For the Lions, three points felt so near, yet so far after their latest game.
After going down a goal in the first half, a strike from Giles Barnes salvaged Orlando City a 1-1 draw against the Columbus Crew on Saturday night in front of a sell-out crowd of 25,527 at Orlando City Stadium.
“It’s a result that we didn’t want. We wanted three points in our worst possible way, but the performance I thought we very good,” said Orlando head coach Jason Kreis after the game. “It was a 10 or 15 minutes in the first half where I thought we dropped a little bit with our level, but the other 75 minutes, I thought we were very good, on top of them. And frankly, I thought we deserved to win this game.”
The Lions (8-10-7, 31 points) controlled 55 percent possession of the ball, and outshot the Crew 19-4 throughout the game, including holding the visitors without a single shot in the second half.
Orlando City were granted the opportunity of having the player advantage after Harrison Afful’s elbow to Yoshimar Yotun’s face in the 76th minute resulted into an ejection after video review saw the Columbus right-back defender commit violent conduct.
In the first half, the Crew took the lead after Waylon Francis’ free kick connected with Lalas Abubakar who headed the ball past Joe Bendik for the 1-0 scoreline.
The Lions responded with an equalizer in the 67th minute when substitute Cristian Higuita’s through-ball pass connected with Giles Barnes, who rifled a shot toward goal, bouncing off both posts before going into the net for the 1-1.
“My main aim, especially when I’m playing from deep in midfield is to be the third-man runner into the box. Cristian’s vision… his ability on the ball, I knew where he was going to put it, so it was up to me,” said Barnes after scoring.
“When it hit the post, I was too sure which side it was going to go. That’s why I watched it for a while, but thankfully it went the other side.”
Here’s how the Lions lined up:
Orlando City XI: Bendik; Toia, Pereira, Redding, Sutter; Nocerino, Johnson, Barnes, Yotun; Rivas, Larin.
Orlando City Subs: Saunders; Aja, Carrasco, Higuita, Laryea, Powers, Dwyer.
Higuita entered the game in the 32nd minute for an injured Will Johnson.
Dom Dwyer made his official debut at Orlando City Stadium on Saturday, entering in the 63rd minute for Antonio Nocerino. The United States international tallied three shots with two on target for 27 minutes played.
Team captain Ricardo Kaka did not play on Saturday after serving a one-game suspension after last week’s game against the New York Red Bull saw the Brazilian draw a red card in the final moments of the game.
The Brazilian star spent the first half in the supporters’ section of the stadium. It was the first time in his professional career Kaka watched a game within fans, according to a club spokesman.
The Lions have not won at home since May 31 during a 2-0 win over DC United. Orlando City have two wins in their last 18 games.
Orlando City hosts the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday at Orlando City Stadium 7:30 p.m.
(Photo Courtesy of Orlando City)
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