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ORLANDO — Cyle Larin scored two goals to help keep Orlando City’s playoff hopes alive as the Lions defeated New York City FC 2-1 in front of 43,179 fans in the final home game of the regular season on Friday.
Orlando City trailed 1-0 to start the second half, but two goals by a persistent Larin re-gave the Lions the lead in a game that meant everything for Orlando’s playoff hopes.
Larin scored his first goal of the game on a header from a Corey Ashe cross into the box in the 62nd minute. The rookie forward then gave Orlando City the lead when he finished off an Adrian Winter assist while the two were 2-on-1 with New York City goalkeeper Josh Saunders.
The go-ahead goal was controversial because NYCFC had a player down on the field, which kept Orlando’s attacking players onside during the counter attack. Orlando City elected not play the ball out of bounds and as a result got a breakaway that resulted in Larin’s second goal of the game.
Larin received a standing ovation from the crowd when he came out of the game in the 80th minute. The first-year player out of UConn now has 17 goals for the season and sits in a tie for fourth with David Villa and Robbie Keane.
New York City FC’s goal came from Kwame Watson-Siriboe when he put the ball in the back of the net off of a deflection during stoppage time at the end of the first half.
“Keep it going,” said Orlando City head coach Adrian Heath about what he told his players at halftime. “Keep playing the same way, I obviously believed that if we kept playing the same way we would get a goal.”
Tally Hall left the game in the 80th minute when he hurt his right knee and was substituted off for Josh Ford. Hall had been coming off an ACL injury to his right knee that he suffered last season with Houston.
With the win Orlando City improve their record to 12-13-8, 44 points and keep their playoff hopes alive as they sit one point behind the Montreal Impact in the Eastern Conference standings going into Saturday’s set of games.
“Take it to the last game,” said Heath following the game. “I think that Montreal will have to win their last two games to stop us because we’ll win next week as well.”
The Lions are now on a five-game winning streak dating back to September 15 against Sporting KC.
“It’s high, it’s pretty high,” said Larin about the team’s confidence going into the regular season finale. “But it wouldn’t be up there if we didn’t work hard and work as a team and I think that’s the most important thing, we work as a team and if we can do everything as a team we win games like this.”
Orlando City’s next game will be against the Philadelphia Union on Sunday, Oct. 25 on the road. Orlando will need a win on Sunday and a little help from the New England Revolution and Toronto FC against Montreal over their final two games in order to make the playoffs.
The most likely scenario in which Orlando City make the playoffs is if they get three points against Philadelphia and Montreal manage only one point in their final two games.
Also worth noting Orlando City finished the regular season averaging 32,847 fans at home, setting a new MLS expansion record.