Orlando City and the New York Red Bulls played to a gritty 1-1 tie in front of over 31,000 at Camping World Stadium. The game was littered with yellow cards and fouls but both teams were able to grab a valuable point. Here are our five takeaways:
Young Players' Immaturity Shines Through
Just as we started to think that Rafael Ramos was starting to mature and grow as a player, he regressed last night. Ramos got an unnecessary yellow card in the 24th minute for dissent. Later on in the match, Cristian Higuita -- after a terrible touch -- went cleats up on a tackle and got the red card. MLS is trying to eliminate the cleats-up tackle and the red card looked like it was well deserved. Adrian Heath said in the postgame news conference, "we have to be better to keep our composure." The lack of discipline on this team has been a frequent problem for Orlando City and in the next match we will be without Higuita and we're a yellow card away from losing Brek Shea due to yellow card accumulation.
Playing Out of Pressure
Orlando City is a team that likes to build out of the back and create the attack by possessing the ball. The New York Red Bulls play a high pressure system and looked to take Orlando City completely out of their style of play and were successful for much of the first half. Orlando City made the correct adjustment in the second half to play more direct and look to stretch the opposing team's shape. The Red Bulls also started to drop deeper and deeper in their defensive third. The long balls over the top made the Red Bull back line have to be honest and deal with Cyle Larin making runs behind.
Kevin Molino: Goal Scoring Machine
Kevin Molino brought the game level in the 67th minute after Darwin Ceren played a beautiful long ball over the top to Cyle Larin. Larin's hard work to keep possession allowed Molino to make a delayed run into the box and find his fourth of the season. The Trinidadian had a quiet first half but he found himself in the right place at the right time. The goal is good enough to tie him for the team lead with Larin. The big question at the beginning of the year was how Molino would play coming off of his injury. He has risen to the occasion and has been a second option to provide scoring for Orlando City.
Good to Have Kaká Back
Kaká wasn't at a 100 percent tonight but this team is more dangerous with him in the lineup. The Brazilian connected on 81% of his passes last night, which was second to Darwin Cerén, who is quietly having a good season in his own right. Kaká brought the passion midway through the first half after what he thought was a missed foul call on Molino. The energy he brought on the field paired with some of the passes he was able to connect and some timely shots on goal, and the captain was crucial to Orlando City's comeback in the second half.
Trust in the Process/Manager
There is no reason to worry about this team and its progression at this point. This team is three points out of first place after nine matches. Wouldn't you take that? There are rumblings on social media about Heath not using his subs and people calling for his job. The team was clicking for the first time all night after the Molino goal in the 67th minute. Heath elected to trust his starters, who were creating opportunities and putting the Red Bulls on the back foot. The Higuita red card completely changed his approach. Heath mentioned in the post-game press conference that the plan was to bring Carlos Rivas and Julio Baptista into the match, but, in the 85th minute, Orlando City was down to 10 men and grabbing a point was the smart thing to do. These points could be crucial in the fall.
Orlando City and The New York Red Bulls played to a gritty 1-1 tie and both teams were satisfied, if not outright pleased, to come away with a draw. The most encouraging thing is the Lions are coming back from deficits. These players believe they can come back and win matches down one or two goals. This team is on the verge of breaking out and, although not playing its best soccer right now, it is getting points.