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Digging Deep: Orlando City 2, LAFC 2

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Teams trade goals and settle for a point.

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Orlando City SC Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Football Club entered their game against Orlando City SC extremely shorthanded, and it showed, as they had to fight for a 2-2 comeback draw at Exploria Stadium on Saturday.

The result was a rebound from their loss last week against Minnesota United, but in context, LAFC are now three games winless, their first such streak of the season.

As projected, with seven players out on international duty and Carlos Vela not expected to play, there was a different look to the lineup. Adrien Perez got his first career MLS start, while Lee Nguyen, Josh Perez, Tristan Blackmon and Tyler Miller also entered the starting XI. There were just five players listed on the bench by Bob Bradley, none of them attackers (because there weren’t any additional attackers available).

Adrien Perez made it a first start to remember, as he scored his first MLS goal in the 12th minute, pouncing on a loose ball in Orlando’s box and putting his foot through the ball to make it unstoppable. This, coming moments after he missed an opportunity to shoot on an open goal by sending a weak cutback that was intercepted by the Lions.

But Orlando came right back, scoring off the resulting kickoff, with Nani latching onto a ball over the top and chipping Miller to make it 1-1. And they took the lead in the 20th minute with a tap-in by Benji Michel after Orlando passed around and through LAFC’s defense.

To be honest, it was hard to follow the action in the second half, as technical difficulties on the Los Angeles-area broadcasts meant the screen continually froze or fell out entirely. Soon into the second half, Adrien Perez scored his second goal of the night, but it was chalked off for being offside.

Santiago Patiño’s shot for Orlando in the 77th minute clanged off the corner of the post, Miller beaten but his blushes saved.

A minute later, LAFC tied up the game, with Diego Rossi working a give-and-go with Adama Diomande, the Uruguayan beating the defender to the return pass and scoring a vital equalizer to give the visitors life.

In MLS, draws on the road aren’t a bad thing, and LAFC’s lineup was losing a lot of firepower, frankly, but so was Orlando’s and by the black-and-gold’s lofty standards, even a draw on the road while playing with a short squad is disappointing. It was nice to see Perez get on the scoresheet and Rossi salvaged a tough outing with his late goal, but the defense and goalkeeping was shaky and that’s the last thing you want to see with the playoffs coming.

The road trip doesn’t get any easier for LAFC, as they’ll face Eastern Conference contenders Philadelphia Union in Pennsylvania next Saturday. LAFC will stay on the road all week, and Philly were talking some trash last week about how they’re ready for LAFC to come to town, but we’ll see if LAFC can welcome back some reinforcements and use a more first-choice lineup against a stronger team next week.

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