Orlando – The Lions fought back from an 0-2 deficit to tie the East-leading new England Revolution tonight and in the process ended a 3 game losing streak at home. Before a crowd of 27,243, Orlando City refused to accept another loss and roared back in the last fifteen minutes to earn a precious point at the Citrus Bowl.
The red hot Revolution completely dominated the first 20 minutes of the game in possession and pressure. Orlando City’s tendency to play keep away in the backfield instead of clearing the ball bit them yet again when Amobi Okugo failed to trap a pass and gifted the ball to Charlie Davies. Davies promptly broke Seb Hines’ ankles hard to the right and blasted a shot past Donovan Ricketts into the right side of the net.
“Obviously, we started very apprehensively. We allowed a very good, confident team to dictate the pace of the game, and I thought we played off the back foot and gave them too much respect,” said Head Coach Adrian Heath.
Things didn’t seem to be going well for the Lions again as yet another referree seemed to relish handing out yellow cards to the boys in purple, tagging Brek Shea and Rafael Ramos for questionable fouls at best. Even Kaká was getting testy after getting whistled for a phantom hand ball.
The second half started much better with Orlando City finally putting together the passing and attacking they have been known for all season long. The chemistry between Brek Shea and Kaka showed more flashes of brilliance and almost lead to a goal several times. Of course one of the best chances went by the wayside after Rev defender Jermaine Jones flat out levelled Shea for no call by official Ted Unkel. Even so, the Lions were the ones dictating the pace in the second half.
Heath seemed to think as much saying, ”I don’t think they (New England) had another opportunity during the second 45, so obviously we turned the game around in our favor.”
Dominating possession and putting shot after shot on goal, it appeared that the equalizer could come at any minute until another devasting mistake in the backfield sucked the air out of the Citrus Bowl.
In the 71st minute, on what should have been an easy clearance, Rafael Ramos lost track of Kelyn Rowe and chested a ball ostensibly to Ricketts which landed perfectly in front of the Revolution midfielder for a goal that was far too easy.
Down 0-2, the Lions declined to accept a 4 game losing streak and redoubled their efforts. In the 74th minute, Kaka drove into the left of the box and flitted a pass to Shea who beat London Woodberry with a cross that just barely missed being headed in at point blank range by a diving Cyle Larin.
Larin, the overall Number 1 SuperDraft pick, didn’t have to wait much longer for another chance as he took a perfectly placed Ramos cross in the 75th minute and headed it into the left side of the net.
With purple confetti raining down, Orlando kept the heat on repeatedly testing the Revs’ defense. Just as all hope appeared to be lost, fan favorite, Luke Boden chipped a cross in the 90th minute that Aurélien Collin headed into the goal to complete the epic comeback.
Orlando City returns to action Wednesday night at 8pm when they visit DC United.