Orlando City remains unbeaten at home after draw with Sporting Kansas

Orlando City Soccer 2 Sporting Kansas City 2, Orlando City Stadium, Orlando, 13th May 2017 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

After two losses on the road Orlando City returned home on Saturday evening in the hope of extending their victory sequence to six straight wins at Orlando City Stadium.

Orlando City Soccer 2 Sporting Kansas City 2, Orlando City Stadium, Orlando, 13th May 2017 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

Latif Blessing (pictured above), standing in for Dom Dwyer who collected his fifth yellow card last weekend against Minnesota, took most of the headlines as he scored two vital goals for the visitors who enjoyed the lion’s share of possession.

Orlando City Soccer 2 Sporting Kansas City 2, Orlando City Stadium, Orlando, 13th May 2017 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

Blessing opened the scoring in the 9th minute as he tapped home a Gerso Fernandes low cross after the ball bounced off Matt Besler into his path. Orlando grabbed an equaliser in the 16th minute as Cyle Larin (pictured above) added his seventh goal of the season from an inviting cross on the left hand side from Carlos Rivas.

Orlando City Soccer 2 Sporting Kansas City 2, Orlando City Stadium, Orlando, 13th May 2017 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

The Lion’s then grabbed the lead in the 26th minute as they moved the ball down the left hand side to the influential Rivas. He fired in another cross aimed for Larin but this time it was slightly over hit and found Scott Sutter. Sutter then knocked the ball back into the box towards Kaká who took two delightful touches with his chest before slotting home a curved shot just inside the right hand post.

Half Time: Orlando City 2 Sporting Kansas City 1

Orlando City Soccer 2 Sporting Kansas City 2, Orlando City Stadium, Orlando, 13th May 2017 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

The visitors started the second half with most of the possession (61.7%) and looked the most likely to score. They were denied a penalty in the 69th minute as Blessing fell too easily when inside the box after Sutter touched his shoulder. The 20 year old from Ghana made amends five minutes later as he scored his second goal of the game after good work from Fernandes. The Bissau-Guinean drove past Toia on the right hand side and fed the ball back to Benny Feilhaber. Feilhaber took a shot that Bendik could only palm out and Blessing made no mistake with the tap in.

Orlando City Soccer 2 Sporting Kansas City 2, Orlando City Stadium, Orlando, 13th May 2017 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

A minute later, Orlando thought they’d regained the lead as Will Johnson fired over a corner that Aja rose well to head home. The goal was chalked off though as the assistant referee decided the ball had gone out of play before bending back in.

In the 79th minute more controversy followed as Blessing cut into the Orlando box and went past Aja only to fall down. The youngster was promptly booked for simulation by referee Ricardo Salazar and then making matters worse he enraged the crowd as he walked back towards the center circle and comically fell down with a supposed injury. The referee played on but Orlando sportingly put the ball out of play when on the attack.

After that both teams seemed to settle for a point a piece and the game ended all square.

Orlando City Soccer 2 Sporting Kansas City 2, Orlando City Stadium, Orlando, 13th May 2017 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

“Difficult game. Really difficult game against a really quality opponent in my opinion,” Lions Head Coach Jason Kreis said. “Really pleased with the guys’ effort, work rate, commitment, togetherness. I have to say at the end of the day a draw was a fair result and pleased to take the point. Our objective is always going to be to have three points, to go after three points at home, but sometimes we’ll have to settle for one.”

Lineups/Substitutions:

Orlando City SC – GK Joe Bendik, D Donny Toia, Jonathan Spector, José Aja, Scott Sutter, M Antonio Nocerino, Cristian Higuita (Luis Gil 65’), Will Johnson, Ⓒ Kaká, F Cyle Larin, Carlos Rivas (Giles Barnes 64’)

Substitutes Not Used: GK Josh Saunders, D PC, Léo Pereira, M Servando Carrasco, Matías Pérez García

Sporting Kansas City – GK Tim Melia, D Graham Zusi, Ike Opara, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic (Saad Abdul-Salaam 90+3’), M Ilie Sanchez, Roger Espinoza, Latif Blessing (Soony Saad 82’), Jimmy Medranda (Soni Mustivar 86’), Gerso Fernandes, F Benny Feilhaber

Substitutes Not Used: GK Adrian Zendejas, D Kevin Ellis, M, F Cameron Porter, Daniel Salloi

Attendance: 25,527

More photos at www.FloridaLeisurePhotography.com

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