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Orlando City vs. Portland Timbers: Five Takeaways

What did we learn from Orlando City’s road draw against the Portland Timbers?

MLS: Orlando City SC at Portland Timbers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando City drew 1-1 with the Portland Timbers in a tough road match in which Orlando was missing key players due to international duty. Conceding a late penalty kept Orlando from taking all three points, but a draw in Portland is not the end of the world given the circumstances.

Here are five takeaways from the Lions’ draw with the Timbers.

Late Mistake Proves Costly

It seemed as though Orlando might be able to sneak out with two wins in two weeks playing on the west coast, however crucial mistakes late in the game meant Orlando drew with Portland. The most important mistake came in the 80th minute when Andres Perea committed a foul that led to a penalty kick. Timbers midfielder Cristhian Paredes put the ball in the back of the net to convert the penalty and level the game. It was a frustrating goal to concede for an Orlando team that went up a man after Josecarlos Van Rankin was shown a second yellow card minutes earlier. Benji Michel and Robin Jansson were both given yellow cards in stoppage time as well. Although neither card led to a goal for the opposition, Orlando should limit committing fouls and receiving cards so late in the game.

Junior Urso Continues His Excellent Play

One of the highlights for the Lions was Junior Urso’s performance as he continues to show signs of growth this season. Urso was responsible for the Lions lone goal of the day when he finished off a nice pass from Alexandre Pato in the 52nd minute. He led the club with three shots, putting two on target, and passed at a strong 88.9% success rate. It has been nice to see Urso’s game coming together this season as it gives Orlando another option on offense.

Robin Jansson and Antonio Carlos Anchor the Defense

Orlando’s defense was held together by the fantastic play of center backs Jansson and Carlos in Portland. Jansson had four tackles, three clearances, and two blocked shots to help out backup goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar. Carlos also blocked a shot and led the team with five interceptions and seven clearances. With Pedro Gallese in Peru for World Cup qualifying, it was crucial that Jansson and Carlos stepped up the way they did against a Portland offense that has some dynamic playmakers.

A Tale of Two Halves

Both Orlando and Portland came out of the gates a bit slow, with not many scoring chances generated early on by either side. One of the few chances in the first half was when Paredes missed an open header that would have given Portland the lead. Neither side had many actual scoring opportunities in the first half, but that seemed to change in the second half. Orlando got on the board early in the second half with Urso’s goal in the 52nd minute and both sides went back and forth with scoring chances for the rest of the match. The Lions’ expected goals went from 0.2 in the first half to 0.8 by the end of the match while the Timbers increased from 0.8 to 1.9 by the match’s end, meaning both squads were getting more chances in the second half than the first.

Orlando Did Well Out West

It may seem like the Lions should have left Portland with three points and I’d agree that they probably should have won. However, playing on the road in MLS is never easy, especially considering the distance the Lions traveled for this match. They did well in Portland, taking the game to the hosts and playing to win despite missing Gallese, Facundo Torres, and Sebas Mendez. This result is a good sign that this Orlando squad has plenty of fight and that bodes well for the Lions moving forward.

This is what I took away from Sunday’s road match against Portland. Let me know what you thought in the comments below and, as always, go Orlando!