Orlando City will feel like they should have had more from this game and they're right. A 10-man Columbus team took advantage of the Lions not finishing a number of outstanding scoring chances, to carve out a 2-2 draw in front of 31,430 at the Citrus Bowl.
But despite the advantage in numbers and possession (64.2%-35.8%), Orlando (3-5-5 14 points) could not put together a final ball in the box. The Lions held a 24-9 advantage in shots, including a 9-6 edge in shots on target.
Even with all the advantages Orlando had, it took Pedro Ribeiro's rocket in the 89th minute into the side netting from 25 yards out to rescue a point -- in a game that Orlando controlled throughout, and from which the Lions should have taken all three. The Crew (4-4-4, 16 points) played 74 minutes a man down when Michael Parkhurst was sent off for an intentional handball in the box.
Ribeiro also had a chance in stoppage time to win it, but sent a shot just wide.
"There's no way we shouldn't have taken three points out of the game tonight," said Head Coach Adrian Heath after the match. "I thought the guys played hard. Sometimes we've got to play smarter, not harder."
Orlando went up a man early in the match but could the problems in the final third which seemed to dissipate in the second half against the New England Revolution suddenly reared their ugly head again with so many chances being sent wide, high or right at Crew keeper Steve Clark, who also made a couple of good saves along the way.
The Crew took an undeserved 2-1 lead in the 61st after a free kick that should never have been given. Cristian Higuita cut in front of Tony Tchani and took the ball away cleanly before being bundled over by the Crew midfielder. A free kick was given to the Crew and the ended up going wide left to Waylon Francis.
Francis beat Rafael Ramos badly and his cross found Kei Kamara. Major League Soccer's leading goal scorer headed back against the grain to beat Tally Hall. It was Kamara's 10th goal of the season and came completely against the run of play.
Columbus torched Orlando City on the counter to take a 1-0 lead just six minutes in, specifically beating Luke Boden badly down the right wing. Hector Jimenez got deep past Boden and fired a cross that fell perfectly for midfielder Tony Tchani to nod home past Tally Hall. It was Hall's first goal allowed in the run of play since his return.
Jimenez and Ethan Finlay tried to beat Boden with speed throughout the first half and they were dangerous. Finlay got off a rocket in the 23rd minute and forced a diving Hall stop on a similar play, getting in behind the left side of Orlando's defense.
Kaká's equalizer came from the spot in the 17th minute, after a Boden corner kick was handled by Crew defender Michael Parkhurst. Referee Silviu Petrescu didn't hesitate to show red to Parkhurst, putting Columbus down a man. The spot kick found side netting and caught Steve Clark so flat footed that he could only muster a halfhearted stab after the ball went in.
Orlando should have led at the half, but the final product wasn't there a few times. Cyle Larin got on the end of some brilliant interplay between Eric Avila and Rafael Ramos, but sent the cross just inches wide of the post a minute after Kaká tied the game. Larin then found himself alone against Clark on a Cristian Higuita through ball but his shot went directly into Clark's legs and then went just wide before Avila could get to the rebound.
Kamara was prowling late in the half, but Hall made another great save to preserve the 1-1 draw into halftime.
The Lions and Crew will meet once more in the regular season in what is turning into a nice Eastern Conference rivalry. Orlando City is back in action next Saturday night at the Chicago Fire at 8:30 p.m.