CHARLESTON, SC. - Orlando City SC (10-2-4, 34 points) played to a 1-1 draw against the Charleston Battery (7-2-6, 27 points) at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, S.C., Friday night. After having a goal advantage early in the second half, the Lions went down a man – allowing a last-minute score to even the match at 1-1.
An unlucky challenge got the game off on the wrong foot for the Lions, with Winger Bryan Burke going off the pitch due to an apparent leg injury in the 8th minute of play. His status will be evaluated early next week.
Sporting Kansas City loanee and Goalkeeper Jon Kempin, who was making his first start in league play in just under a month, made key saves for the Lions to keep the score line even early. One of those saves was in the 18th minute, with Battery Midfielder Michael Azira blasting a shot inside the 18-yard box only to be deflected out of danger by the Kansas native.
The goalkeeper continued to play at a high level throughout the first half, keeping Charleston scoreless despite multiple chances by the opponent’s frontline in the later part of the first half.
After the break, the Orlando offense turned up the heat-with the Lions capitalizing in the 56th minute of play. After earning a corner kick, Defender Luke Boden whipped in an attempt, finding Rob Valentino on the volley for the 1-0 advantage.
Despite the 1-0 lead, the Lions went down to 10 men after Midfielder Adama Mbengue was shown a straight red card with a challenge on the Battery in the 63rd minute of play. The man-down put Orlando at a disadvantage for the rest of the match, with Charleston capitalizing in the final minutes of regulation.
The Battery came on the offensive in the final parts of the match, attacking open spaces in the Orlando backline. The Charleston side knocked it even in the 89th minute, with Haviel Cordoves’ shot deflecting past Kempin to even the score line at 1-1. The Lions held off another late charge by the home team, taking a key point away from Orlando in the draw.
With the result, Orlando stretches their lead atop the league table over second-place Harrisburg City Islanders (31 points) by a full three points.
Orlando returns home for a rematch against the Battery on Thursday, July 11, at Fifth Third Bank Field at the Florida Citrus Bowl. For more information on the upcoming Charleston match, including ticket prices and more, visit Orlandocitysoccer.com.