For the second straight game, Orlando City conceded a late goal to drop points. A controversial penalty call gave New England’s Lee Nguyen a late goal deep in stoppage time to swipe two more points from the Lions at home in a game that ended tied at 2-2.
The Lions (2-1-3, 9 points) remain third in the Eastern Conference table. The Revolution (1-1-5, 6 points) continued their slow start to the 2016 season and add to their ever-growing collection of draws.
Adrian Heath came out in a 4-2-3-1, with a back line of Brek Shea, Seb Hines, Tommy Redding and Kevin Alston, who started in place of Rafael Ramos, after the latter picked up a hamstring injury. Cristian Higuita also was held out of the 18 with his groin injury, so Antonio Nocerino and Darwin Ceren were the central midfield pairing; Adrian Winter started over Kevin Molino on the right side of Kaká and Carlos Rivas, while Julio Baptista got his first start for Orlando up top.
The game started with a bang as not even 15 seconds into the match, Baptista drew a penalty in the box. The Brazilian got behind the defense and was brought down by Je-Vaughn Watson,as he tried to turn towards goal.
Captain Kaká jumped on the opportunity and scored the penalty, going right up the middle as Revolution goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth guessed the wrong way.
After the goal, New England came out off the restart pressing high and creating chances. In the 11th minute, a turnover in Orlando’s half of the field almost turned into a good counter for the Lions, but Rivas was brought down by theGershon Koffie, who was subsequently shown a yellow card.
Meanwhile, New England continued to hold possession and Orlando continued to play off the counter. While the Lions continued to constantly defend their end of the pitch, they were still able to create opportunities to score. Their most notable chance of the half came in the 25th minute, when Orlando was able to earn a corner, but Cerén’s subsequent shot went high over the goal.
About 10 minutes later, all of the Revolution’s efforts to equalize the game finally paid off. Coming off of a corner that was questionably given — Diego Fagundez appeared to simply head the ball wide — New England took it short, finding Chris Tierney. The midfielder put a nice ball into the box, which was flicked on by the head of Koffie, and fired into the roof of the net by Teal Bunbury, leveling the game at one. Bunbury created space for the goal with a two-handed shove to the small of Redding’s back but the infraction went unnoticed.
Halftime came and went, with the score knotted at 1-1 and no changes for either team.
Orlando looked a bit more dangerous coming out in the second half, but was still lacking in quality in the final third. Meanwhile, New England became a bit more passive as the Lions held more possession, particularly after Larin and Molino were subbed on for Rivas and Winter in the 61st minute.
Kaká drifted over to the left and Baptista played in the middle, behind Larin, and Orlando continued to gain momentum, earning more dangerous chances. But the Lions still lacked that final pass or shot in the box.
Dangerous chances kept coming and going for Orlando, with the best coming in the 83rd minute, off a flicked pass from Larin to Alston, who nearly buried his old team but his attempt was just over the bar.
New England also continued to get good opportunities, but they came off the counter in the second half rather than the run of play. In the 84th minute, Redding had a terrible turnover in the final third, but Joe Bendik came up with a big kick save to stop the shot and keep the game level.
Then began the onslaught on goal from Orlando. First, Ceren’s pass to Kaká saw the ensuing shot blocked. Then Nocerino’s curler from outside the box was pushed wide by an outstretched Shuttleworth.
A minute later, Molino took an effort in the box which was again saved by Shuttleworth over the bar. Molino was not done though, as he finally broke through a minute later with what at the time looked like the game-winning goal. After chesting down the ball in the box, Molino played on despite New England calls for handball (which it did technically hit his arm) and fired a left-footed shot into the bottom right corner of the net for his first from the run of play, giving the Lions a 2-1 lead in the 92nd minute — with just one minute of stoppage remaining.
That lead however, was not to last. A minute later, a ball into the box from the Revolution’s Nguyen looked to deflect off the front of the shoulder of Servando Carrasco, who had come on a minute earlier for Nocerino. Referee Baldomero Toledo initially signaled for a free kick for a handball just outside the box. But, after some deliberation, he changed his mind and awarded a penalty, which Nguyen then converted to tie the game.
The Lions will travel to New York next to take on the Red Bulls for another nationally televised game on Sunday at 7:30 p.m on FOX Sports 1.