BRONX, N.Y. — Orlando City had its chances Saturday night.
The opportunities were there for the Lions to end their losing skid and leave Yankee Stadium with at least a point.
The chances just weren’t converted into goals.
A depleted Orlando City squad went into Yankee Stadium and continued its freefall. After setting a franchise record with six consecutive victories, the Lions set a new club record with their fourth MLS loss in a row, a 3-0 defeat at the hands of New York City FC in front of an announced crowd of 22,103.
“What to say that hasn’t been said already,” coach Jason Kreis said after the match.
“Another game where I feel like we’re doing a lot of really good things, but at the decisive moments, we’re getting killed.”
NYCFC opened the scoring four minutes after Orlando City had a golden chance go off the post. Defender Anton Tinnerholm found an overlapping Ismael Tajouri-Shradi in the penalty area and Tajouri-Shradi got around Orlando City left back Donny Toia and fired a shot inside the far post.
Toia came sliding in to defend Tajouri-Shradi, which left the forward open to shoot. Toia was starting in place of Mohamed El-Munir, who Kreis said is battling fatigue related to fasting for Ramadan.
“He’s really been struggling with it,” Kreis said. “People don’t know that, but he’s been struggling. I think, cumulatively, he has a high level of fatigue now. There’s absolutely no way he can make it through all these games.
“Donny’s been playing extremely well in training sessions and has been making positive contributions and we believe in all of our players. We keep saying that. When we make changes, it’s not necessarily about something wrong with the player that’s going on.”
It was the 11th time this season Orlando City conceded the first goal.
New York City FC midfielder Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (29) celebrates his goal against Orlando City SC during the first half at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Tajouri-Shradi put another goal on the scoresheet in the 79th minute off a free kick. Similar to a free kick that went in for D.C. United in Orlando City’s season opener, it was taken at a low angle and bounced in without anyone touching it.
“We’re still looking for just those moments of decisiveness when we really need them,” Kreis said.
“I think we’re really close. I really do. I think there’s just no way forward for us except to continue to believe. Continue to work hard. Continue to do the same things we’re doing. And then, maybe, you know, one thing breaks for us and then a lot of things will break for us.”
The golden chance that went off the post was a shot from distance from Josué Colmán, who was playing up top with star striker Dom Dwyer out due to a lower body injury. Sacha Kljestan found Colmán at the top of the penalty area and Colmán’s curling shot bounced off the post.
It was the first of two times the woodwork kept Colmán from scoring. He had a shot bounce off the crossbar in the 74th minute. It was an active night for Colmán, who was starting in his second consecutive match.
“First of all, I’m disappointed about the result,” Colmán said through a translator. “It was a tough match, but I know that together we’re going to move forward. Unfortunately, I hit the post. I hit the crossbar. I know that we’re going to work hard to get the results, moving forward.”
Kljestan was also involved in what would be Orlando City’s most heartbreaking chance of the evening. Rookie Chris Mueller went down on the right side of the area early in the second half and earned a penalty.
Kljestan — who converted a penalty kick against the Portland Timbers — bounced his attempt off the post. Midfielder Uri Rosell immediately came up to console the two-time MLS assist king and Orlando City remained down a goal in the 49th minute.
“It sucks,” Kljestan said about the club’s chances that went off the woodwork. “Got to force the goalie to make saves. We’re doing everything — we’re trying to do everything we’re supposed to do. We’ve got more possession than the other teams. In some big moments, we’ve come up short.
“Tonight on my penalty I came up short.”
By the end of the match, the Pigeons were seemingly creating chances at will. Maxi Moralez put the exclamation point on NYCFC’s victory by putting a shot past Orlando City goalkeeper Joe Bendik — after back-to-back shots went off the crossbar for NYCFC.
“I think the 3-0 is too harsh on Orlando because they had chances to score a few goals and I would say the 3-0 doesn’t really reflect the game,” said NYCFC coach Patrick Vieira. “I can understand Jason can be disappointed, but at times you need to have some luck and the luck tonight was on our side.”
Orlando City (6-6-1, 19 points) continues its road swing with a match in U.S. Open Cup play against Miami United in Hialeah. After that, the Lions fly to Vancouver to take on the Whitecaps.