Jacksonville Sports Day

MLS: Nani Scores Equalizer in Lions’ 1-1 Draw at Sporting Kansas City

KANSAS CITY – Orlando City SC (0-0-2, 2 points) took a 1-1 draw against Sporting Kansas City (1-0-1, 4 points) on Friday night at Children’s Mercy Park, its second-consecutive such result to kick off the year.

Nani found the back of the net for City’s first goal of the year, flicking in a ball with the backheel off a rebound from a Chris Mueller strike. The Lions found the back of the net on two separate occasions, off the feet of Benji Michel and Andrés Perea, prior to their lone goal of the night but both were ruled offside, the former on the field and the latter via Video Review.

After both sides had a goal waved off in the half, the home side broke the deadlock just before the break after a misplay by the Orlando City defense, with Daniel Sallói winning the ball deep in the Lions’ half and cutting it across for Gianluca Busio in the box. Busio then took a touch before slotting his shot into the back of the net.

In a finish initially ruled offsides, the Lions were awarded their long-awaited goal on the night after Video Review off the foot of Nani. Kyle Smith made a run over the top, settling the ball before playing it across the face of goal, eventually falling to the foot of Chris Mueller after a Kansas City deflection. Mueller’s shot deflected off goalkeeper John Pulskamp, bouncing to Nani, who flicked it into the net with the backheel.

The Lions return home for their next two contests, first set to host FC Cincinnati on Saturday, May 1 at Exploria Stadium.

Match Notes: Nani scored his first goal of the season in the match, his 22nd across all competitions as a Lion.
Chris Mueller recorded his first assist of the year on the night, his 19th for the Club….Benji Michel made his 40th appearance in MLS regular-season action after signing a Homegrown contract with the Lions ahead of the 2019 campaign. Michel looked to have given the Lions the lead in the 36th minute, sending in a rebound off a shot from Nani, but was ruled offside….Andrés Perea looked to have scored his first goal in purple in the 49th minute off a Nani free kick, but was ruled offside after Video Review…..Alexander Alvarado and Joey DeZart made their respective 2021 debuts on the night, entering the match in the 77th and 88th minutes, respectively….Sporting KC looked to have taken the lead off a free kick in the 13th minute, but Nicolas Isimat-Mirin was ruled offside on the finish after Video Review.
Head Coach Oscar Pareja made two changes to his starting lineup from the Lions’ season opener, with Andrés Perea and Benji Michel featuring from the jump for the first time this year.

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