The Lions looked to be heading to a second straight victory in league play.
But two late goals from Gyasi Zardes and Wil Trapp handed the Columbus Crew a 3-2 victory over Orlando City on Saturday night at MAPRE Stadium.
“To say we truly deserved all three points, I thought we had some chances and thought we were looking to score a couple more goals,” said Orlando City coach James O’Connor. “The effort, the commitment and the quality at times, I thought it was really good performance. We were really strong but I mean, we didn’t deserve that.”
Sacha Kljestan gave Orlando (7-12-1, 22 points) the early lead after scoring in the 16th minute. Zardes tied the game in the 51st minute, but Stefano Pinho, who was starting over Dom Dwyer, scored the go-ahead goal in the 58th minute after slotting a ball from Kljestan.
Controversy came in the 88th minute when Columbus was awarded a penalty for an apparent clear-and-obvious foul from RJ Allen despite the confusion whether VAR was ever implemented by head referee Silviu Petrescu.
“It is just really, really disappointing for the players because the players didn’t deserve that tonight, they really didn’t,” said O’Connor. “I am exceptionally proud of the players and that’s the main point that I want to get across. Everyone can see what happened.”
Zardes tied the game, 2-2, for Columbus before Trapp’s long-range strike beat goalkeeper Joe Bendik for the eventual game winner for the Crew.
16′ Sacha Kljestan
51′ Gyasi Zardes (Niko Hansen)
58′ Stefano Pinho (Sacha Kljestan)
88′ Gyasi Zardes (Penalty)
92+2′ Wil Trapp
home versus New York City FC on Thursday, July 26 at 8 p.m.
How the Lions lined up
Orlando City XI: Earl Edwards Jr (32′); Tony Rocha, Chris Schuler, Shane O’Neill, RJ Allen; Oriol Rosell, Cristian Higuita (69′), Yoshimar Yotun, Sacha Kljestan (60′), Chris Mueller; Stefano Pinho.
Bench: Joe Bendik (32′), Amro Tarek, Mohamed El-Munir (60′), Scott Sutter, Will Johnson (69′), Josue Colman, Dom Dwyer.
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