KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Orlando City’s comeback fell short Saturday night at the Walt Disney Pro Soccer Classic, with the Lions dropping in the final round of group play against Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew 3-2. Down by one goal and playing with just 10 men late in the match, Orlando equalized but a late penalty kick by the Crew ended the match in the 3-2 scoreline.
Columbus, who came into the match already locked for next week’s championship match, continued their top-level play with an early Agustin Viana score. Federico Higuain attempted a free kick after an Orlando foul outside the 18’ yard box in the 3rd minute, connecting with the streaking Viana to put Columbus up 1-0 early.
After the first few minutes of the match passed, the Lions settled down, keeping up with the MLS side while creating chances of their own. New signing and Forward Long Tan continued to impress, making smart runs down the pitch and showing chemistry with fellow striker and 2012 USL PRO leading scorer Dennis Chin. The defense also showed it’s strengths, with key plays from former Orlando City U23s Defender Oumar Diakhite and Goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo keeping the scoreline 1-0 to the Crew as the halftime whistle blew.
Orlando got on the scoreboard in the 57th minute, when Jamie Watson’s chip shot slid by Crew Goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum to level the match a 1-1. Taking the correct angle on the right side of the pitch, Watson’s low roller equalized the match for the Lions-giving them increased energy heading into the final 30 minutes.
Just as the momentum swung City’s way, things turned for the worse for Orlando once a second yellow was shown to Midfielder James O’Connor in the 67th minute. Down a man, the Crew capitalized in the 74th minute. Columbus Defender Josh Williams elevated on a corner kick, slotting the shot home for the 2-1 lead.
The Lions refused to quit, though, equalizing on a Brian Fekete shot that bounced around the box before going in the back of the net in the 79th minute. The goal tied the match at 2-2, with the score lasting 10 minutes before a penalty kick taken by Federico Higuain giving Columbus the 3-2 lead and victory.
Orlando next opponent is TBD for the PSC final next Saturday, February 23. For ticket information on next week’s Disney PSC match, visit http://bit.ly/fqNhKe. Be sure to also check back on OrlandoCitySoccer.com for next week’s opponent and time of match.