Orlando City tallied a point for the first time in four league matches with a 1-1 draw against the Chicago Fire Saturday night, but one couldn't help but feel the Lions let a great opportunity slip away. In a match that featured nearly three hours of rain delays, the announced attendance of 28,921 drastically thinned out before the end of what was a well-played match.
With NYCFC, Philadelphia, and Montreal all losing Saturday, it was a prime chance for Orlando City to gain three points on the teams Orlando is looking to hold off. They were the better team for much of the match, but couldn't capitalize for the game winner. Let's look at the five takeaways.
Rain, Rain Go Away
It poured from about 6:30 p.m. until almost midnight. The game was originally put on a 20-minute delay, which later turned into an hour long delay. Just as the players began warming up and were about ready for kickoff, a lightning delay pushed the start time back another 30 minutes.
An hour and 50 minutes after the original start time, the game finally kicked off only to be suspended for another lightning delay 18 minutes in. This delay took an hour and seven minutes for a total delay of two hours and 57 minutes.
Two hours and 57 minutes. TWO HOURS AND FIFTY-SEVEN MINUTES. In this time I drafted a fantasy football team, drank three Pepsis and someone in the press box allegedly ate an intern. (Credit that joke to one Michael Citro.)
Citrus Bowl media siege, Day 4: Factions have broken out. People are getting desperate. One group killed and ate an intern. It's bad.— The Mane Land (@TheManeLand) August 30, 2015
Rookie Record Eluding Larin
Cyle Larin broke the rookie record for scoring. And then he didn't. And now no one knows. Lewis Neal sent in his best pass of the evening toward Larin in the 36th minute. Larin went up in the air with Eric Gherig and one of the two flicked the ball into the net.
It was first reported that Larin would be credited with the goal, but moments later MLS credited it as a Gherig own-goal. The play is being reviewed by the league and a decision is expected Monday.
In the locker room post game, Larin said he thought he had broken the record and didn't know that it was being called an own-goal. He said he felt like it was his goal.
"Hopefully I get credit for it," Larin said. "I worked to get in that position and hopefully I can get that goal."
If the league does award Larin the goal, it's likely not going to be the moment the rookie hoped for when he thought of breaking the record.
Rivas in the XI
Carlos Rivas got his first start in more than a month in league play for the Lions, and for the most part he capitalized on the opportunity. The 21-year-old played on the left wing, before moving to a more central role in the second half when Cyle Larin came off for Pedro Ribeiro.
He created quite a few opportunities by making good runs out wide and putting in some dangerous crosses. Rivas has done a great job all season of getting into spaces to be dangerous and making things happen, but converting on those opportunities has been his downfall.
Each of his crosses turned out to be harmless and he had two open chances on goal that he failed to convert. His first came early in the 46th minute, when he had a go from just outside the 18-yard-line and hit it way high. His second came off a nifty move and pass from Larin in the 82nd minute and hit off the right post. Inches such as those could prove costly down the stretch for a team that wants to sneak into the playoffs.
"Carlos showed a bit of his pace, and he got some great crosses in," Orlando City Head Coach Adrian Heath said. "Certainly when he plays like that he is a threat. As I said before, it has been a stop-start year for him, but he's getting more comfortable. He'll get better. The best days of Carlos Rivas are well ahead of him."
Rivas did take a yellow card in the 83rd minute that will cause him to be suspended for next match due to yellow card accumulation.
Chicago's only threat for much of the evening was their ability to get out on the counter-attack and use their speed to get by the Orlando City defense. Orlando City's back line was mostly solid, but David Accam made it tough on right back Corey Ashe when he wanted to push forward.
Accam's menacing ways started in the fourth minute when he took a bad pass from Darwin Ceren down the flank and cut in toward the middle of the box and let a shot go that missed wide right.
But 25 minutes later, Accam found the net, taking a pass off the touch line and beating Ashe to the middle of the box. Aurelien Collin flashed to help, but backed off and gave Accam the space he needed to beat Tally Hall near post. It was one of the few runs of poor defending for the Lions all night.
Orlando City managed to snap its goalless drought at 373 minutes (whether or not an Orlando City player or a Chicago Fire broke that streak will be decided Monday), but the Lions still missed plenty of opportunities at goal.
Shots were officially 12-12, but it was Orlando City that had the better of the opportunities. Larin had an attempt in the sixth minute on a counter in which he shot and missed the frame wide left. Later, in the 42nd minute, Neal had a chance on an open net from less than six yards out, and skied his shot into the stands.
In the second half, Rivas had his two near misses, and Kaká had a wide-open attempt on goal that he pushed wide.
It was a better performance from Orlando City than we have seen in recent weeks, and they probably deserved a better result. When Orlando City looks back on its season, they will likely either count this match as a turning point for the squad or see the few inches that cost them a playoff spot.