Jacksonville Sports Day

MLS: Orlando City Battle to Scoreless Draw in 2021 Opener Against Atlanta United FC

ORLANDO – Orlando City SC (0-0-1, 1 point) remained unbeaten in opening fixtures on Saturday afternoon, battling to a scoreless draw with Atlanta United FC (0-0-1, 1 point) to open its 2021 Major League Soccer regular season.

Forwards Alexandre Pato and Silvester van der Water each earned their Orlando City debuts in the match, the former serving as the lone newcomer in Head Coach Oscar Pareja’s starting lineup while the latter entered for the Brazilian forward in the 80th minute of play.

Goalkeeper Pedro Gallese registered the clean sheet on the day, the second-consecutive year he has done so to open a campaign after the Lions battled to a scoreless result against Real Salt Lake to kick off the season in 2020.

“At the outset, the two teams wanted to have the domination of the game, getting the ball, creating the sequences. I could see Atlanta [United] from the beginning, they had the initiative as well and then we were fighting for those sequences,” said Pareja “It was back and forth. In the second half I think we had more balance, in the middle creating more numerical superiority. We created options to finish the game and get the three points. We feel like it was much more with those two, three options created that we had, but the game was intense. We found a good team in front of us and we’re going to take that point and start our season this way.”

The Lions embark on their first road trip of the year, traveling to face Western Conference side Sporting Kansas City at Children’s Mercy Park on Friday, April 23.

Match Notes: City remained unbeaten in opening fixtures on the day, battling to a scoreless draw for the second-consecutive year to start its MLS campaign, now 1-0-6 in such contests….Goalkeeper Pedro Gallese registered three saves to register his first shutout of the year and fourth in regular-season play as a Lion….Silvester van der Water made his debut for the Lions, entering the match for Pato in the 80th minute of play….Alexandre Pato earned his City debut on the afternoon, the only newcomer in Head Coach Oscar Pareja’s starting lineup…The Lions played in front of a limited-capacity sellout crowd, with 11,503 fans occupying Exploria Stadium on Saturday.

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