In a game that featured multiple weather delays and torrential downpour, Orlando City SC (7-12-8, 29 points) battled to a 1-1 draw with the Chicago Fire (7-13-6, 27 points) at the Orlando Citrus Bowl on Saturday night, improving their posture in the Eastern Conference and delivering a spirited performance to the tens of thousands of loyal fans who weathered the rain to cheer on their squad.
The draw moved the Lions into sixth place, one point ahead of the Montreal Impact and fellow expansion club New York City FC.
The Lions fell behind first, despite creating multiple close chances, when David Accam found the back of the net after sneaking his effort in at the near post.
City responded just seven minutes later though when Lewis Neal’s clipped ball into the box forced an own goal from Chicago center-back Eric Gehrig, who was battling in the air with rookie striker Cyle Larin.
In the second half, Orlando threatened on multiple occasions, with Kaka and Rivas both coming close to being heroes in the final 45. In the 57th minute, Rivas pulled the ball back to the Brazilian who was left unmarked on the edge of the area, setting up an effort from Kaka that skipped just wide of the far post.
With less than 10 minutes remaining in the game, the Colombian winger came close to propelling the Lions to victory when Larin rounded Gehrig and laid the ball off to Rivas, whose right-footed strike rattled off the post.
Despite City’s spirited approach to push for the winning goal in the final ten minutes of the game, the referee blew the final whistle after several close opportunities from set-pieces, resulting in a 1-1 final score.
“Obviously I am bitterly disappointed that we couldn’t finish on some of the quality chances we created this evening. A lot of the things we asked the players before the game to show commitment to, like a desire to win the game, I thought they showed it well,” said head coach Adrian Heath. “It was a really good game. They [Chicago] are always very dangerous on the break because their front four are very dynamic and athletic, so you always are susceptible to getting done on the counter attack. I thought we managed them quite well. In light of everything else that has gone on this evening, it could have been a huge three points for us. I thought our fans were incredible again. I imagine they’re all as wet as I’ve been this evening. It was an incredible show for our supporters and as I always say, they never cease to amaze me and their support was absolutely magnificent again this evening. We will take the point and go again next week.”
4’ Speedy striker David Accam produced the game’s first real threatening chance, after being slipped in behind, curling an effort from inside the box high of the target. City center-half David Mateos did well to reduce his angle on goal.
6’ Two minutes later, Orlando responded when Cyle Larin capitalized on a costly turnover from the Fire in the midfield, driving deep into their half before hitting a left-footed effort just wide of the target.
17’ As the opening 45 approached the halfway point, the referee signaled for another weather delay, due to lightning.
18’ The match resumed after being delayed for over an hour as both teams took the field before a dedicated group of supporters held their ground to finish the game.
23’ Rivas bursted with pace at the Fire defense with the ball at his feet, setting up the ball wide for Lewis Neal, whose curling effort from the edge of the area was deflected before being collected by goalkeeper Sean Johnson.
30’ After being held quiet for the majority of the first half, Accam gave the Fire the lead 15 minutes before the break when he pulled an effort back to the near post, finding the back of the net.
37’ Just before the end of the first half, Lewis Neal’s carefully placed ball into the box resulted in a controversial own goal for the Fire, after Larin battled with center-back Eric Gehrig in the air, leading to a deflection off the defender’s back.
42’ Neal came close to giving Orlando the lead when Larin’s low cross found the Englishman completely unmarked on the back-post. With Johnson charing off his line, Neal attempted to go high and missed the target.
45 (+1) The referee blew the whistle for halftime, with both teams level 1-1 at the break.
57’ City’s best chance of the half came on a counter-attack when Rivas drug several defenders with him before laying the ball for an un-marked Kaká on the edge of the box. The Brazilian attempted to curl his effort into the bottom corner but narrowly missed the target.
65’ With both teams battling for a result, Orlando City continued to control time on the ball, dominating 62 percent of the possession.
73’ The Lions continued to probe in search of a decisive goal, but the Fire remained compact in behind the ball, making it difficult for City to break through.
76’ City was awarded a dangerous free-kick on the edge of the area after Lewis Neal was brought down, providing the home side with a set-piece in a dangerous area. Although Rivas’ effort was powerful, the Colombian was unable to clear the wall.
81’ Larin produced a bit of magic late in the game, skipping by Gehrig in the box before setting up Rivas for a golden opportunity. The winger, who had a comfortable look at goal, rattled his strike off the near post.
85’ Accam’s pace nearly proved costly on a late counter-attack, but City defender Corey Ashe did well to usher him wide.
90 (+2) Darwin Cerén nearly produced late-game heroics with a blistering effort from outside the box, but Johnson produced a world-class save to push it wide, resulting in a 1-1 final score.
Team 1 2 Final
Orlando City SC 1 0 1
Chicago Fire 1 0 1
CHI: David Accam (Razvan Cocis) 30’
ORL: Eric Gehrig (Own Goal) 37’
ORL: Luke Boden (Yellow Card) 32’
ORL: Eric Gehrig (Yellow Card) 43’
CHI: Kennedy Igboananike (Yellow Card) 77’
ORL: Carlos Rivas (Yellow Card) 83’
Orlando City SC – GK Tally Hall, D Luke Boden, David Mateos, Aurelien Collin, Corey Ashe, M Darwin Ceren, Cristian Higuita (Servando Carrasco 86’), Kaka, Lewis Neal, Carlos Rivas, Cyle Larin (Pedro Ribeiro 82’)
Unused Subs: GK Earl Edwards Jr., D Tommy Redding, M Eric Avila, Bryan Rochez, Danny Mwanga
Chicago Fire – GK Sean Johnson, D Matt Polster, Eric Gehrig, Jeff Larentowicz, Joevin Jones, M Razvan Cocis, Michael Stephens, Patrick Nyarko (Harry Shipp 60’), Kennedy Igboananike, F Gilberto (Jason Johnson 60’), David Accam
Unused Subs: GK Jon Busch, D Greg Cochrane, Lovel Palmer, M Chris Ritter, Matt Watson
Time of Match: 7:30 p.m. ET
August 29, 2015
Attendance: 28, 921
Orlando City will travel to Gillette Stadium next weekend to face the New England Revolution on Saturday, September 5. Kick-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.
The Lions will return to the Orlando Citrus Bowl on Sunday, September 13, to host Sporting Kansas City. Kick-off is 7:00 p.m. ET.
For more information on the 2017 season ticket waitlist, or to purchase group or individual tickets, visit http://www.OrlandoCitySC.com or call 855-ORL-CITY.
Follow the latest Orlando City news and updates via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.