Saturday evening at Orlando City Stadium, the Lions played out a frustrating 1-1 draw with the Columbus Crew SC.

The draw leaves Orlando outside of the MLS Eastern Conference playoff spots with nine matches remaining in the season for the Lions, though it must be noted both Montreal and Atlanta sit ahead of Orlando City in the table and have matches in hand.

Giles Barnes scored the lone goal for Orlando canceling out a first half strike by Columbus’ Lalas Abubakar.

The draw was the fifth successive meeting with the Crew where Orlando did not earn a victory, a worrying streak considering the Crew is an Eastern Conference rival. Orlando’s last victory against Columbus was in June 2015.

Jason Kreis‘ side was trying to break out of a long funk in all competitions that essentially dates back to May and reverse a recent trend of lopsided losses and poor results against the visiting Columbus Crew.  Entering the match, the Crew sat on 35 points, five ahead of the Lions and occupying the sixth and final MLS Eastern Conference playoff spot.

Orlando City was without Kaka, who was suspended following a Video Assistant Replay (VAR) ruling at the end of the Lions 3-1 loss in Harrison, NJ against New York Red Bulls the previous matchday. While the Kaka red card appeared (to most objective observers) to be absolutely farcical, the club opted not to appeal the ruling.

The match marked the first time since 2013 newly re-acquired forward, Dom Dwyer played in front of the home faithful when he came on to the pitch at Orlando City Stadium in minute 63. Dwyer’s pace, movement and ability to find pockets of space in the Columbus defense led directly to Barnes’ equalizer and chances for the Lions after Columbus was reduced to 10 men in minute 77.  But Orlando was unable to take advantage of the circumstances and had to settle for a draw.

The Lions brought out the best in Zach Steffen, the Crew SC goalkeeper who made seven saves. Despite the draw, Orlando City and Coach Jason Kreis can take solace in the fact that for a change the Lions created more chances than the opposition and had more meaningful final third possession than the Crew SC.

Over the last few months, even when Orlando City SC has controlled possession, they’ve tended to allow the opposition too much time and space in the final third and have had a difficult time sustaining attacking moves themselves. It’s too early to see this match as a turning point, but it very well might represent one as the Lions did not look like they were lacking organization at the back or running out of ideas going forward as we’ve regularly seen in recent matches.

GAME LOG: 

SCORING SUMMARY

CLB – Lalas Abubakar (Waylon Francis) 35’

ORL – Giles Barnes (Cristian Higuita) 67’

GOALS/ASSISTS

CLB – Lalas Abubakar (Waylon Francis) 35’

ORL – Giles Barnes (Cristian Higuita) 67’

DISCIPLINARY SUMMARY

CLB – Lalas Abubakar (caution) 16’

ORL – Yoshimar Yotun (caution) 28’

CLB – Cristian Martinez (caution) 55’

CLB – Harrison Afful (ejection) 77’

CLB – Mohammed Abu (caution) 81’

CLB – Justin Meram (caution) 88’

LINEUPS

Columbus Crew:  Zack Steffen; Jonathan Mensah, Josh Williams, Lalas Abubakar; Harrison Afful, Mohammed Abu, Wil Trapp ©, Waylon Francis; Cristian Martinez ( Pedro Santos 62’) , Justin Meram ( Jukka Raitala 89’) ; Ola Kamara.

Substitutes not used: Brad Stuver; Adam Jahn, Hector Jimenez, Alex Crognale, Nicolai Naess.

Orlando City:  Joe Bendik; Scott Sutter, Tommy Redding, Leo Pereira, Donny Toia (Richie Laryea 83’); Will Johnson © (Cristian Higuita 32’), Antonio Nocerino (Dominic Dwyer 63’), Yoshimar Yotun; Giles Barnes; Cyle Larin, Carlos Rivas.

Substitutes not used: Josh Saunders; Jose Aja, Servando Carrasco, Dillon Powers.

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