As I mentioned in the match recap, sometimes a draw feels like a win. Pulling two goals back in the final 15 minutes when you're two down certainly qualifies.
But looking back, this is a game is more than a point in the MLS standings. When combined with the equally dramatic friendly win over Brazilian side Ponte Preta, t's a game the Lions can build upon moving through a very difficult portion of the schedule.
Let's kick off your Mother's Day (and Martin Paterson's birthday) with five things to take away from Friday's victory.
Should Have Been Three Points
While the comeback was nice and left fans feeling good about the game as a whole, this can be viewed as another home missed opportunity, despite the result against one of the league's top teams. The Lions handed the Revs their two goals and shoddy defending on a corner nearly delivered a third tally to New England.
"You make big mistakes in your half against good teams it inevitably ends up in the back of your net," Adrian Heath said after the match. "And that's something we spoke about. Nobody wants to play football more than I do. Sometimes you have to clear your lines; sometimes you have to play forward; sometimes you have to play what you don't want to play because it's the right thing to do. And at times we still want to keep playing when it's not on. If there's a lesson to be learned that's one of them."
Against New England, Orlando "gave them too much respect," as Heath put it, to start the game. This allowed the Revs to grab a lead and dictate the flow and pace of the game. This has been somewhat a staple of this inaugural MLS Lions club. They allow the other team to start fast and take about 20 minutes to settle into the game.
Once they did that, they pretty much out-played the Revolution. It wasn't just more possession, which New England seemed to concede in the second half as City chased the game. Orlando was the more confident and convincing team, and despite Rafael Ramos coughing up the second goal and the continuation of problems in the final third, the Lions always looked like the more likely team to score after the half hour mark of the game.
The stats bear out that last point. City out-shot New England 12-8, including an 8-1 advantage in the second half. The Lions won more corners (5-4) and the possession battle (59.7%-40.3%), and were more accurate in their passing (83.9%-76%).
In the final third, City completed 73% of their passes to 65% for New England. Accuracy on crosses was a decided 33%-8% edge on crossing accuracy.
Heath lauded the team for keeping a better shape in the second half, and the second half stats confirm that. Orlando enjoyed 66.7% of the possession after the break. This was partly New England pushing fewer players higher, but also in part due to Orlando pushing more players higher and being in better position.
This was a game that could have been Orlando's had it not been for two costly errors and a little too much early respect for the opponent, and had the Lions capitalized on their numerous chances, they could have had more goals.
That looks kind of dominating.
City Figuring Out its Style?
Through the last two games, Orlando may have stumbled upon its identity. Trying to pass the opposition to death hasn't worked as well as expected in the club's first eight MLS contests. But in the friendly against Ponte Preta and again on Friday night, the team has suddenly discovered itself to be a viable aerial threat.
Utilizing Eric Avila and Luke Boden on corners led to two outstanding headed goals in the friendly. Both were dangerous on set pieces on Friday, whipping in deadly crosses which nearly resulted in goals a few times before the breakthrough. Ramos and Boden set up the two goals Friday with similarly whipped-in crossing passes that found Cyle Larin and Aurélien Collin, respectively. Using the width this way to take advantage of size and strength in the middle could form the backbone of this team's identity.
This is not to say that Orlando will completely abandon the style of attack that the Lions preferred to start the season, but scoring from wide crossing plays will build confidence to try them more often and could make opponents respect them, opening up more of the middle for Kaká, Brek Shea and Avila in the attacking midfield.
Larin Gaining Confidence
With two goals in four MLS starts and another in last week's friendly, rookie striker Cyle Larin is growing in confidence and understanding the game better than ever. He looked threatening throughout the match with his movement and battled hard against New England's defenders, learning to better use his size and strength to his advantage.
He had some near misses before finally getting onto the Ramos cross in the 75th minute.
"I'm starting to pick up the level of play and pick up my confidence," Larin said after the match. "I'm scoring some goals and I just try to get better each game."
Heath said he was pleased with the way Larin kept fighting throughout the match and that he finally got his goal.
"As I've said all along, one of the reasons we took him in the draft was that we think he has a lot of tools," Heath said. "We think there's a lot to work with and he'll get better. I think he's still got to get sharper. He's working really hard in training and as I've said after his goal in Portland, these goals will be the first of many and a very good MLS career."
It's clear through a quarter of the season that the way MLS teams will deal with Kaká's movement and ball skills is to hammer him repeatedly. Orlando's captain sustained a game-high four fouls on the night, plus a few others that referee Ted Unkel let go.
The Brazilian, who is normally fairly mild mannered on the pitch, showed his frustration with the referee all night, not only for suffering repeating muggings, but also for Unkel seemingly needlessly calling back two free kicks that put Kaká's teammates in good position with the ball.
MLS is a physical lead and Kaká will have to adjust, but the players and coaches will also have to start working the referees much harder to protect their (and the league's) $7 million+ investment.
Bonus Item: Aurélien Collin Takes What He Wants
After the match, Adrian Heath said it was Collin's idea to wander forward in search of goals in the second half, and not a tactical decision by the staff. The Frenchman moved to the front line several times in the final half hour, raising his hand and calling for the ball.
"I have to be honest at one stage I wasn't too pleased. That's the way Aurélien is, he wears his heart on his sleeves. He decided he wanted to go up there and try to make something happen. At 2-1, desperate measures and desperate actions," Heath said. "All in all I want him to play center half, not center-forward but I can understand it."
I asked Collin after the match why he took it upon himself to stray forward.
"One of my best characteristics is heading the ball," he said. "Today I finally scored a goal and I hope I'm going to keep scoring. We're (he and Seb Hines are) very dangerous."
The move ended up paying dividends, but a little conversation between the player and coach this week may take place.