A relatively tame first half gave way to a wild and crazy second half that ended in the Union walking out of Orlando with a single point courtesy of their 2-2 draw Wednesday night at Camping World Stadium.
Despite there not being any first half goals, the strength of the Union backline really showed through. Richie Marquez's slide-tackling was on-point as usual, Keegan Rosenberry completley shut down Kaka, and Josh Yaro continues to exhibit defensive growth to go along with his already impressive range.
At the 36th minute of the first half, fans were shown a sign of things to come for the second half. With Kaka running into the box, Andre Blake ran out to greet and with some light contact and inadvertently tripped him up. While contact was certainly made inside the box, Kaka sure found a way to make a meal of it in front of referee Sorin Stoica who blew the whistle for the penalty. But in a classic case of "ball don't lie," Kaka put forth one of his weaker career penalty efforts which Blake had no problem parrying aside for a corner kick.
Things took a turn for the worse as the match entered first half stoppage time. Josh Yaro went down with what appeared to be a dislocated shoulder. While there are hopes that the injury is not serious as Yaro has been improving well, his substitution paved the way for the Union's offensive hero of the match, Ken Tribbett, to enter.*
*This is a sentence I always just assumed I'd never type.
The second half began with the match still scoreless, but the Union were quick to change that. Ken Tribbett's free kick found the head of Chris Pontius who directed the ball to an unmarked Tranquillo Barnetta. Barnetta used Orlando's defensive gaffe to his advantage as he slammed the ball home past Orlando keeper Joe Bendik to put the Union up 1-0 with a beautiful highlight reel goal. And astonishingly, a free kick to set up a goal would not be Tribbett's biggest offensive contribution of the evening.
About five minutes later the Union had a golden opportunity to go on top 2-0. Sebastien Le Toux slipped C.J. Sapong through the central defenders and seemed like he would have a golden opportunity to have a go at Bendik. However, Tommy Redding did well to recover and affect Sapong just enough that he gave Bendik an opportunity to make a quality save, and unfortunately for the Union, Bendik obliged.
The Union seemed to have the better control of play throughout the second half, but Orlando City nevertheless managed to score quite a fluke goal. A long ball from Orlando seemed harmless enough, but with Blake running to catch it and with Cyle Larin, Richie Marquez, and Fabinho running to track it down, a massive collision with Blake occurred. Larin seemed to get the bulk of Blake, but Marquez and Fabinho were involved as well. With Blake down, the ball went right to 2nd half substitute Kevin Molino who had no problem scoring in a wide open net to even the ledger at 1.
If you thought it would be impossible for Orlando to score a weirder goal than that on the night, think again. A simple Kaka cross found Larin in the box near goal. Larin chested it toward the net only to be denied by Blake. Blake tried to parry it away and sensing danger, Fabinho attempted to clear it away from goal and appeared to have succeeded but all of a sudden Stoica signaled goal for Orlando City. For a goal to count in MLS, all of the ball must cross all of the line, and based off the admittedly not great camera angles provided by CSN, it certainly appeared as if barely even a fraction of the ball had crossed even part of the line. Without goal-line technology it will never be known for certain whether or not the goal should have counted, but all evidence seemed to indicate that Orlando stole a goal here from the Union. Ironic, considering the uproar that occurred following the Union's game-winning goal the last time these two teams met.
With the game in the 75th minute, the Union found a way to equalize, getting a goal from a most unlikely hero. Barnetta's short corner kick to Le Toux found its way back to Barnetta who cleverly sent the ball low into the box at an angle challenging to Bendik. Bendik attempted to deflect it away from danger, but he only accomplished a forceful roll of the ball right at the foot of Tribbett. Despite never being known for any offensive prowess, Tribbett was faced with an open net and Tribbett did not miss, giving the Union a deserved equalizer on the evening's final goal.
The Union will probably be wishing for better from this match given the method in which Orlando scored both of their goals, however the Union did well to battle back and equalize in the face of adversity. Up next, things will get much more difficult for the Union as they will be given little rest before making a trip to Colorado to take on the first place Rapids this Saturday. Given that the Rapids currently lead MLS in points per game, this should provide a nice test for the Union in Andre Blake's last match before he joins his fellow Jamaicans in preparation for the Copa America Centenario.