Major League Soccer ordered that last night’s postponed match at Talen Energy Stadium be played the next day and it was apparent that the Lions weren’t willing participants. After an extra night in Philadelphia, Orlando City came out of the gate lethargic, fell behind early, came from behind to take the lead late, and then threw that lead away even later in a crazy 2-2 draw against the Union.
Marco Fabian put the hosts ahead early but Dom Dwyer’s incredible header drew the Lions level on a free kick delivery by second-half sub Nani. Santiago Patino came on for Dwyer and scored what appeared to be the game winner with his first touch, only to see Kacper Przybylko score in the 90th minute to steal two of those three points away from the Lions.
Orlando (6-9-4, 22 points) is winless (0-1-1) in July after a 4-1 run in June in all competitions. The Lions simply got overmatched and outclassed by Philadelphia (10-5-6, 36 points) for much of the game, but made the most of some late set pieces to at least be in position for a road win over the Eastern Conference’s top team. Orlando City has now taken points in six of 10 road matches this season.
James O’Connor stayed with the lineup announced Saturday night.
Orlando City hadn’t even yet possessed the ball from the opening kickoff when Fabian opened the scoring in the fourth minute. After the Union pinged the ball around the back for a while, they advanced down their right side and Fafa Picault was given plenty of space to cross in for Fabian — under zero pressure himself in the area from Alex De John — to just help into the corner of the goal with a slight nod.
Orlando should have equalized in the seventh minute. Uri Rosell sent a ball that fell for Dwyer’s perfectly timed run, but the striker needed a few steps to control it. Jack Elliott closed him down just as he prepared to fire and looked to bother Dwyer just enough to fire it at Andre Blake, who saved it easily.
Carlos Ascues gifted the ball to Philadelphia with a turnover and Przybylko came forward, cut across the back line and fired a shot past Shane O’Neill that Brian Rowe saved.
Haris Medunjanin fired a shot just a foot wide in the 19th minute after finding too much room at the top of the half circle.
Around the half-hour mark Orlando changed to a 4-3-3, moving O’Neill out to right back and pushing Kyle Smith up into the midfield. The Lions got a bit more possession but it didn’t really change things much, aside from calming the Union threat a bit. Orlando still never looked a threat to score or even to be able to get into position to become dangerous at all.
Fabian tried a long-range effort at the 30-minute mark but it wasn’t close to the target. A minute later, Danilo Acosta found Dwyer up top with a long cross but the forward headed well over the target under pressure from former Lion Aurelien Collin.
The last decent chance of the opening period went to Philadelphia off a corner in the 35th minute Przybylko had the ball fall at his feet on a corner kick scrum and fired on target but Rowe tipped it over.
The lethargic half finally came to an end with the hosts still holding their early 1-0 lead. Shots were in favor of Philadelphia, 7-2 (3-1 on target). The Union held a whopping 64% of the possession, which had been as high as 75% around 20 minutes into the match, and Philly out-passed the Lions, 89%-80%.
The second half started out with a couple of half chances for Orlando. Smith drilled a shot from distance way over the crossbar and then Acosta crossed in behind Dwyer, who tried a bicycle kick but could only pop it up.
After that, the Union had a protracted spell of possession that ended with a shot by Picault that Rowe stopped in the 54th minute. Philadelphia didn’t stop coming, however, with Medunjanin firing over the bar again in the 57th minute and then Picault firing a cross from Przybylko straight at Rowe in the 58th.
On one of Orlando’s rare buildups, Dwyer found space outside the box, turned, and fired a laser just wide to the right of goal in the 60th.
The game changed in the 64th minute when Nani subbed on for O’Neill, who had a tough game after several hard collisions. O’Neill went to the locker room and Smith dropped from the midfield to right back.
Two minutes later, Benji Michel made a nice run up the right side, holding off Kai Wagner, who eventually fouled him, setting up a free kick from long range out on the right. Nani stepped up to deliver the set piece and picked out Dwyer, who redirected the cross inside the far post with the back of his head to makt it 1-1 in the 67th minute.
It was Dwyer’s second goal in his last three appearances, with the lone scoreless game being Wednesday when he got a run-out while his team was down two men.
With the score tied and both teams a bit tired, O’Connor brought on Chris Mueller for Michel in the 74th minute and Santiago Patino for Dwyer in the 80th, just after a Smith cross attempt had been knocked out for a corner. Nani delivered a ball into the box that Mueller nodded toward goal, but right at Blake, who fought it off. Patino swooped in and tapped home the rebound with his first touch to make it 2-1 with just nine minutes left in normal time. It was the rookie’s first MLS goal.
Philadelphia made some offense-for-defense subs and curiously won a free kick after Ascues cleanly cleared the ball in front of Collin, who was ducking down to try to head a low bounce. Collin bundled into Ascues after the Peruvian had cleared the ball and a free kick in a dangerous spot was awarded to the Union. Fortunately, Medunjanin’s free kick was blocked by the wall and Alejandro Bedoya headed the cross from the ensuing corner kick over the bar after Rowe had fallen down on the play.
The hosts leveled the game in the 90th minute. Philadelphia overloaded the right side of Orlando’s defense and made the most of it. Patino collapsed on Anthony Fontana, who was already covered by Mueller. Fontana slipped a pass to Matthew Real on his right and Smith was forced to step up, leaving space for Przybylko to run into, out-pacing Ascues with his run. Real found Przybylko, who slotted into the far corner to tie the game.
The Lions still had plenty to do to lock down that point in the five minutes of stoppage time. The added time only produced one clear-cut chance but it was a doozy and it was for the Union.
Real was all alone on the left after a throw-in and sent in a dangerous cross met by the head of an onrushing Elliott. Rowe made the save of the game to keep it out with a strong left hand and preserved the point for Orlando.
The Lions were out-shot, 21-7 (7-4 on target), out-possessed (62%-38%), and out-passed (89%-77%), but Philadelphia couldn’t out-score them. Considering City trailed the game for an hour and didn’t appear to present any real threat for much of the match, the point is perhaps fortunate, but it will feel to the team like points lost due to the 90th-minute equalizer.
The Lions are back in action at home on Wednesday night in U.S. Open Cup action when New York City FC visits Exploria Stadium. Orlando hosts Columbus next Saturday as the Lions try to get back on track in league play.