Lions falter in first CCL match hosted by a Florida club

By Official Florida FC

A Florida first took place this week when Mexican superpower Tigres visited Orlando’s Exploria Stadium.

Tigres has been the most successful team in Liga MX over the last decade, winning three Apertura titles, one Clausura title, a Copa MX, Campeones Cup and the 2020 CONCACAF Champions League.

Though their attack had not produced much in the run-up prior to Wednesday night’s match, with three goals in its last six matches, they had enough quality to start with Mexican international Diego Lainez on the bench.

Tigres held on for a 1-1 draw to advance on road goals.

Orlando City head coach Oscar Pareja following the Lions’ elimination from the CONCACAF Champions League. | Official Florida FC

The Mexicans could have put the tie away in the first half, but Orlando City goalie Pedro Gallese turned in a Man of the Match performance to keep the Lions within a goal. Gallese finished with six  saves, including a ninth minute save to deny a shot bound for the side-netting.

Sebastian Cordova’s right-footed shot got under Gallese in the 21st minute to give Tigres the road goal it needed. It was the midfielder’s first since October.

Orlando City created opportunities, but struggled to get the final touch to truly trouble Tigres keeper Nahuel Guzman.

Ercan Kara came off the bench to provide a lifeline with an 90th minute bicycle kick. But, the Lions left it too late. Tigres sucked the air out of the game in stoppage time through gamesmanship and tactical fouls.

After 180 minutes against one of the most consistent clubs on the continent, Orlando City left the Champions League with two draws and one elimination.