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Orlando City capitalize on NYCFC mistake to come from behind and draw

Photo by Brad Penner/USA Today Sports
Photo by Brad Penner/USA Today Sports

NEW YORK — Capitalizing on an opponent’s mistake can change the outcome of a game. Orlando City just reminded everyone of that.

Kevin Molino scored a last-gasp goal to help Orlando City rally from two goals down in a 2-2 road draw with New York City FC on Sunday. Molino scored in the 94th minute of the Eastern Conference bout at Yankee Stadium after assisting on Julio Baptista’s first MLS goal earlier in the second half, but pulling off that impressive rally likely would not have been possible had it not been for a grave error from NYCFC.

After earning a penalty kick that Orlando City did not think was warranted, New York City FC had a golden chance to go up 3-0 in the 70th minute when David Villa stepped up to take the shot from 12 yards out. Villa slipped when planting his left foot on the attempt, however, and ballooned his attempt into the stands.

The door was left open for the Lions to come from behind, and they took full advantage with the first of its two goals two minutes later.

“Three-nil would have killed it,” said Orlando City head coach Adrian Heath. “Obviously, we kept going and Julio got a goal for us. Once you get to 2-1 on the back of how they’ve been the last few weeks, playing here – they’ve got more points on the road than they’ve got here. As long we stayed in the game, we had a chance, especially as we were pushing men forward.”

Orlando City knew that Sunday’s match would not be easy. NYCFC had suffered a 7-0 dismantling at the hands of cross-town rivals, the New York Red Bulls, at home last weekend, and was eager to bounce back in a big way in front of its fans.

Up for the challenge, NYCFC put up a good fight in the first half before Frederic Brilliant nodded home the opener three minutes before halftime. Patrick Vieira’s side then doubled the lead in the 66th minute when Andrea Pirlo hit an incredible diagonal ball to Villa, who chested it and lofted a looping shot past helpless Orlando City goalkeeper Joe Bendik.

Villa was unable to produce more magic in front of goal four minutes later, and his miss from the penalty spot spurred Orlando City on. Baptista opened his MLS account with a deflected low shot in the 72nd minute, and the Lions aggressively threw more numbers into the attack in search of the equalizer.

They found it moments before the final whistle, as Molino received a headed pass from Cyle Larin before showing off his own aerial ability with a thunderous nodded effort that went off the underside of the crossbar. Multiple NYCFC players crumbled to the ground in frustration while some of Orlando City’s celebrated with pure joy.

“It was a nice feeling,” Larin told SBI. “We worked all game, and it’s an away game and New York lost last weekend and they wanted to prove something this week. I think we came into this game with the right mentality and to get a tie, it’s good for us. It’s a good feeling to get that one point and go into the break three games without losing.”

Orlando City might have gone unbeaten and picked up five points in its last three matches before a pause in the action because of the Copa America Centenario, but the club still sits under the red line in the Eastern Conference. The Lions are currently in seventh place with a 3-3-7 record, and have plenty of room for improvement.

Nonetheless, Sunday showed that the club has character. Orlando City capitalized on an opponent’s mistake, and grabbed a result when it just as easily could have thrown in the towel.

“Overall the spirit in the team and the fight and the enthusiasm, it was great tonight,” Brek Shea told SBI.

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