A dramatic Kevin Molino goal in the 94th minute gave Orlando City SC a share of the spoils in their 2-2 draw with New York City FC at Yankee Stadium on Sunday. Orlando City stay seventh in the Eastern Conference with the tie, and are now level with fifth-place DC United and sixth-place Toronto FC on points. As for New York City FC, they dropped more points at home, and now own a dreadful (win-loss-draw) 1-2-5 record at home this season. NYCFC remain at fourth in the Eastern Conference with the draw.
Orlando City manager Adrian Heath will be pleased with his side’s resilience, but will have wanted more than two points in two games from a double-game week. New York City FC manager Patrick Vieira will be satisfied that his side responded with a better performance after getting humiliated by the New York Red Bulls last weekend, but will be frustrated that they relinquished a 2-0 lead and gave up such a late equalizer.
New York City FC put Orlando City on back foot
The game’s first scoring chance fell to Orlando City in the seventh minute. Right midfielder Adrian Winter swung in a cross from the right side of NYCFC’s eighteen-yard-box, and forward Cyle Larin redirected his cross towards the top left corner of the goal. NYCFC goalkeeper Josh Saunders saved Larin’s header on the goal line and the ball went out for an Orlando corner kick.
From then on, it was all New York City. Left forward Thomas McNamara hit the right post in the fifteenth minute, and forward David Villa wastefully shot wide after being put through by left back RJ Allen. NYCFC finally made the breakthrough in the 42nd minute. Italian maestro Andrea Pirlo sent a corner kick to Allen at the left side of Orlando’s eighteen-yard-box. The left back sent a teasing cross to the back post, and NYCFC center back Frederic Brillant rose highest to meet it, heading the ball past Orlando goalkeeper Joe Bendik and into the back of the net. It was the goal that NYCFC deserved, and NYCFC went into halftime up 1-0.
NYCFC continued to play stifling defense in the second half, and after forward Larin had a left footed shot saved by Saunders in the 61st minute, they doubled their lead. David Villa held up the ball at midfield and passed the ball to midfielder Pirlo. Pirlo saw Villa streaking through the Orlando defense, and played a beautiful lobbed ball back to his teammate. Villa controlled the ball with his chest, saw ‘keeper Bendik off of his goal line, and cheekily chipped the ball over him and into the back of the net. It was Villa’s ninth goal of the season, and the ageless Spaniard continues to carry this NYCFC team. Villa should have made it 3-0 in the 70th minute. Orlando City center back Seb Hines was penalized for a handball in the box, and Villa stepped up to take the penalty kick. However, he lost his footing just as he was about to kick the ball, and skied his PK. It was only Villa’s second miss in eleven penalty kick attempts, but it changed the course of the game.
Orlando City display the heart of a lion
Just two minutes after Villa’s missed penalty kick, Orlando City got back into the game. Center attacking midfielder Kevin Molino chipped a ball into the NYCFC box, and substitute Julio Baptista controlled Molino’s pass. Brillant inexplicably allowed Baptista to take multiple touches in the eighteen-yard-box, and Baptista made him and NYCFC pay, taking a shot which deflected off of Brillant before rolling into the back of the net.
NYCFC controlled most of the possession in the last twenty minutes, and NYCFC defensive midfielder Andoni Iraola did a particularly good job controlling possession and draining precious seconds off of the game clock. But in the 94th minute, all of that good work was undone when Orlando City equalized. Another Orlando City substitute, left winger Carlos Rivas, crossed the ball from the left byline to the right side of the NYCFC six-yard-box. Forward Cyle Larin had the wherewithal to head the ball to the center of the eighteen-yard-box, and attacking midfielder Kevin Molino redirected Larin’s header with his own header, heading the ball off the underside of the crossbar into the back of the net. Molino’s goal sparked wild celebrations on the Orlando City bench, and it turned out to be the last action of the game. When the final whistle sounded, NYCFC fans rained boos down on Yankee Stadium, while the traveling Orlando City fans celebrated an improbable road point.
Men of the match
NYCFC: David Villa
It is a shame that Villa missed his penalty kick in the 70th minute, because if he scored, NYCFC probably would have won the game. But blaming Villa for NYCFC’s self-destruction would be extremely harsh since he scored a goal and worked hard to retain possession for his team. Villa finished with eight shots, two on goal, but also won four fouls and ran Orlando’s defenders ragged. His beautiful chipped finish over Orlando goalkeeper Bendik was his ninth goal of the campaign, tops in Major League Soccer (MLS) this season, and he is arguably the most valuable player in MLS this season.
Orlando City: Kevin Molino
With star Designated Player (DP) Kaka gone on international duty, manager Heath placed Trinidad & Tobago man Kevin Molino in Kaka’s position as the center attacking midfielder. Molino responded with arguably his best performance of the season, assisting on Baptista’s goal and scoring one of the most clutch goals in MLS this season. Molino also finished with three fouls suffered, three recovery tackles, one key pass, and only five unsuccessful passes, which shows just how hard he worked in the broiling New York sun. Molino scored in Orlando City’s 2-2 draw with the Philadelphia Union last Wednesday, and two goals in a week is not too shabby for a man tabbed as one of Orlando City’s most creative players.
What's next for both teams
New York City FC will host their third straight game at home when they welcome Real Salt Lake to Yankee Stadium on Thursday, June 2nd, at 7:00 PM ET. Real Salt Lake were on the losing end of a seven-goal thriller this weekend, falling 4-3 to the Columbus Crew, and they will look to rebound against an NYCFC side that has struggled mightily at home. NYCFC manager Patrick Vieira finally has DP midfielder Frank Lampard healthy, so NYCFC fans may see Lampard start on Thursday, whether they like it or not.
Orlando City SC will be on a two-week break because of Copa America Centenario action, and they will resume MLS regular season play when they take on the San Jose Earthquakes at the Orlando Citrus Bowl on Saturday, June 18 at 7:30 PM ET.