Orlando City SC and the Charleston Battery played to a 26-minute, weather-shortened, 1-1 draw on a rainy night in Charleston, SC. Left back Brek Shea put the Lions on top in the 10th minute, only to see Navion Boyd equalize on the stroke of a lightning delay in the 26th.
The draw severely hampers City in the Carolina Challenge Cup, leaving the Lions in third place with one match left. Host Charleston has four points and Houston Dynamo is second, with three. Orlando City has two points and New York City FC is stuck on just one.
According to Paul Tenorio of the Orlando Sentinel, Lions club officials turned down the opportunity to complete the game on Thursday. Orlando City will need to beat Houston Saturday night and have New York City FC defeat or draw with Charleston in order to bring home the trophy.
Bright spots for Orlando City, aside from Shea on the goal, were Kaká, Kevin Molino and Rafael Ramos. The game was honestly too short to take much away from it, but those three played a solid 26 minutes.
Shea put the Lions on top just 10 minutes into the contest, taking a cross from Kaká after a low corner kick was cleared back out to the Brazilian. Kaká made the most of his second opportunity, sending the ball back in to the near side. Shea got to it first and nodded it home for a 1-0 lead.
Darwin Cerén, starting in place of an injured Cristian Higuita (groin), nearly sent Bryan Rochez in alone for a chance to make it 2-0, but the Honduran couldn't gain control and it went out for a goal kick.
Charleston got back into it in the 26th minute with Boyd taking a cross from Zach Prince and beating a helpless Donovan Ricketts from point-blank range. Charleston's quick attack started with a Lions turnover and striker Dane Kelly quickly found himself on the ball in Orlando's half.
Kelly sent Prince down the left flank. Orlando City could not get numbers back in time and there was no coverage on Boyd, who swept in from the right.
Just after the equalizer, the referee blew the whistle for a lightning delay. The inclement weather, which left standing water in spots on the pitch, brought a necessary halt to the game in the name of player safety.
"There was some really good stuff from us in the first 15 to 20 minutes, but then we got too complacent and started turning the ball over too easily," said Orlando City head coach Adrian Heath in a club release. "Obviously it's great for Brek to get on the score-sheet, but the conditions made things quite difficult and it's a disappointment because we needed the minutes. But, we can't change the weather and neither can Charleston, so it's no one's fault."
"I'm a little bit disappointed with their goal because we turned the ball over cheaply, and you might say that's down to the conditions, but if you turn the ball over in dangerous areas then you will cause yourself some problems," continued Heath. "We'll have a look at the video, address it, and take it from there."
Orlando City, which now has a 1-0-5 mark in preseason, will finish the tournament Saturday night against Houston. While it's good to still be unbeaten through six games, the Lions must find ways to turn these draws into wins.
They'll get one more chance at that on Saturday at 5 p.m.