If only Orlando City was as good at finding goals as I am at finding Pokemon.
In the first match of the post-Adrian Heath era, the Lions (4-4-9, 21 points) played to a scoreless draw against the Houston Dynamo (4-8-6, 18 points) in front of 28,104 at Camping World Stadium.
“I think in light of the events of the last couple of days, there was a bit of edginess to the guys,” said Interim Head Coach Bobby Murphy after the match. “If I’m being honest, there was a cloud hanging over the place tonight and tonight was a night where we needed to give the crowd a lift, as often as they’ve been able to give us a lift. Tonight we needed to give the crowd something to cheer for, and we couldn’t quite get it across the line.”
The first half didn’t provide much action from either side, as both teams spent most of their 45 minutes running around and kicking the ball into each other’s feet.
Two of the most exciting moments of the half came in the final five minutes when Brek Shea’s whipped cross was knocked away into the middle of the box by Dynamo goalkeeper Tyler Deric, with Houston able to clear the ball before any Orlando player could get to it in the 41st minute.
Moments later, Will Bruin cut right through the middle of Orlando’s defense to get a dangerous shot off on Joe Bendik that Orlando’s keeper was able to get his fingertips on to push just wide in the 44th minute.
The second half didn’t bring much more to speak of, either.
Kevin Molino posted Orlando City’s best chance of the game, by far, in the 50th minute with a run of his own up the middle. The Original worked past several Houston defenders to get in alone on Tyler Deric. Molino tried to chip the Houston’s keeper, but Deric was able to get a hand on it to force it over the net for a corner.
And in the dying moments of the match, coming off of a Giles Barnes shot that bounced off the post, Julio Baptista, who came on as a sub in the 60th minute, ripped off a shot that was too far off target to make Deric flinch.
That was the last opportunity for Orlando City, on a night where the Lions fought hard but couldn’t pull out a victory in front of their home crowd.
With the scoreless draw against Houston, Orlando City players still haven’t scored a goal against Texas teams since entering MLS (the Lions’ only goal in four attempts against Houston and Dallas was the Deric own-goal in Houston last season), proving that nobody on the team would mess with Texas.
“I’m not naive enough to say there aren’t things we can’t improve upon, but I take away from this — and I told them this in the locker room — right now they’re above the red line and we got our first clean sheet since game No. 3 in New York,” Murphy said. “Those are two really positive things that we can hang onto going into this busy stretch over the next couple of weeks.”
Following the draw, Orlando City will hit the road for its next three matches, with the first of the road trip coming Wednesday at Red Bull Arena, as the Lions face off with the New York Red Bulls for the third and final time this season.