MLS: Orlando City Starts Season with Back-to-Back Clean Sheets

ORLANDO, Fla. (Florida Sports Wire) – Orlando City SC (1-0-1, 4 points) earned a point on Saturday night at Exploria Stadium after playing to a scoreless draw against FC Cincinnati. The match saw a trio of Lions record their first professional start for the Club.

Defender Abdi Salim and midfielder Gastón González each made their Club debut on the night, both starts, while Dagur Dan Thórhallsson earned the start after coming off the bench a week ago. Selected at No. 17 overall in the 2023 MLS SuperDraft out of Syracuse University, Salim held down the back line pairing with Rodrigo Schlegel in the first half and Robin Jansson in the second, helping his team earn their second-consecutive clean sheet of the season in as many games. For González, it served as his first professional minutes since suffering a torn ACL less than a year ago.   The shutout saw the Lions start a campaign with back-to-back clean sheets for the second-consecutive season, with Pedro Gallese starting in between the posts for all four. Gallese tallied four stops on Saturday night to keep the Orange and Blue off the board.

“Under the circumstances and obviously with the good rival we had in front of us, the guys put in the performance and competed, and we are proud. We are proud and we are happy to get the result. At home we need to win, but this team needs to be balanced with things,” said Head Coach Oscar Pareja. “When we cannot win it, we just need to get the result and work out with the point. We just have to take it. There were a lot of positive things that we recognized tonight, especially the players that are new with the team and making us better. We are proud. We will get ready now for our travel [to Monterrey for Concacaf Champions League] tomorrow and represent our city and our Club in an international competition on Tuesday.”

The Lions will now look ahead to Tuesday, March 7, as they are set to make the Club’s debut in the Concacaf Champions League matching up against Tigres UANL with the first leg being played in Monterrey, Mexico, and the return leg being played a week later at Exploria Stadium on Wednesday, March 15.

Match Notes:

  • City recorded back-to-back clean sheets to start a season for the second-consecutive campaign, with Pedro Gallese tallying his 23rd shutout in all competitions as a Lion.
  • With the start on Saturday night, Lions’ captain Mauricio Pereyra recorded his 100th appearance in all competitions for Orlando City.
  • Each earning the start in the match, defender Abdi Salim and midfielder Gastón González each made their first appearance for Orlando City, serving as the professional debut for the former and the MLS debut for the latter.
  • Dagur Dan Thórhallsson made his first start as a Lion after coming off the bench a week ago.
  • Head Coach Oscar Pareja made five changes to his starting lineup from a week ago, with González, Salim, Thórhallsson, Kyle Smith and Wilder Cartagena all getting the nod.
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