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In its first Major League Soccer (MLS) game in almost three weeks, Orlando City SC and San Jose Earthquakes shared the spoils on an emotional night in Central Florida with an exciting 2-2 draw.
In front of the largest crowd since the opening game of the season, Orlando extended its run to 14 games at home unbeaten but that was of minor importance as the club and community remembered those lost the previous weekend.
The match was dedicated to the 49 victims of the tragic shooting at Pulse night club as well as singer Christina Grimmie who was gunned down less than 48 hours before. A section of 50 seats was marked with rainbow colored balloons in remembrance of those who had passed away. The 37,194 in attendance waved rainbow flags while each section of the lower bowl was also colored by fans wearing red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet clothing to reflect the colors of a rainbow.
On the field the players wore Orlando United T-shirts during warmups along with rainbow armbands and the game shirts for both Orlando City SC and San Jose had an additional Orlando United patch sown onto them. The corner flags were also changed to show support on the field and the game was paused in the 49th minute for a moment of silence.
Seb Hines and Júlio Baptista scored their second goals of the season to twice give the Lions the lead but they were unable to hold on for the three points.
“[The players] worked really, really hard. They never gave in, kept pushing. For me, it’s been probably the most emotional evening I’ve had in football,” Lions Head Coach Adrian Heath said. “I thought the players responded really well. It’s been a great evening for Orlando – not the football club, just Orlando as a city. I think our supporters, I always say it, they never cease to amaze me. We’ve got an incredible supporter base – the best support in the League. They’ve done it again this evening.”
Orlando started the game well, controlling long spells of possession while thwarting any San Jose attack. Kevin Molino and Cyle Larin looked especially dangerous as both created several threatening first half opportunities.
Orlando City opened the scoring in the second half as defender Seb Hines headed home in the 66th minute past San Jose goalkeeper David Bingham.
The Lions continued pressuring for a second goal and held on to their lead for almost 20 minutes, but San Jose equalized in the 86th minute when Shea Salinas lofted a ball to Chad Barrett in the box, who neatly headed into the back of the net.
Heath then turned to his supersubs Júlio Baptista and Carlos Rivas to good effect. As the game entered injury time Rivas served a ball to Baptista in the box. “The Beast” took a superb first touch and then fired an unstoppable volley into the top right corner of the net that Bingham did well to get a hand on.
San Jose pressed for another equalizer and cruelly found it with the last touch of the game. With the ball bouncing around the edge of the box, Salinas found space and fired it into the net in the fourth minute of stoppage time to give the visitors a point.
Orlando City returns to action on Saturday, June 25, when it hosts Toronto FC. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. E.T.
Orlando City SC – GK Joe Bendik, D Kevin Alston, Seb Hines, Tommy Redding, Luke Boden (Júlio Baptista 62’), M Servando Carrasco, Cristian Higuita, Brek Shea, Adrian Winter (Carlos Rivas 87’), F Cyle Larin (Antonio Nocerino 78’), Kevin Molino
Substitutes Not Used: GK Earl Edwards Jr., D Rafael Ramos, David Mateos, M Harrison Heath
San Jose Earthquakes – GK David Bingham, D Kofi Sarkodie, Marvel Wynne, Victor Bernárdez, Shaun Francis (Chad Barrett 78’), M Alberto Quintero (Shea Salinas 62’), Fatai Alashe (Innocent 78’), Anibal Godoy, Matías Pérez García, F Quincey Amarikwa, Simon Dawkins
Substitutes Not Used: GK Bryan Meredith, D Jordan Stewart, M Cordell Cato, Tommy Thompson
More photos at www.FloridaLeisurePhotography.com