Orlando City's game against the New England Revolution last night was close to what Adrian Heath wants to see from his team. The Lions, coming off of a win in an international friendly against Ponte Preta, looked to be coming into form at home. Even with losing Kevin Molino for the season, the team looked to break out of their losing streak at home.
However, going up against the defending Eastern Conference champions was not going to be an easy task. It was apparent after the ball was kicked that the Revolution came to play, and really forced Orlando into some bad play in the midfield. Throughout the first half, New England looked to be in control and created good chances, while Orlando looked to be on their heels a bit more than usual. Even Adrian Heath in his post game press conference said, "We allowed a very good, confident team to dictate the pace of the game."
That dictation of the game also came with some bad turnovers that gave the Revolution their opportunities for goals. Amobi Okugo gifted the ball to the Revs' Charlie Davies who took a few dribbles and beat Seb Hines to score the first goal, then Rafael Ramos tried to chest the ball to his goalie Donovan Ricketts and Kelyn Rowe scooped up the sloppy pass and scored the second.
Even after all of the bad play, the giveaways and the dominance of New England, Orlando found a way to come back. After halftime, Adrian Heath gave the team a talk, telling them to "get about them a little bit more" and force the issue. The team responded for the last 45 minutes, doing exactly that. For the entire second half, the Lions maintained possession and returned the pressure that New England put on them during the first half.
With only five days in between games, Orlando must utilize the confidence that they built not only scoring goals, but controlling the game throughout. If there's one thing to be taken away from this game, it is the resilience the players showed when they went down 2-0 in the 71st minute.
Yes, it was a terrible goal to give away, but Rafael Ramos didn't hang his head and play the rest of the game dwelling on the mistake. Instead, he came right back into the fray and delivered a great cross into the box, which Cyle Larin finished off. The entire team, not just Ramos, seemed to band together for those last 15 minutes and somehow pull two goals back to even the game.
Just saying this game was "just a draw" really isn't doing it justice. This game could be the start of something for Orlando City and could really help in finding their stride in MLS play. As long as they continue to improve and take each game as they come, they will be a playoff contender by season's end.