ORLANDO, FL – Orlando City SC ( 5-4-5 20 points) dominated the first the first half of their match against Atlanta United FC ( 6-4-5 23 points), only to end up with a 1-1 draw at Exploria Stadium in front of 20,127 fans.
It was a devastating blow to the team which had the same result a week ago against rival NYCFC.
Orlando is coming off of a solid 3-1 win over Inter Miami in Ft Lauderdale on May 20th and Ercan Kara continuing to cause havoc on opponents defenses. The Lions today are pushing to take out their 4th seeded rivals from Georgia.
Kara has scored in the last three Orlando matches and brought the team MLS Team of the Matchday honored, with head coach Oscar Pareja winning the MLS Coach of the Matchday honos as well.
As the lineups were announced, the Orlando wall raised a banner showing the 007 James Bond bullet swirl, the US Open Cup under the numbers “407” and the words “Trophies are Forever”, then raising an image of Robin Jansson in a tux with a barrette in front.
The match started with Orlando having most of the push on their side, keeping Atlanta on their heels. Despite having the more aggressive side in the opening 25 minutes, they only managed one shot on goal during that time, an poorly executed header by Antonio Carlos off of a Mauricio Pareyra free kick in the 15th minute.
Orlando managed to score the games first goal when Iván Angulo got a ball free into the box, the ball was passed over to Pareyra, who sent it in to Kara. Kara tapped over to Torres, who rolled it out to Smith. Smith put in a nice shot across the face and into the far corner for the score.
Orlando continued the pressure into the second half. in the 51st minute, Wilder Categena got a ball out to Facundo Torres. Torres brought the bal p the right side and got it in to Kyle Smith. Smith fired a blast that was blocked in the scrum, but Mauricio tried to tap the ball in, but keeper Brian Guzan snatched the ball out of the air.
Orlando continued to dominate the pace for most of the game, but in the 86th minute, Atlanta acted off of a corner kick set piece. a shot was sent in from the left, which Gallese blocked, but the deflection went to the right side where Tyler Wolf was waiting in the box. Wolf shot a rising shot into goal that Gallese could not reach for the equalizer.
With the air sucked out of the crowd at that point, Pareja subbed in Ramiro Enrique for Angulo for more offensive punch.
But the energy had died off both on and off of the pitch.
Atlanta started to get to balls earlier, was pushing Orlando pushes back easily. They were winning duels, and getting to their spaces faster as Orlando tried to fight through the disappointment.
With 5 minutes of stoppage time remaining, the Stripers pushed for chances for the win, but was happy to waste the final ticks on the clock and go home with the 1-1 tie.
Orlando Head Coach Oscar Pareja was proud of his teams effort, but he and the team expressed frustration over the final result, stating that they just “have to be better”.
Orlando travels up to New Jersey to face up against the New York Red Bulls on June 3, followed by a return trip home to face the Colorado Rockies on June 10th at Exploria Stadium