The Orlando City Soccer Club played to a 1-1 tie against the Chicago Fire despite playing the team with a man down for 60 minutes of the game.
The Orlando City Lions faced what looked like a brand new team tonight in the Chicago Fire. The Fire had a huge overhaul in the offseason. The changes include a new general manger, new head coach, and nine new players, including six in the starting lineup.
The Fire come off of a 4-3 loss in the season opener in Chicago. They are currently in sixth place in the Eastern Conference. Orlando City is coming off of a miraculous last minute pair of goals to tie Real Salt Lake 2-2. This is also the first game for former AC Milan midfielder Antonio Nocerino. Kaka is still nursing an upper thigh injury.
Orlando City started fast when Cyle Larin drove for a goal for a quick score in the fourth minute. Orlando and Chicago go back and forth, both teams getting used to their new players. Chicago has some speedsters and Chicago’s David Accam sped past OC’s Seb Hines for an easy goal.
Chicago is banking on the counter attack tonight, by drawing back on defense and trying to catch Orlando City defenders out of position and letting their speedsters attack the goal. While Battling to defend against the Lions, Matt Polster drew a yellow card in the 28th minute, and then after conferring with the far side referred, Michal Harrington drew a red card and was ejected. From the 32nd minute on, Orlando City played 1 man up 11 men vs 10.
Chicago started the second half with a fierceness. The intensity at the beginning of the half is thick with Chicago on the attack, making quick and precise passes. Orlando caught a break and Cyle Larin was chasing a all streaking towards the Chicago goal but was injured in a collision with the goalie. Larin remained in the game.
Chicago kept the game in hand as Cristian Higuita drew a yellow card in the 62nd minute. Cigar kept playing out a strategy to kill time, lots of passes, out of bounds passes, and long kicks. Also in the 62nd minute, Antonio Nocerino called it a night and was substituted out.
In the 70th minute, as the stadium echoed with the 29,000 plus crowd’s chant of “Orlando!..City!”, Kevin Molino was tackled just outside of the penalty box,by Joao Meira, who drew a yellow card on the foul
Orlando substituted Hadji Berry in for Servant Carrasco in the 74th minute and it seemed to open things up more for Cyle Larin inside and Orlando put on a furious attack with several shots that were off target due to Chicago’s strong defense.
In the end, Chicago held them off for a 1-1 tie. With two home games, Orlando City only earned 2 points which is a disappointment.
“Obviously disappointed with the final score. We were nearly goo, but not good enough.” said Orlando coach Adrian Heath. “We had lost of balls near the net, but our quality was not good enough.”
As for new team member Antonio Nocerino’s performance, “He’s what we thought he was which is a solid footballer. It’s obvious that he has not played in some time. Match speed is hard to replicate on the practice field. But we will look forward to him getting in shape after a few matches.”
Orlando’s next games is on Friday March 18th in New York against New York City FC.