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ORLANDO — Adrian Winter scored the second of two Orlando City stoppage time goals over the span of a minute to give the Lions a 2-2 draw against Real Salt Lake in the MLS season opener.
Cyle Larin scored the first of the Lions two goals, when he finished after a pass from Brek Shea that gave him a clear shot at net for his first goal of the season.
Winter then tied the game with mere seconds remaining when Servando Carrasco booted a ball down field that ended up at the feet of Larin just outside the 18-yard box. Larin laid off a pass to Winter, allowing the Swiss national to finish for a goal and salvage a point for Orlando City.
“I asked the sideline ref and he said there was a minute left,” said Shea about the team’s mindset following the first goal. “And our only shot was to try and bomb forward and might as well go for it and Servando (Carrasco), whether he meant to play it or just played a hopeful ball, it worked out.”
The Lions went up a man in the 20th minute when Real Salt Lake defender Demar Phillips received his second yellow card of the match, resulting in a red card and his ejection from the game. Salt Lake would take a 1-0 lead two minutes later when Joao Plata tucked a penalty kick past Joe Bendik for a goal.
Orlando City would lose Darwin Ceren to a red card during the 45th minute, which resulted in both teams being down to 10 men for the second half. Plata extended Real Salt Lake’s lead to 2-0 when he scored his second goal of the match in the 65th minute after the Lions put forth multiple attacks without resolve.
“I think we were better than what we’ve shown, we can move the ball better” said Orlando City head coach Adrian Heath following the game. “But in terms of the resilience of the guys to keep going, we’ve kept going all afternoon.”
Kaka was not in the lineup for Orlando City, as he sat out due to a thigh strain but he could be back for the Lions next game against the Chicago Fire on Friday.
“Our team has been pretty settled through the preseason and to change it as much as we did wasn’t ideal,” said Heath about the injuries going into the season opener. “But that’s part of football, people get injured and you have to cope with it.”
Antonio Nocerino was also on hand, but he did not play. The Italian joined the club on Friday and hasn’t had much time to train with the team, but he could also be fit to see some minutes on Friday as well.
With the draw, Orlando City salvage a point in the standings and sit with a 0-1-0 record after the opening weekend.
Orlando City will return to the Citrus Bowl on Friday, March 11th to take on the Chicago Fire at 7 p.m EST. The Lions will be without Ceren due to his red card, but will have Cristian Higuita back following his suspension from the end of last season.