Orlando FLA- Saturday night’s match-up against Los Angeles FC was predicated to be an intimidating and challenging game at the Exploria Stadium as the Orlando City Lions (9-13-8, 35 points) took on one of the top-rated teams in the West. (19-4-6, 63 points)
The Lions held a 2-1 lead for 58 minutes before LAFC scored a 2nd goal in the 78th minute ending the match in a draw in front of 22, 371 City fans despite a 36% to 64% possession differential favoring Los Angeles.
“Very proud of the players. I thought the effort that they gave tonight was excellent, I thought the commitment was fantastic.” Raved Orlando head Coach James O’connor. “I think when the officials maybe go back and have a look at the game, they will perhaps be a little disappointed in their performance. Our performance I thought was excellent, the guys gave everything. When you look at how good LAFC are and you look at how we match the game and the problems we caused them. At the end of any other night we would have won the game.”
Adrien Perez had his first MLS goal in his first start for Los Angeles in the 12th minute but the Lions roared back with a chip in by Luis Nani just a minute later that skipped over LAFC goalie, Tyler Miller and found the back of the net. Nani has the most goals made this season for the OCSC with 10 and Tesho Akindele not far behind with nine. Tesho, as well as five others including Carlos Ascues, Will Johnson, and Sebas Mendez, were called forward for international duties leaving the field open for players on both ends to display their talents.
Los Angeles also played Saturday night missing six of their key players, including three All-Stars, defender Walker Zimmerman, mid-fielders Mark Anthony Kaye, and Eduard Atuesta. The MlS leading goal scorer Carlos Vela who leads the league with 27 goals was out during Saturdays match-up in Orlando due to a hamstring injury.
The Lions struck again in the 20th minute when a well-orchestrated play was set up by Cristain Higuita and Ruan that opened the passing lane finding Benji Mitchel. Mitchel gave no hesitation as he drilled the ball into the back of the net before LAFC goalie, Tyler Miller, could react. In the 55th minute Orlando City was stripped of a third goal that would have granted them three-points when Benji and LAFC goalie Tyler Miller made contact just a moment before Lions Mid-fielder Oriol Rosell struck the ball into the back of the net. Due to a blown whistle calling a foul on Mitchel the goal was waved off and tempers on the Orlando sidelines flared with confusion.
“It looked like a goal to me.” stated Head Coach O’Connor when questioned on the play during the post-game conference. “So, I think the safest thing for me to do is to point you towards the league and the referees and ask them.”
The result this past Saturday night was 2-2 and the Orlando City Lions walk away with their 8th tied game of the 2019 season. The Lions came to impress as they battled one of the best teams in the league with only four games left in the regular season. Play-off contention remains in reach for the Orlando City Soccer Club.
LAFC: Los Angeles will continue on the road to Philadelphia September 14th @ 4:30.
ORLANDO: The Lions remain at home to face New England Revolution September 14th @7:30 at the Exploria Stadium.