RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Nov. 15, 2015 – In an electric atmosphere of samba, singing and soccer, Orlando City SC added to its historic Major League Soccer (MLS) season today, becoming the first MLS team to ever compete in the historic Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. The Lions faced storied Brazilian Serie A side Clube de Regatas do Flamengo, before an announced crowd of 12,371. The match, at times, seemed more heated than a traditional friendly. In the end, Orlando City put in a strong performance, despite falling 1-0 to the home team.
Commenting on the team’s performance and the match, Head Coach Adrian Heath said, “Firstly, I was pleased with the way we played. Some of these guys haven’t played in three or four weeks since the season ended so I thought we put in a good performance. I’m quite disappointed we didn’t get a draw out of the game. Before the game, we would have probably settled for the score line but having now played the game, I thought we left a little bit out there. I thought we could have certainly gotten a draw out of it, and could have even won the game.
“There were some pleasing aspects,” Heath continued. “Some of the younger guys have done well again. Overall it was a great trip and I’m very proud. The Club should be proud that we’re the first team from America to come and play at Maracanã. If you’re my age, playing at this cathedral of football, when I grew up this was a special place – and it still is. I’m pleased for the players, they’ve enjoyed it. And I’m pleased we gave a good impression of Orlando City.”
The match capped a day-long celebration of Flamengo’s 120th anniversary. Prior to kickoff, there was a moment of silence in remembrance of the victims in the tragic events in Paris on Friday evening. The game began as each team cautiously tested the other, with most of the play concentrated in the midfield. The first shot of the game occurred in the 18th minute, as Lions’ forward Carlos Rivas fired a laser from outside the penalty area, forcing Flamengo GK Paulo Victor to make the save to his left.
Rivas continued to torment the Flamengo defense throughout the day, combining with Darwin Ceren in the 27th minute on a clever back-heeled give-and-go, resulting in another shot on goal that sailed just over the net. Orlando City’s best attempt came a minute later when Adrian Winter was fouled in the penalty area by Flamengo’s Alan Patrick. Forward Bryan Rochez stepped up to take the ensuing penalty kick, but his low effort was saved by the Brazilian goalkeeper.
Flamengo turned on the pressure in the last 15 minutes of the first half, with Alan Patrick recording the team’s second shot of the match - a hard attempt from inside the 18 that sailed just over the crossbar. Two minutes later, Forward Kayke fired an attempt at goal after receiving the ball from Everton, but his effort went wide.
The second half was marked with significantly higher intensity as the visiting Lions were eager to grab a win in the iconic stadium against Flamengo. The home side made sweeping substitutions in the friendly, with Orlando City introducing Pedro Ribeiro and David Mateos for Rochez and Collin, respectively.
The pace of play was palpably quicker, as both sides pressured in the attacking third. Flamengo’s Jaja fired a shot wide of the goal in the 51st minute, answered by Ribeiro’s low grasscutter of an attempt in the 58th minute, which went just wide of the net.
In the 63rd minute of play, Darwin Ceren played a hard tackle on Ayrton just outside the penalty area, drawing the second yellow card of the match. Ayrton’s free kick curled over the wall and landed just wide of the goal.
The intense play continued as Seb Hines was also cautioned following a hard tackle just outside the 18 in the 67th minute. This time, Luiz Antonio’s shot deflected off Ceren and found the back of the net to the left of Graca. Flamengo took the lead 1-0.
The Lions’ mounted pressure, registering a corner kick in the 77th minute that was cleared away. Rivas rifled a free kick from about 40 yards away in the 79th minute, but the first attempt bounced hard off the wall, and the second was saved by Cesar. Harrison Heath and Servando Carrasco enter the game for the Lions in the 80th minute, and the visitors continued to search for the equalizer. Ribeiro would have another attempt on net in the 83rd minute but it was saved by Cesar.
After four minutes of stoppage time were completed, the referee blew the final whistle marking the end of the match.