Orlando City earned a hard fought point against the Columbus Crew, 2-2, at Mapfre Stadium in Columbus, OH, rallying from a two-goal deficit in the second half in a wide open match. Kevin Molino and Cyle Larin pulled the Lions level after facing a two-goal hole at halftime. The draw moves the Lions' winless streak to five in MLS and six in all competitions.
The first real good chance of the came from Orlando City striker Cyle Larin, who hit the outside of the post in the seventh minute. Receiving the ball to the right of goal, Larin attempted to curl the ball around Tyson Wahl to beat Steve Clark to the near post. However, the ball slammed off of the outside of Clark's left post and out for a goal kick.
After several chances, Columbus (3-7-10, 19 points) broke the deadlock in the 20th minute. Tony Tchani played a quick give and go with Justin Meram, which resulted in Tchani receiving the ball at the top of the box. A quick first touch by Tchani found him easily slicing through the Lions defense and sliding the ball past Joe Bendik to give the home side a 1-0 lead.
Orlando City (4-5-11, 23 points) nearly equalized in the 37th minute when a long ball by Servando Carrasco found Larin at the top of the box. A good first touch with his chest allowed the Lions' striker to find some room but the shot went well high of goal.
Deep into stoppage time, the Crew doubled their lead when Mohammed Saeid played Kamara through on goal. The striker attempted to carry the ball past an oncoming Bendik but the Lions goalkeeper took Kamara down, earning the Crew a penalty. With the last kick of the first half, the man who had created the opportunity converted the penalty, sending the two teams into the break with the home team leading 2-0.
While the Crew had the best of the early chances, it was Orlando City that nearly opened the second half scoring. Julio Baptista played a short ball across for Larin, who attempted to chip the ball over the Columbus goalkeeper with the outside of his right foot to cut the deficit in half. However, the ball hit the crossbar, the second time Larin hit the woodwork on the night.
While the Crew dominated the first half, the second half was a different story.
In the 60th minute, Orlando City brought on Kaká and Carlos Rivas, the former of which made an immediate difference. Just four minutes after coming on, the club captain connected on a cross with his head which rattled the crossbar. The result of the play was an Orlando City corner kick.
The ensuing corner kick was sent in by Kaká, finding the foot of David Mateos. As Mateos was pulled down, he was able to send the ball toward Kevin Molino, who stood at the top of the six-yard box. The midfielder, who was largely absent in the first half, was able to scrape the ball past Clark, cutting the deficit in half.
In the 70th minute, the visiting Lions struck again. This time Molino carried the ball down the right and sent the cross in for a waiting Larin who headed the ball toward the back post. Clark dove in an attempt to maintain the lead for the home team but the ball bounced past him for the equalizer.
Columbus pushed late attempting to find the winner. Several times in the final 10 minutes, the Crew came close but one hit the outside of the netting from Federico Higuain, Will Trapp hit a strong shot from the top of the box which just went over the goal, and Bendik was forced into some nice saves to salvage the point. On the other end, Carlos Rivas found himself with only Clark to beat but he tried to finesse the ball past and the Crew keeper blocked it.
In the end, it was a hard-earned road point for the Lions, the second consecutive after they found the same result in Vancouver last week. The point moves the Lions past D.C. United, who lost to Toronto FC, putting them in seventh, just below the red line with 23 points after 20 games.
Bobby Murphy finishes his interim head coaching stint with a record of 0-1-3, drawing Houston, Vancouver and Columbus and falling to the New York Red Bulls.
The Lions will take the field again Wednesday night in a friendly against Stoke City in Melbourne before returning to league action next Sunday against the New England Revolution at Camping World Stadium.