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Another controversial finish to an Orlando City Soccer game saw the home team denied a victory and the full three points in front of 36,048 fans at the Orlando Citrus Bowl today.
The game also started in similar fashion as referee Baldomero Toledo awarded the home side a penalty just 13 seconds into the game. It took over a minute for the spot kick to be taken as New England protested the decision but Kaká stepped up and converted the opportunity down the middle for the fastest ever MLS penalty at 1 min 37 seconds. The previous record had been set in July 2015 when Federico Higuain netted for Columbus against Chicago Fire.
The penalty was drawn by home debutant and attacking forward, Julio Baptista (pictured above) who was clipped on his left heel by Revolution defender Je-Vaughn Watson after receiving a long ball from Brek Shea.
New England then forced themselves on the game and went close with efforts from Diego Fagundez in the 13th minute and Watson in the 30th minute. It was no surprise though when the visitors drew level in the 37th minute though a goal by Teal Bunbury (pictured above) who had found some space on the edge of the six yard box. His strike high into the roof of the net gave Joe Bendik in the Orlando goal no chance.
Half Time : 1-1
Orlando came out in the second half with a renewed determination to step up their game but it wasn’t until the introduction of Cyle Larin and Kevin Molino, playing in his 100th match for the Lions, for Adrian Winter and Carlos Rivas in the 60th minute that the team started to make real progress.
Roared on by the crowd, Orlando created several chances as Molino, Larin, Kevin Alston (pictured above), Seb Hines, Darwin Ceren and Antonio Nocerino all went close to putting the Lions ahead. The game seemed destined to end as a 1-1 draw but everything was turned on its head as the game entered stoppage time.
Molino (pictured above) secured his second goal of the season with a low, driven shot past Revs’ goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth in the 92nd minute after what looked suspiciously like a handball by the Trinidad international. The score looked like it would be the game-winner, but an extremely contentious call in the 94+ minute granted the Revolution a reprieve as referee Toldedo awarded a penalty kick that was duly converted by Lee Nguyen to level things up again.
Toledo (pictured below center), the referee with the most penalty calls in MLS, adjudged that late substitute Servando Carrasco had handled the ball. Initially, he gave the free kick outside the area but after what seemed like minutes of confusion, the 46 year old referee pointed to the penalty spot after consulting with his assistant referee whose view was actually further away from the incident than the referee himself. It was a remarkable display of inept refereeing as while the incident had indeed taken place in the penalty box, the ball had actually struck Carrasco on the shoulder.
Full Time: 2-2
“When you score that late, obviously you think you’ve won the game. I can’t fault the players for their effort in the second half, they played with a lot of passion,” said Orlando City Head Coach Adrian Heath (pictured below right.) “I thought when we had possession in their end of the field, we looked dangerous, we just didn’t keep it in [New England’s] half often.”
“I think we’ve left a few points on the table at home and, hopefully, that won’t come back to hurt us later in the year,” added Heath. “As I’ve said before, this is an intimidating place to come and play. I thought our fans were absolutely magnificent again today. That’s what football is about.”
“I don’t like to speak about the referee so this time I’m not going to speak about him. It’s not going to change the result, so he’s like us… he can make some mistake and I’m not going to talk about his mistakes,” said Orlando captain Kaká.
Kevin Molino said “Today is a big day for me making my 100th appearance for Orlando City. We didn’t get the other two points but we fought hard. We were unlucky on the call but it is part of the game, we all make mistakes the referee is a human being just like us.”
Orlando remains third in the Eastern Conference and now heads out for a two-game road swing, first traveling to face the New York Red Bulls on April 24 before facing the Revolution again, this time on April 30 at Gillette Stadium.
The Club returns to the Citrus Bowl on May 6, when it hosts the Red Bulls at 7 p.m. ET.
Orlando City SC – GK Joe Bendik, D Kevin Alston, Tommy Redding, Seb Hines, Brek Shea, M Darwin Cerén, Antonio Nocerino (Servando Carrasco 90’), F Adrian Winter (Kevin Molino 61’), Kaká, Carlos Rivas (Cyle Larin 61’), Julio Baptista
Substitutes: GK Earl Edwards, D David Mateos, Aurelien Collin, Luke Boden, M Servando Carrasco, Kevin Molino, F Cyle Larin
New England Revolution: GK Bobby Shuttleworth, D Chris Tierney, Je-Vaughn Watson, Andrew Farrell, London Woodberry, M Scott Caldwell (Daigo Kobayashi 76’), Gershon Koffie, Diego Fagundez (Charlie Davies 62’), Lee Nguyen, Kelyn Rowe, F Teal Bunbury
Substitutes: GK Brad Knighton, D Sambinha, M Zachary Herivaux, Daigo Kobayashi, Donnie Smith, F Charlie Davies, Femi Hollinger-Janzen
More photos at : www.FloridaLeisurePhotography.com