Orlando City SC 2, Columbus Crew SC 2 | MLS Match Recap
ORLANDO, Fla. – Pedro Ribeiro’s return to action ruined Kei Kamara’s smash-and-grab raid for Columbus Crew SC at Orlando City SC on Saturday, salvaging a point for the home side with a stunning 89th-minute strike.
With his side trailing 2-1 to a visiting team that had played a man down for much of the game, substitute Ribeiro—seeing his first action since April 3—let fly with an opportunistic low drive from 25 yards that buried itself in the bottom right corner.
There was even time for Ribeiro to miss just to the left in stoppage time before the curtain came down on an action-packed game.
League-leading marksman Kamara scored his 10th goal of the season with a typical powerhouse header in the second half after an early lead for the Crew was cancelled out by Kaká’s fourth penalty of the season.
The last-gasp drama gave a crowd of 36,587 plenty to cheer in the end, but they could have hoped for so much more with the man advantage for more than 74 minutes.
But Columbus used all their veteran savvy to keep the league new boys at bay until the end, and fully deserved to leave Florida with a point on an entertaining night at the Citrus Bowl.
But the key moment of the game arrived in the 16th minute with the Crew SC having dominated the early going. Kaká’s far-post shot struck Michael Parkhurst on the arm right on the goal line and referee Silviu Petrescu ruled the defender moved his arm towards the ball enough to justify a penalty kick and an immediate red card for the Columbus center back.
But, despite their numerical advantage, the home team still struggled to break down a stubborn defense, with the only solid opening before halftime falling to Cyle Larin, put clear 10 yards from goal by Cristian Higuita’s astute pass. But his initial effort was blocked by keeper Steve Clark, with substitute Emanuel Pogatetz reacting quickest to clear the loose ball before Larin could follow up.
Columbus continued to threaten on the break in the second half and Hall needed to be at his sharpest to take an inviting through-ball off Kamara’s toes, but the next visiting attack in the 61st minute was more deadly.
Left back Waylon Francis forged clear on his wing and his cross was perfect for Kamara to nod his 10th of the season from the edge of the six-yard box.
If anything, however, Crew SC showed even more poise playing with the lead, defending stoutly and keeping possession well, and looking for another spark, Orlando City head coach Adrian Heath made his final two moves, throwing on Ribeiro for Larin and Lewis Neal for Eric Avila.
In the end, with Orlando struggling to do more than force a succession of corners, Ribeiro proved the home savior by pouncing on a loose ball in the Columbus half and driving goalward to fire his equalizing rocket.
Orlando now bid to build on the precious point with a trip to Chicago next Saturday while Columbus can solidify their place in the Eastern Conference playoff picture by heading to Philadelphia on Wednesday.