Apr 21, 2018; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando City forward Dom Dwyer (14) celebrates with teammates after scoring against the San Jose Earthquakes during the second half at Orlando City Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
At some point, Orlando City rookie Chris Mueller’s stellar play will stop being a surprise.
If he keeps up his recent form and keeps dazzling crowds in Orlando City Stadium the way he has during his last two home matches, he’ll be a household name in no time.
At the very least, the San Jose Earthquakes won’t forget him any time soon.
He made an early impression on the Quakes Saturday night in front of an announced sellout crowd of 25,527. Less than two minutes in — 63 seconds to be exact — he scored his third goal in three matches to give Orlando City a 1-0 lead.
The match definitely got interesting toward the end, but the Lions didn’t let up and extended their win streak to four games with a 3-2 victory over San Jose.
The first goal, which was the fastest in Orlando City’s MLS history, set the tone for the rest of the match.
Mueller was on the end of a gorgeous ball from midfielder Yoshi Yotún and shed left back Shea Salinas to set up a one-on-one with goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell. Mueller beat Tarbell from a tough angle and immediately had the crowd in Orlando City stadium clamoring for more.
“It was great to get on the scoresheet early,” Mueller said. “It was one of our main team objectives to start the game strong and to get a first goal at home so to be able to do that was fantastic.”
They got their wish in the 35th minute. Striker Dom Dwyer found Yotún after some solid hold-up play near the halfway line, and Yotún once again found Mueller for another one-on-one with Tarbell.
Instead of firing another shot, Mueller chose to pass to Sacha Kljestan in the six-yard box, and the veteran midfielder finished the sequence to double Orlando City’s lead and give Mueller an assist.
“I think most young guys would take the shot themselves,” Kljestan said. “He knew if he laid it across in a good pass, it was an easy tap-in. He knows I would do the same for him. Probably would have killed him if he would have shot and missed at that point.
“Unbelievable pass. The kid has done really well lately. Last three games, he’s really made a difference in all three games getting goals. Happy for him, he’s doing great.”
Orlando City took a 2-0 lead into halftime, but San Jose coach Mikael Stahre was impressed with the effort of his club.
“The first 45 minutes was actually the best 45 minutes so far this season,” Stahre told Pro Soccer USA after the match. “I think we possessed the ball much better than in previous games … and we were able to create some chances.”
Dwyer scored his fifth goal in four matches to give Orlando City a 3-0 lead in the 69th minute. Justin Meram, who came on as a sub for Stéfano Pinho in the 60th minute, played a solid ball through to Dwyer, who went around Tarbell and then finished inside the far post.
It was Dwyer’s 100th career goal and he scored it with his wife, Orlando Pride forward Sydney Leroux, and their son, 1-year-old Cassius Dwyer, in attendance.
“There was never a doubt in my mind it was going to come tonight,” Dwyer said of the goal. “It was meant to be. It’s a special occasion. It was nice to have my family here, got to have my son on the field afterwards, it’s a special day and I’m glad to share it with them and very thankful to be a part of this team and a part of this group.”
San Jose got two goals back in the final 25 minutes of the match, both off corner kicks. Florian Jungwirth put way goals in the 78th and 90th minutes of the match.
“I would say that to give up the number of dead-ball goals we have this year, we’re extremely disappointed in that,” Orlando City coach Jason Kreis said. “But it’s not just the coaches. I just walked out of the locker room [filled with players] who are very, very disappointed not to have obtained all of our objectives all of our objectives tonight.”
Orlando City (4-2-1, 13 points) will get a chance to sharpen its defense when it takes on the Colorado Rapids next Sunday in Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.