BRONX, NY -- If anything, a loss for the Lions on Sunday afternoon would have meant heading into the two-week Copa América break with their heads down, waiting for their next opportunity at redemption.
But Orlando City wasn't ready to wait.
The Lions saw their opportunity in the 94th minute and took it. From the foot of Carlos Rivas, to Cyle Larin's head, over to Kevin Molino's, then off the bottom of the crossbar and into the back of the net for the game-tying goal, it was a huge shift of momentum for a club with already so much against it on the afternoon -- playing down five starters, traveling on just three days' rest, and dealing with the small confines of the Yankee Stadium field.
"When you look at the points and the table, we are very close. We don't want to take a point for granted," Molino told reporters after the match. "That mentality -- that do or die mentality -- to keep going because we never know if late in the season that point might take us through, so we're just going to fight.
"And being out five players, it was difficult. The players that filled in, they've done a good job and all the credit to them."
To grab a point that late in a match as tightly contested as it was near the end is huge for the club. The team will head into the two-week break with five points from its last three games over nine days, which is somewhat of an accomplishment for this group.
And in a playoff race as tightly contested as the Eastern Conference is, every point means something.
"We knew the last three games were going to be brutal for us. We've put ourselves in a bit of a hole with the amount of draws we've had lately," Adrian Heath said. "The Montreal game was a big one for us, but I couldn't be more pleased with the players' efforts, considering the injuries, suspensions, and then you lose Kaká, who's been such an influential part for us in the last few weeks. I think it speaks volumes for the amount of hard work that the players put in over the last week."
As Heath alluded to, injuries and suspensions have been a problem for the club over the last several weeks, and this upcoming break will serve as some invaluable downtime for the players to rest up and heal before Orlando City heads into a jam-packed summer schedule, with at least nine games from June 15 through the end of July.
Heath said the club will have the next handful of days off following the game on Sunday -- the team also confirmed the players will be off all week in their weekly training schedule sent to the media -- before gearing back up for the U.S. Open Cup game later in the month.
"This break has come at an absolutely perfect time for us," the Gaffer noted.
Tommy Redding Holds His Own Against World Cup Winner
For the second time this season, Orlando City's Homegrown defender Tommy Redding got the start at Yankee Stadium against NYCFC, matching up against David Villa, the former Barcelona striker and World Cup winner with Spain in 2010.
Redding looked unfazed by the 34-year-old Spaniard, taking him on at every chance he got, putting in a good outing altogether, along with Seb Hines, at the center back spot.
"With guys like that -- world class players -- there's always going to be times where no matter how good your shape is, they'll get past you and get shots on goal," the 19-year-old from Oviedo said about defending Villa. "But you've always got to keep concentrating and keep playing hard."
Redding has been putting together a solid campaign for the Lions this season, and continues to show just how much promise and potential he brings to Orlando's back line for the next several years to come.
Harrison Heath Makes His First Start of 2016
Adrian Heath gave his son, Harrison, the start for Orlando City on Sunday, his first of the season -- his third overall, and first since July of last season. The younger Heath showed his father a good 90-minute effort in the defensive midfield.
Heath picked up a yellow card just 10 minutes into the match, putting him on shaky ground in the early going, but he was able to bounce back from that and put together a pretty promising showing.
Making your first start of the year at Yankee Stadium, having to defend guys like Andrea Pirlo, Mix Diskerud, and Frank Lampard is not a particularly east task, but the 20-year-old handled it well.
"It was a surreal moment, if I'm being honest," Harrison admitted. "Looking back on it now, it was quite a surreal moment for me. Obviously growing up watching those players, Lampard and Pirlo, they were big players that I idolized as a kid."