Orlando City held up under tough pressure, securing a point on the road.
While both teams had chances, the Lions and Rapids defenses held strong and were able to get clean sheets for both Joe Bendik -- his third -- and Tim Howard -- his fourth.
Now, without further ado, let's jump into the takeaways for the match.
Changes Help the Defense, but Still Work to Do
Jose Aja and Mikey Ambrose made their starting lineup debuts for the Lions -- Ambrose his MLS debut -- and the defense was able to hold one of the best teams in MLS this season with fewer chances and spaces to create. Through the first half, the back line held strong, made clinical tackles, and limited the Rapids' opportunities to create goals. The second half saw Colorado get more space and more players going forward, but Aja, Mateos, and later Tommy Redding, were able to stop Colorado from putting one in the back of the net. Antonio Nocerino also did his part in the defensive midfield, cutting passing lanes and coming up with some key tackles down the stretch. Still, there were some miscues towards the end of the game which provided some nervy moments for Orlando, but it was improved.
No Kevin Molino, Not a Lot of Offense
It's almost impossible to replace your second leading goal scorer and your leading assist man, but that's what Orlando has been forced to do for most of the last two games. Molino, who is dealing with tightness in his hamstring, did travel with the team to Colorado, but was not a part of the 18. Hopefully, the Trinidadian will be good to go on Wednesday in a crucial game against second-place Toronto FC.
Nocerino Finally Getting It Done
In arguably one of his best performances in an Orlando City uniform, Antonio Nocerino played a Man of the Match caliber game on the defensive side of the ball, as well as working the ball into the offensive end of the pitch. It's been a long, tough road for Nocerino since joining Orlando City, but the Italian has gained the trust of his new coach and has put in performances in the defensive midfield worthy of the starting position. With the playoffs on the horizon, it's the perfect time for him to have everything work for him.
Yet Another Draw
With the scoreless draw, Orlando City has now drawn 13 games on the season. While this was still a big road point in Colorado, with the altitude and travel to consider, it's still only five draws away from the record set by the Chicago Fire in 2014. This means if the Lions draw half of their remaining games, they will tie the infamous record. Obviously it's not something that the team wants to do, so the fewer draws over their final 10 games, the better chance the Lions have to stay out of the record books for the wrong reasons.
Playoffs Still in Sight
Two tough games are ahead of the Lions. Wednesday's game is against Toronto FC, which has won five of six, while next Sunday's opponent, New York City FC, is undefeated in its last four games and currently sits in first place in the East. Orlando currently sits one point above the red line and at this point in the playoff race, the Lioins will need all the help they can get to make it.
Those are my five takeaways from last night’s match. Anything I missed? Let me know in the comments below.