Orlando City SC 1, Chicago Fire 1 | MLS Match Recap

ORLANDO, Fla. – Thunderstorms and torrential rain tried their best to keep Orlando City SC and the visiting Chicago Fire off the Citrus Bowl turf. But the battle of two fading playoff hopefuls did finally go the full distance – albeit to the satisfaction of neither team.

David Accam put the Fire in front with a fine solo effort on the half-hour mark, only for the hosts to level on an Eric Gehrig own goal – created by the hard work of Cyle Larin – seven minutes later.

With games fast running out for both the Lions and Fire, a point apiece was hardly what the postseason doctor ordered. But the soggy stalemate was a fitting close to an end-to-end game that ultimately failed to live up to its early promise.

The teams had to endure two lengthy storm delays as the remnants of Hurricane Erika washed across Central Florida. The first prevented kickoff for 110 minutes, then the second brought the game to a halt for another 67 minutes before the midway point of the first half, meaning that the match, nominally a 7:30 pm local kickoff, didn’t actually conclude until 12:10 am.

Orlando coach Adrian Heath again had to shuffle his lineup due to more suspensions, while Fire boss Frank Yallop had the luxury of naming the same team from their big 3-2 midweek win over the New York Red Bulls. And it was Accam who made the big breakthrough after the long rain delay, striking in the 30th minute as he picked up a crossfield ball on the left byline, cut inside defender Corey Ashe and fired a quick, low shot inside Tally Hall’s near post to record his seventh tally of the year.

Just seven minutes later, Lewis Neal served up a dangerous right-wing cross and Gehrig deflected the ball over his own goalkeeper, Sean Johnson, as he tried to stop Larin getting there first.

The goal was initially credited to the Canadian striker and looked to have given him the new MLS rookie scoring record, surpassing Damani Ralph’s 11-goal total in 2003. But it did at least break City’s 373-minute goal drought since they last scored against Toronto on August 5.

The Lions could well have gone in at the break with a 2-1 lead as Larin did superbly to muscle his way to the byline from Luke Boden’s pass and cross low to the far post, but Neal managed to scoop the ball over the bar from seven yards out.

The open play continued after the break with both teams knowing a point probably wouldn’t do much to keep their flickering playoff hopes alive, and home captain Kaka had two good looks at goal without seriously troubling Johnson.

Then it was the Fire's Joevin Jones crossing for Accam, whose quick turn and shot was blocked by Orlando defender Aurelien Collin.

Yallop threw Harry Shipp into action on the hour mark in place of Patrick Nyarko, but it was Orlando who slowly began to impose their authority on the game, with Carlos Rivas looking dangerous down the left and Neal playing some intelligent passes from midfield.

However, as the game ticked into the final 15 minutes, no one showed the necessary drive and creativity to grab all three points. The Lions came closest on 82 minutes as Larin’s storming run and cutback down the right laid the goal open for Rivas, but the Colombian winger – still looking for his first MLS goal – could only hit the outside of the post from 10 yards.

Accam then threatened a one-man counter-punch with a long run from halfway past a retreating City defense, but he failed to beat Hall with a near-post flick, finding only the outside side netting.

Orlando midfielder Darwin Ceren had the final word with a stinging 25-yard drive that Johnson turned over acrobatically in injury time.

Both teams will now be on the road next Saturday, with Orlando facing the trip to New England (7:30 pm ET), while Chicago travel to Montreal (8 pm ET, MLS LIVE).

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