In arguably one of the most emotional matches in Orlando City's short history, the Lions had their hearts ripped out of their chests after Shea Salinas scored a goal in the 94th minute of stoppage time to steal the win away. Soccer became the forefront of attention for Orlando residents, with the game being the first sporting event in town since the tragic shooting one week ago.
While it certainly is a shame that Orlando couldn't pull out the victory, the game itself gave fans and members of the community a chance to come together in remembrance, mourning, celebration and to enjoy a simple soccer game.
Here are our five takeaways from the match:
This match was much more than just another game. It was an outlet for a community that has suffered through almost a week of tragedy. Last night's game gave Orlando residents a chance to heal and come together through sports. From the players walking out to The Beatles' "All You Need is Love," the National Anthem sung by all the fans, the stands being color coded like a rainbow, seats set aside with balloons to commemorate the victims, and the moment of silence in the 49th minute, Orlando fans were able to come together through sports and, for the moment, let their troubles be forgotten and let the love of the game take its place.
Orlando's Love/Hate Relationship With Stoppage Time
There's a shirt currently on the MLS website that says, "Orlando Loves Stoppage Time." Well, that's not always the case, unfortunately. There have been multiple times this year that Orlando has scored past the 90th minute. Real Salt Lake, New England Revolution (twice), NYCFC, and now, San Jose, with all those times having been equalizing goals. At the same time, Orlando has also given up goals late into stoppage time. Games against the Philadelphia Union, New England Revolution (again), and San Jose all saw goals that either snatched a draw from Orlando City or, in Philly's case, handed the Lions a loss. With tired legs and tired minds, both teams have equal chance to slip up and make mistakes and Orlando City just seems to be affected most by those moments.
The Beast Keeps Scoring
The last two MLS games for Julio Baptista have been very memorable. Up in New York, he scored his first league goal and almost scored another in stoppage time (Kevin Molino headed that one in). Then yesterday, he entered the game as a substitute and scored what was almost the game-winner for Orlando. In the nine games that he's appeared in, Baptista now has two goals and two assists. He's tied with Kaká for third on the team in goals scored and is fourth on the team in assists. To say that he has been a decent signing for Orlando City can almost be considered a bit of an understatement.
Molino, Winter and Shea Step Up for Kaká
Tonight, of all nights, Orlando City's captain was forced to miss the game due to an injury he sustained while he was with the Brazilian National team. He has now played in only half of the Lions' matches this year, which has been tough for the team's attack. In tonight's game, Kevin Molino was slotted in Kaká's normal midfield slot and was flanked by Adrian Winter and Brek Shea. All three of them did well to create for Orlando's attack and to provide chances throughout the game. It's obvious that the team misses its captain on the pitch, but credit to the three who helped Orlando's attack in his stead.
Orlando City: Kings of Draws
Two years ago, the Chicago Fire set the league record for draws with 18 in one season. With last night's result, Orlando currently has eight of them with 20 games to go in the season. Now that's not to say that Orlando will get there, but the Lions need to start winning games to avoid that mark of mediocrity. Just as of note, the Fire missed the playoffs that year and finished ninth overall in the conference standings.
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Those are my takeaways from the match. What stood out to you? Let us know in the comments below!