ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando City marked the beginning of its tenure in its new stadium with a win over New York City FC.
The Lions, however, had to play most of the game without team captain Ricardo Kaká, who left the game in the opening minutes with a leg injury.
Kaká, the 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year, led the team in assists (10) and was second in goals (nine) last season. However, his replacement, the newly acquired Giles Barnes, would step-up to help in the game's only goal.
In the 15th minute Cyle Larin slipped a header between goalkeeper Sean Johnson and the right post. Barnes, who was acquired in February from Vancouver and led Houston in scoring in 2013 and 2014, perfectly placed a cross from the top-left of the box and Larin put it away.
Larin, who scored an MLS rookie-record 17 goals in 2015, has 32 goals in 54 career games.
Goalkeeper Joe Bendik had seven saves to keep a clean-slate in the Lions home opener. Bendik, who had five shutouts and allowed an MLS-high 60 goals against in 34 starts last season, made a sliding stop on a breakaway by Alexander Ring in the 32nd.
After the game, both coaches and players credited the raucous crowd with playing a big role in the win. "Every time I've been at a game in Orlando, I'm absolutely wowed by the fans and I think tonight was no different, and I think that they were a huge part of the three points," said coach Jason Kreis.
"I don't think it's an overstatement to say it was electric in there. The fans were brilliant throughout the entire game," said newly acquired defenseman Jonathan Spector, adding, "I think the fans were amazing and we're happy that we're sort of able to repay that support."
Next, the Lions will take on the New England Revolution on March 11 at the Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, at 2 p.m.