Just a few moments shy of seeing through a big win on the road, C.J. Sapong single-handily crushed Orlando City‘s spirit with a 95th-minute stoppage time goal to tie the game for the Chicago Fire and send Orlando City back home with just a point in a 1-1 draw on Saturday afternoon at SeatGeek Stadium.
Orlando (0-0-2, 2 points) went up a goal early in the second half, and despite being up a man for the final 25 minutes they couldn’t hold on to get all three points against a Chicago side that dominated the match throughout.
A cold, rainy day in the Windy City did not produce the most exciting 90 minutes of soccer, as the teams went into the half scoreless. Chicago (0-1-1, 1 point) controlled the match throughout the first half, with 56 percent of the possession at half time.
A couple of close chances to start the match should have had them up 2-0 if Nemanja Nikolic had finished off a cross from Djordje Mihailovic a couple yards in front of the net in just the second minute of the game. Then in the 20th minute, Nikolic again found an opportunity to put his side up but blasted another close-range effort off target.
Dom Dwyer, who was forced into the game much earlier than James O’Connor anticipated when Tesho Akindele left the game after 21 minutes due to injury, was the man to score Orlando’s only goal of the day in the 47th minute, pouncing on some lackadaisical defending by Chicago.
Nani, who started the match for the first time with Orlando, volleyed a floater over the back line, thinking goalkeeper David Ousted was coming out to get it the defenders pulled up, letting Dwyer blow right by Johan Kappelhof to get the loose ball and score the easy goal, making it 1-0.
The fortunes tilted even more towards Orlando in the 64th minute when Nani again played a ball forward through the Chicago defense for Ruan, who was taken down hard from behind by Fire left back Jorge Corrales, a play that would earn him a red card and send the Fire down to 10 men for the rest of the match.
The Lions responded to that decision with enough energy to take control of the match for the next 10 minutes or so before Chicago took back the reigns and kept pushing into Orlando’s final third.
Then right at the death, Przemyslaw Frankowski sent a ball forward into the box that Sapong was able to get his head on and send it right past Brian Rowe for the game-tying goal in the 95th minute, forcing the Lions to drop two points.
47′ – Dom Dwyer (Orlando City)
95′ – C.J. Sapong (Chicago)
Up next for Orlando
The Lions return on Saturday, March 16 to host the Montreal Impact.
How the Lions lined up
Orlando City XI: Brian Rowe; Danilo Acosta, Alex De John, Shane O’Neill, Kamal Miller, Kyle Smith; Sebastian Mendez, Will Johnson; Sacha Kljestan; Nani (c), Tesho Akindele
Orlando City bench: Greg Ranjitsingh, Chris Mueller, Dom Dwyer, Carlos Ascues, Cristian Higuita, Uri Rosell, Josue Colman.
(Photo Courtesy of Orlando City SC)
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