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At the end of the night the record book will show that Orlando City and Chicago Fire battled to a 1-1 draw. The Lions, though, will look back on an opportunity missed as they had a one man advantage for the best part of an hour but failed to capitalize.
The evening started well for the home side as Cyle Larin (pictured above) scored his second goal in as many games in the 4th minute in front of the 29,041 fans who had come out for an evening’s entertainment.
Orlando’s latest addition midfielder Antonio Nocerino (pictured above) made his debut in purple and recorded over 60 minutes in his first outing with Orlando.
The Lions controlled the first half possession stat of 67% possession but it was the Fire who showed how to do things when they snatched a 14th minute equalizer as John Goosen pumped a long ball forward for David Accam to latch onto after outpacing Seb Hines in the Orlando defence. Accam finished with a neat side foot to the right hand side of the goal.
The Fire had their backs to the wall for most of the evening after referee Ted Unkel brandished a red card to Josh Harrington (pictured above) following a wild tackle on Orlando captain for the night, Brek Shea.
In the second half, Orlando City continued to press with a handful of shots but simply didn’t have enough quality to find the go-ahead goal. The introduction of Hadji Barry in the 73rd minute re-energized the Lions’ attack, as he figured prominently in a few close attempts on goal, including some clever play between him and Molino. Pedro Ribeiro, who entered for Nocerino in the 63rd minute, was desperately unlucky to see a scorching left foot deflect off the frame while Larin also had an attempt denied by the woodwork following a great give-and-go with Molino in the penalty area.
“[We’re] obviously disappointed with the final score. Plenty of opportunities again tonight. I thought we were nearly good a lot of times,” said Orlando City SC Head Coach Adrian Heath. “I give [Chicago] great credit. They were well organized, always got the threat with the counterattack, and I don’t think that we were good enough. We’ve got to do better and we will do better. I can promise you that.”
Orlando City will head to the road for the first time in 2016 when it travels to New York City FC on March 18 for a 7 p.m. kickoff. After the match at Yankee Stadium, the Lions return to the Orlando Citrus Bowl on April 3 to host the Portland Timbers. Tickets to all City home matches are available at OrlandoCitySC.com or by calling 855-ORL-CITY.
Orlando City SC – GK Joe Bendik, D Rafael Ramos, Tommy Redding, Seb Hines, Brek Shea, M Servando Carrasco, Cristian Higuita (Hadji Berry 73’), Antonio Nocerino (Pedro Ribeiro 63’), F Adrian Winter, Kevin Molino, Cyle Larin
Substitutes: GK Earl Edwards, Jr., D Kevin Alston, Luke Boden, Aurelien Collin, M Hadji Barry, Harrison Heath, Pedro Ribeiro
Chicago – GK Matt Lampson, D Jonathan Campbell, Michael Harrington, Johan Kappelhof, Joao Meira, M David Accam, Arturo Alvarez (Rodrigo Ramos 87’), John Goossens (Razvan Cocis 73’), Matt Polster, Brandon Vincent, F Kennedy Igboananike (Joey Calistri 84’)
Substitutes: GK Sean Johnson, Rodrigo Ramos, M Joey Calistri, Razvan Cocis, Nick LaBrocca, Michael Stephens, F Alex Morrell
More photos at www.FloridaLeisurePhotography.com