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Orlando City paid dearly for two defensive lapses against Eastern Conference leaders Philadelphia Union at Camping World Stadium tonight. The record books will show the game finished as a 2-2 draw but the reality is that either team could of won the game had they taken their chances.
The first half was a dull affair with the Union playing the better football but Orlando controlling the possession stats. Lion’s captain Kaká missed the best opportunity of the first half when he failed to convert a penalty in the 37th minute after he was brought down in the box by the visitors goalkeeper Andre Blake.
The Union started the second half the better team and deservedly opened the scoring in the 52nd minute when Tranquillo Barnetta slotted home a loose ball in the box. Ken Tribbett launched a ball from the right wing into the far side of the box, where Chris Pontius outjumped Orlando’s Tommy Redding and headed back across goal for the unmarked Barnetta to slot home from close range.
Two minutes later the Union should have scored a second goal from a well worked free kick on the left hand edge of the box. Only a superb block from Cyle Larin prevented C.J. Sapong from crossing to three unmarked teammates on the edge of the six yard box as the Orlando defence stood around like statues.
The visitors were scenting blood and had another opportunity to extend their lead in the 57th minute when Redding thwarted Sapong just as he was about to pull the trigger. Four minutes later the visitors should have had a penalty as David Mateos took down Warren Creavalle inside the box but match referee Sorin Stoica waved play on.
In an effort to spark the attack, Heath introduced Julio Baptista and Kevin Molino in the 67th minute and the move paid off immediately as Molino (pictured above) netted with his first touch. Against the run of play, Orlando found the equaliser as Kaká served the ball from close to the halfway line towards Larin in the box. Blake came out to punch the ball away but instead collided with two of his own defenders as well as Larin leaving Molino to apply a neat finish over the melee into the empty net for his fifth goal of the season.
Three minutes later, Kaká made a positive run and showed good strength along the left wing to get behind the Philadelphia defence to the byline. The captain crossed the ball to Larin inside the six-yard box and the striker chested the ball towards the net. Blake made a valiant attempt to save the ball but it was adjudged to have crossed over the line and the goal was given to the delight of 24,109 fans in the stadium.
The fans were still celebrating when the Union leveled things up in the 75th minute. The home side were caught dozing at a corner as the visitors took a short corner that gave Barnetta the freedom of Orlando to square a simple ball along the edge of the Lions six yard box. Joe Bendik, in the Orlando net, did his best to retrieve the situation but he could only parry the ball into the path of Ken Tribbett who flicked the loose ball into the back of the net.
Orlando then might have retaken the lead as Molino won a corner two minutes later on the right hand side. Kaká delivered an excellent ball for Baptista, who saw his goal bound header deflected just inches wide of the post by Redding.
The game was extremely open by this point and in the 80th minute Bendik pulled off a magnificent save from Fabian Herbers who unleashed a powerful shot from the edge of the box after Sapong did well to flick the ball on while under challenge from Redding.
The last ten minutes saw the visitors pour on the pressure as they won a series of free kicks around the edge of the box. Bendik was called into action again as he saved low down to his right from a Barnetta free kick from around 25 yards in the 83rd minute. A minute later some desperate home defensive work saw the ball scrambled clear from another free kick but it was the Union who breathed a sigh of relief as Orlando went straight back up the pitch to nearly score. Some good work by Kaká on the left saw Brek Shea released and he cut a ball back from the byline to Molino who fired over the bar from around 8 yards.
As the game came to a close Cristian Higuita picked up his fifth yellow card of the season for raising an arm on an opponent and that will now mean he misses Orlando’s next game in New York. Worse news was to come as the game entered four minutes of extra time as David Mateos was dismissed for what the referee saw as dangerous play when he went in for a challenge with a foot slightly raised on Herbers. A decision that Orlando may decide to appeal.
“It was never going to be easy tonight, having a game four days ago. I knew tonight was going to be tough. Fair dues to the players, they kept working and got the momentum going again,” Lions head coach Adrian Heath (pictured above) said. “As the game wore on, we seemed to be getting more momentum in the game. When [Kaká] went out wide left and we put Kevin on and Júlio [Baptista] came on, it was a little bit like the Montreal game [on Saturday]. We take a few chances with that system but, at home, sometimes it’s worth taking.”
Orlando City faces another short turnaround when it heads to Yankee Stadium on Sunday, May 29, to take on New York City FC. The Lions return to the Camping World Stadium after the league-wide Copa America Centenario break on Saturday, July 18, to host the San Jose Earthquakes at 7:30 p.m. E.T.
Orlando City SC – GK Joe Bendik, D Kevin Alston, David Mateos, Tommy Redding, Brek Shea, M Servando Carrasco, Cristian Higuita, Carlos Rivas (Júlio Baptista 67’), Kaká, Adrian Winter (Kevin Molino 67’), F Cyle Larin (Hadji Barry 84’)
Substitutes Not Used: GK Earl Edwards Jr., D Luke Boden, M Harrison Heath, Antonio Nocerino
Philadelphia Union – GK Andre Blake, D Keegan Rosenberry, Joshua Yaro (Ken Tribbett 45 +1’), Richie Marquez, Fabinho, M Brian Carroll, Warren Creavalle, Sebastien Le Toux (Leo Fernandes 90 +3’), Tranquillo Barnetta, Chris Pontius (Fabian Herbers 70’), F C.J. Sapong
Substitutes Not Used: GK Matthew Jones, D Raymon Gaddis, M Roland Alberg, Walter Restrepo
More photos at www.FloridaLeisurePhotography.com