAY SportsKim Klement
A fortress no more in Orlando
The Lions started winning five of five matches in their new stadium to start the season. Then they tied last week. Now, they've finally lost, ending the streak of success in their brand-new home. But, on the bright side, they enjoyed their seventh consecutive sellout since opening the new stadium at least.