In one of Orlando's most entertaining games of the season, the Lions settled for a 2-2 draw on the road against Vancouver. It's a result that sounds great on paper and could be huge as the club looks to grab one of the last playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, but anyone who watched the match has to be a little disappointed given the chances Orlando had to claim a season-defining win.
Here are my five takeaways from a compelling evening north of the border.
Two Minutes Changed This Game
Two minutes. Two plays. Not a single goal. Yet, everything that happened in Saturday night's match came down to what happened in the 59th and 60th minute.
Júlio Baptista's penalty kick sailed into the Vancouver night (still waiting for reports of a confirmed landing) and wasted Orlando's best chance to grab all the points against seemingly impossible odds. But one minute later, Joe Bendik's point-blank save on Masato Kudo helped the Lions cheat death.
It feels like a perfect snapshot of Orlando's season. This club simply isn't good enough to take advantage of chances that the game presents, yet fantastic individual performances have managed to keep the Lions in games that should be out of reach. So, Orlando has the players, but it's going to take another gear for this team to be taken seriously in Major League Soccer.
Perhaps whoever the front office appoints to manage this bunch can help Orlando get there.
Kevin Molino and Júlio Baptista might have something here
Orlando City fans tuning in early to Saturday's match could be forgiven for adjusting their TV sets. For 20 minutes in the first half against Vancouver, Baptista and Molino looked like they'd been leading the line together for years. It was an attacking midfield created out of necessity, but it's a trio that Bobby Murphy and company may look to go back to.
With Molino luring the Whitecaps towards the end line, the 34-year-old Brazilian was able to sit back and look for space along the edge of the box. When he found it, the results were pretty. Baptista's 14th-minute strike gave the Lions plenty of life against a Vancouver side that looked downright lazy in the first half.
When these two suddenly learned to play fabulous one-touch soccer is a mystery, but it could be the spark Orlando has been missing in the final third. Of course, it didn't last once Vancouver sniffed out the strategy, but it's something postive from another frustrating result.
It's impossible to blame Cyle Larin for Orlando's recent struggles, because the guy's had everyone short of the groundskeeping staff providing him service. But on Saturday night, the Canadian made life easy for his teammates.
His equalizer came early in the second half, with Vancouver looking for a third goal and, let's be honest, an insurmountable lead against this Orlando City team. Larin's always been something of an aerial threat (go watch his goal against NYCFC from back in March. The ball just finds this dude's head) and he showed why against the Whitecaps.
It was a goal that came when neither team had managed any sort of sustained offensive pressure. Orlando may have lacked some of its playmakers on offense, but when all else fails, just have Larin run towards the goal and aim for the man's head (direct quote from my Orlando City managerial application. Your move, Phil Rawlins).
Servando Carrasco Got Owned by a Middle Schooler
Watching one of the better role players on this Orlando City team get dispossessed by 15-year-old Alphonso Davies was one of the more surreal moments of this match. The kid unleashed a screamer from well outside the box just minutes later that didn't miss by much and acquitted himself well in his MLS debut.
Major League Soccer might just have their next big thing. And he's named after the guy who played Carlton in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
Positive Result, but at This Point Draws Won't Get it Done
After everything Orlando City has gone through in the last week, Saturday night's draw was a really solid result. Flying across the continent on short rest, with an interim manager and banged up roster? Sign me up for a point.
At the same time, this match wasn't played in a vacuum. And the fact remains, Orlando City hasn't won in almost a month and now has 10 draws on the season. That's not good enough for a playoff spot, which has been this organization's stated goal for almost two years now.
Listening to the Vancouver broadcast of last night's match, I was taken aback by how little respect the announcers seemed to have for the guys in purple. They called Saturday night the end of an easy week for the Whitecaps and talked about Orlando City as if the Lions were just a speed bump the home team shouldn't overlook.
"These are the kind of results," they said, "That could cost Vancouver at the end of the season."
It was a hard-earned draw. It could have gone better and it certainly could have been worse. The key thing moving forward is to turn these draws into wins.