Orlando City traveled across the country to San Jose where the Lions faced the Earthquakes in a midweek game. The Lions thought they had won all three points when Carlos Rivas gave the away side the lead with 10 minutes left but Chris Wondolowski drew the Quakes even just two minutes later, resulting in a 1-1 draw at Avaya Stadium.
Jason Kreis went with an unconventional lineup just days after a hard-fought 2-2 draw at home against Sporting Kansas City, giving two players their MLS debut and changing shape.
While San Jose (4-4-4, 16 points) had some attacking opportunities in the game, Orlando City (6-3-2, 20 points) was the better team throughout. It started early for the Lions when an unmarked Cyle Larin headed a cross just over the bar from six yards out in the 10th minute. Eight minutes later, the Lions’ star striker found himself with another opportunity. This time his header was down and toward the corner but San Jose goalkeeper David Bingham was able to get a hand on it, denying the Lions the early lead.
In the 32nd minute, the Lions came closest to taking the lead from an unlikely source. Left back PC found himself with the ball outside the box and decided to take a shot on goal. The ball beat Bingham and ricocheted off the crossbar.
The best first half opportunity for the home side came from Albanian midfielder Jahmir Hyka. With a free kick just outside the box, Hyka was looking for the top corner but the ball drifted a little too close to Lions goalkeeper Joe Bendik, who was able to tip the ball over the bar.
The second half started much like the first, with the Lions seeing the majority of the possession and the chances. Just five minutes into the half, Jose Aja saw an opportunity off of a corner kick, heading the ball just over the bar. Shortly after, Luis Gil found some space but his shot rolled into the arms of Bingham.
With Orlando City seeing most of the possession and chances throughout the game, Jason Kreis decided to go for all three points by bringing on club captain Kaká and striker Carlos Rivas. While Kaká struggled to maintain possession and Rivas skied an opportunity shortly after coming on, the two would combine to give the Lions the lead.
In the 81st minute, Kaká played a ball toward the end line for PC to the left of the Earthquakes’ goal. With his first touch of the attack, the overlapping PC played the ball across to the penalty spot, where Rivas was coming on. Calm and collected, Rivas softly touched the ball into the right corner past Bingham to give the visitors the late lead.
It looked as though the Lions were going to walk away with all three points from their trip out west but the Quakes had a quick response. In the 83rd minute, an Earthquakes corner found the head of Anibal Godoy who knocked it back to Tommy Thompson at the top of the box. Thompson shot toward the upper left corner of Bendik’s goal but the looping ball found the foot of Chris Wondolowski, kept onside by Will Johnson, who touched it past Bendik and in for the equalizing goal.
With the game back even, Orlando City wanted to grab the three points they felt they deserved and San Jose felt a new sense of confidence. This made for an open game as the minutes wound down. The Lions nearly did find the winner through their captain one minute into stoppage time. Kaká found himself in on goal but, coming off his line, Bingham was able to make the save and secure the draw.
Despite playing a weakened side, resting several starters and with Jonathan Spector suffering an illness, the Lions had the best of the chances throughout and deserved all three points. However, they’ll gladly take a point out west and return home looking to keep up their undefeated run to open Orlando City Stadium facing New York City FC on Sunday night.