Orlando City SC midfielder Chris Mueller (R) scored two first-half goals in a 3-1 win against New York City FC Tuesday in Orlando, Fla. Photo courtesy of Orlando City SC
July 15 (UPI) -- Orlando SC became the first team to clinch a spot in the round of 16 in the MLS Is Back Tournament after a 3-1 group-stage triumph over New York City FC.
Chris Mueller scored two first-half goals in the win Tuesday at ESPN's Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla. The Lions beat Inter Miami CF 2-1 in the first match of the tournament July 8 in Orlando. They have seven points atop Group A. The Philadelphia Union also clinched a knockout spot out of Group A with a win Tuesday against Inter Miami.
Orlando and Philadelphia play Monday, with the winner able to clinch Group A and a better seed in the knockout round.
"I think we were looking forward to another opportunity to play a game," Mueller told reporters. "I think we were excited to get out and knew what we wanted to do going into the game. We had a gameplan and wanted to come out with a lot of energy to try and catch them in the first 15 minutes."
Mueller helped Orlando get started early with a score in the fourth minute. Orlando midfielder Joao Moutinho stood about 40 yards from the New York net for a free kick to spark the sequence. He then stepped up and curled a long pass over the defense and toward the far post. Mueller caught up to the pass and smashed a volley into the right side of the net.
The Orlando midfielder doubled the lead just six minutes later. Orlando defender Ruan lifted a cross from the right side to the opposite field during that play. The ball fell into the box and found Dom Dwyer. The Orlando striker then headed the ball to the far post to find a wide-open Mueller. Mueller brought the ball down before he dribbled around New York goalie Sean Johnson and buried a shot into the middle of the net.
New York midfielder Jesus Medina cut the Orlando lead in half in the 38th minute. Striker Heber lobbed a pass to the top of the Orlando box during that play. Medina touched the ball down with his chest before he smacked a half-volley effort into the right side of the net to beat Orlando keeper Pedro Gallese.
Orlando's Tesha Akindele scored the final goal of the match in the 81st minute. The Lions striker was at the right post of New York's goal when a deflected ball fell to his area. He finished the play with a head ball into the empty net.
Orlando and Philadelphia match up at 8 p.m. EDT Monday in Orlando.