Jacksonville Sports Day

MLS: Akindele Nets Game-Winner as Lions Defeat Toronto 1-0 at Exploria Stadium

ORLANDO – Orlando City SC (3-0-3, 12 points) extended its Club-record unbeaten stretch to start an MLS campaign on Saturday night, defeating Toronto FC (1-3-2, 5 points) by a score of 1-0 at Exploria Stadium for its sixth-consecutive result of the year.

Tesho Akindele scored the eventual game-winner in the 12th minute of play, now having played a role in all three of the Lions’ deciding finishes in 2021.

Silvester van der Water recorded his first start for the Lions in the match, logging 59 minutes and earning the assist on Akindele’s game-winner. Robin Jansson also made his first start of the year on the night, contributing to a defense that kept its fourth clean sheet of the campaign to already match the side’s 2020 total just six fixtures into the year.

Goalkeeper Pedro Gallese has served in net for all four of City’s shutouts in 2021, a number that matches his total in all competitions from a year ago.

“First of all, a great three points against a very good rival. Today we showed a lot of character. We’re learning how to get through moments when the other team is having the better initiative, but we showed as well for many moments the way we do it, how we can create options and decide games,” said Head Coach Oscar Pareja. “We could have been more polished in our finishing, but we have to recognize that Toronto has some options too and highlight the performance of our team defense. Everybody working the way we needed when they were pushing us and that just makes us enjoy the three points even more.”

The Lions head out on the road to take on the New York Red Bulls on Sat., May 29 at Red Bull Arena. Kickoff for that match is slated for 1 p.m. ET.

Match Notes: Akindele scored his second goal of the year, trailing only Nani on the squad. Akindele has contributed to all three of the Lions’ game-winners in 2021, with two deciding finishes and an assist on Mauricio Pereyra’s game-winner in D.C. a week ago…the Lions extended their Club-record of consecutive results to start a campaign on Saturday night, now 3-0-3 through six fixtures in 2021….van der Water made his first start as a Lion on the night, earning his first goal contribution for the Club with the assist on Akindele’s 12th minute finish….Gallese registered his fourth clean sheet of the season, recording five saves to shutout Toronto including a pair of aerial stops late to deny the Reds. El Pulpo’s four clean sheets bests his regular-season total from a year ago and matches his total in all competitions from 2020…..City’s four clean sheets to start the campaign matches its regular season total from 2020.
Kyle Smith recorded his first goal contribution of the season with the secondary assist on Akindele’s finish, marking the second total assist of his MLS career. The match also served as his 45th regular-season appearance as a Lion and his 30th start….PINSareja’s three changes to the starting XI served as the most between two matches throughout the campaign thus far, with Robin Jansson notching his first start of the year along with Silvester van der Water. Chris Mueller reentered the fold as well to account for the third change.

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