Orlando City throw away points in Atlanta with 1-1 draw

Atlanta United 1 Orlando City Soccer 1, Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia - 29th July 2017(Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

A late strike by Atlanta’s Hector Villalba in stoppage time denied Orlando City consecutive away victories at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday.

For much of the game Orlando were on the back foot as Atlanta had been in Orlando eight days earlier and just as it looked like the visitors were going to take all three points, a momentary lapse in concentration cost the Lions two valuable points in the race for the play offs.

Atlanta United 1 Orlando City Soccer 1, Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia - 29th July 2017(Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

Two minutes into second-half stoppage time, Orlando’s defence were caught ball watching and Villalba took Yamil Asad’s through ball into the box and slipped a low finish beyond Orlando goalkeeper Joe Bendik. The goal was his 10th of the season and no-one can say Orlando weren’t aware of the danger he imposed given he scored the game winner in Orlando with a magnificent strike the previous week.

Atlanta United 1 Orlando City Soccer 1, Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia - 29th July 2017(Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

“Pleased with the performance again. Pleased with the work that the guys are putting in, the belief and commitment, all these sorts of good things,” Lions head coach Jason Kreis (pictured above) said. “It’s a travesty that we have to make a mistake at the end to not walk away from here with all three points. Late goals that happen in games are always down to a lack of fitness or lack of focus,” Orlando City coach Jason Kreis said. “I think this team is very fit, so I don’t believe it is fitness. I think it has to do with a little bit of focus, and how we’re managing the game as well. I don’t know if at the end of the game we were making the best decisions with the ball to keep it and cause them problems. I felt like we were more than happy to give it back to them and defend for long stretches, which is going to hurt you against a team as dangerous as Atlanta.

Atlanta United 1 Orlando City Soccer 1, Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia - 29th July 2017(Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

Orlando started the game the better of the two teams and almost took the lead from an unlikely source as full back Scott Sutter rattled the crossbar in the 2nd minute with Atlanta keeper Brad Guzan well beaten.  Atlanta fought back and twice hit the woodwork in the first half themselves. Both times, in the 15th and 39th minutes, Miguel Almirón strikes just failed to find the net and the second one was particularly costly for the home side.

Atlanta United 1 Orlando City Soccer 1, Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia - 29th July 2017(Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

From the resultant goal kick. Cyle Larin did well to control the ball and lay it off into the path of Kaká who drilled a swirling world class right footed strike into the top right hand corner with Guzan well beaten. It was the captain’s fourth goal and Larin’s second assist of the season.

Half Time: Atlanta 0 Orlando 1

Backed by a rowdy crowd of 45,009, Atlanta came out in the second half determined to take the game to Orlando and three times Miguel Almirdon had attempts on target but none of them found the net.

The game was supposed to be Atlanta United’s first game in Mercedes-Benz Stadium but because of unfinished construction work it turned out to be the final MLS game at Bobby Dodd Stadium. The late goal that snatched a point for the home side sees them leave with a record of 6-2-1.

Atlanta United 1 Orlando City Soccer 1, Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia - 29th July 2017(Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

The match saw Dom Dwyer (pictured above on the right) make his Orlando City Major League Soccer debut after joining the squad on Tuesday from Sporting Kansas City. The striker started alongside Cyle Larin (pictured above center) for the Lions as Kreis favored a 4-4-2 formation.

Full Time: Atlanta 1 Orlando 1

Dwyer and Kaká will head to Chicago to represent the Lions on Wednesday, Aug. 2, in the 2017 MLS All-Star game as the league’s top talents face off against Real Madrid at Soldier Field at 8:30 p.m. ET. The game will broadcast on FS1, UniMás, TSN, and TVA Sports.

City will then continue its three-game road trip when it heads to Montreal on Saturday, Aug. 5, for a 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff. The Lions then head to New York City before returning home to host Columbus on Saturday, Aug. 19.

Lineups/Substitutions:

Atlanta United FC – GK Brad Guzan, D Greg Garza (Mikey Ambrose 77’), Leandro González Pirez, ⓒ Michael Parkhurst (Kevin Kratz 76’), Anton Walkes, M Jeff Larentowicz, Carlos Carmona, Yamil Asad, Miguel Almirón, Julian Gressel (Brandon Vázquez 61’), F Héctor Villalba

Substitutes Not Used: GK Kyle Reynish, D Tyrone Mears, M Chris McCann, Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu

Orlando City SC – GK Joe Bendik, D Donny Toia, Jonathan Spector, José Aja, Scott Sutter, M Antonio Nocerino, Cristian Higuita (Richie Laryea 76’), Will Johnson, ⓒ Kaká, F Cyle Larin (Giles Barnes 62’), Dom Dwyer (Carlos Rivas 72’)

Substitutes Not Used: GK Josh Saunders, D Tommy Redding, M Servando Carrasco, Luis Gil

Attendance: 45,009

More photos at www.FloridaLeisurePhotography.com

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