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Orlando City vs. Vancouver Whitecaps: Final Score 0-1 as Rivero Breaks Through Late

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Octavio Rivero's header in the 96th minute sent Orlando City fans home unhappy and handed the Lions their first MLS loss. It was a harsh result for an Orlando side that largely controlled the game but couldn't find a break-through goal.

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Vancouver Whitecaps Twitter feed asked for the team to steal three points in Orlando and that's exactly what they did.

Octavio Rivero broke Orlando City hearts with a stoppage time header to steal a 1-0 victory in the Orlando Citrus Bowl in front of a crowd of 31,072. Vancouver (2-1-0) got a late free kick on a Darwin Ceren foul in the 96th minute that Pedro Morales sent into the area. Rivero got to it and flicked it into the far corner where goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts couldn't reach it.

It was a harsh result for an Orlando City side that controlled most of the play and simply couldn't find the final ball, missing a number of very close chances throughout the contest.

It was doubly harsh because it came just after second-half sub Jordan Harvey for Vancouver was booked for time wasting and Ceren's foul came on the ensuing throw-in. Orlando City had intercepted the initial Harvey throw-in but referee Jorge Gonzalez pulled it back for a second throw.

"Do I think we should have won the game? Probably not. I think a draw would have been a fair result," said Head Coach Adrian Heath after the game. "But we certainly didn't deserve to lose it."

Orlando out-shot Vancouver 12-9, made 21 crosses to Vancouver's 12, and enjoyed a 62.6%-37.4% advantage in possession but have nothing to show for it due to missing the target. The Lions put only one shot on goal, allowing three - all to Rivero.

The Lions (1-1-1) taste MLS defeat for the first time, but they came within inches of breaking through a number of times, including a Cyle Larin shot in the 90th minute. Larin took a pass from Kaká, made a nice turn and pushed it just wide.

Eric Avila was lurking just behind Larin unmarked but the Canadian national, making his MLS debut, either didn't see him or chose to take it himself.

Aside from Larin's opportunity late, Orlando City nearly scored on Pedro Ribeiro's final touch, a beautiful curling left-footed shot that went inches high to find the roof of the net.

"Too many 'Nearlies,'" said Heath. "It was nearly a good play, it was nearly a good ball, it was nearly a good cross. Nearly is not going to be enough through the course of this season."

Orlando City began the game in a 4-4-2 with Kaká playing up top with Pedro Ribeiro, starting for an injured Carlos Rivas. The other big change in the lineup was Eric Avila playing in the midfield instead of Lewis Neal, who was left out of the 18 altogether.

The Lions controlled play early, holding a 60-40 possession advantage in the scoreless opening half, but they couldn't seem to find the final touch or through ball to truly menace David Ousted's goal. A chance eight minutes in went wanting when Kevin Molino passed when he should have shot off a nice pass from Kaká.

Orlando City's best opportunity came at the 13-minute mark when Kaká's shot from the top of the box was deflected just wide. Four minutes later, Ribeiro found himself in good position but the Vancouver defense collapsed on him to snuff out the threat.

At 26', Eric Avila worked hard down the left side to earn a corner and was nearly -- there's that word again -- rewarded on Kaká's cross. Kendall Waston headed out the corner kick to Avila, who rifled a shot just high on the volley.

Vancouver's speed posed problems for Orlando City at times, particularly in the later stages of the first half. Seb Hines may have been fortunate to avoid getting sent off and yielding a penalty for pulling back Rivero early, but the referee was well positioned and gave a goal kick. The Whitecaps spent much of the first 30 minutes probing with Kekuta Manneh down Rafael Ramos's right side but to no avail.

The Whitecaps finally got a toehold in the game 34 minutes in, when Rivero blazed past the offside trap and got on the end of a brilliant through ball. Donovan Ricketts came off his line to thwart the chance, knocking it inches wide to make his first save of the season. Moments later, Rivero torched a shot off the crossbar with Hines and Brek Shea both marking Waston and leaving Vancouver's DP unattended in the box.

Vancouver missed another opportunity in the 38th minute when Pedro Morales shot wide off a turnover when Orlando City misplayed a quick free kick deep in their own end.

The visitors played a chippy first 45 minutes, picking up three yellow cards (Gershon Koffie, Sam Adekugbe, Kekuta Manneh) in the opening half and five in all. Each team had four shots and one shot on goal through the opening half.

The Lions moved to their traditional 4-2-3-1 after halftime, pushing Kaká out to the left side of midfield, and it seemed to work, as Orlando enjoyed even more possession, allowed fewer Vancouver counters, and appeared more dangerous in the final third. Still, that final through ball remains elusive and players are taking extra touches in the box to cut down their angles and making life easier for opposing goalkeepers.

"Even with a loss we had a lot of good things in this game," Kaká said. "We have to improve a lot of things, we have to get better, to work some movements, most of our forwards, because we create a lot of opportunities but we couldn't score tonight."

Next up comes a trip to Canada to play Montreal Impact without several international players, including Larin, Shea, Kevin  Molino and Ceren.