ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando City SC had a furious comeback on Sunday afternoon against Portland Timbers. After going down two goals in the second half, a late Dom Dwyer goal completed a comeback, as the Lions won 3-2.
Chaos in Orlando: Late Dom Dwyer Goal Completes Orlando City SC 3-2 Comeback
Orlando City were the better side in the first half, outshooting Portland 13-4. Just three minutes in Lamine Sané got a free header on a corner that was put wide. The Lions had several good chances led by Sacha Kljestian, Dom Dwyer, and Justin Meram, but none of them could convert.
It was Portland who got on the board first. In the 18th minute, it looked like Sebastian Blanco was sent off with a second yellow card for embellishment in the box. Head Official Baldomero Toledo chose to go to VAR to review the play. After review, Portland was awarded a PK and Blanco’s second yellow was rescinded.
Captain Diego Valeri stepped up and beat Joe Bendik with a blast inside the post. The half ended 0-1.
The Timbers found life in the second half, coming out of the locker room searching for a second goal. Within minutes of kick-off, Valeri and Blanco hit shots off the woodwork. They found their second goal in the 59th minute. It was Bill Poni Tuiloma opening his MLS account on a header off a set piece taken by Valeri. The center back rose above everyone else and thumped the ball into the back of the net.
Orlando pushed to make something of the game and the comeback did come. Substitute Chris Mueller got things started in the 80th minute on header off a corner. A minute later, Dwyer drew a questionable PK. VAR was consulted, but the play was not reviewed. Kljestian stepped up and scored to tie the match 2-2.
Mueller and fellow substitute Stefano Pinho brought energy to the attack, allowing Dwyer to get a chance and score in the 87th minute to take the lead 3-2. The match ended 3-2 as Orlando completed their comeback for back-to-back wins at home.
Three Things I Noticed:
VAR did and didn’t work: There have been lots of complaints about VAR in this early MLS season. Communication about reviews has been poor. They’ve taken time. A decision was even overturned by the MLS Disciplinary Committee. On the Blanco embellishment play, it was clear what was being reviewed and what was changed after the review.
In the second half, Orlando got the benefit of the doubt on the PK Dwyer drew. There seemed to be contact, but Dwyer appeared to initiate it and go down rather easy. VAR is still imperfect it would seem.
Late drama: Orlando City SC has a knack for late drama, with varying levels of success. Thanks to a benefit of the doubt from VAR they were able to start the comeback. Substitutes Chris Mueller and Stefan Pinho brought life, allowing the star striker to finish the job off. This team is still inconsistent, but back-to-backs wins has to feel good.
Portland struggling on the road: The Timbers have just two points from five road games to start 2018 under Giovanni Savarese. They’ve had injuries to deal with and a tough schedule to start. This squad needs a home game and a win desperately after blowing a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2.