AUSTIN (KXAN) — Somehow, Austin FC was able to salvage a point in the standings with a late goal to finish a 2-2 draw Sunday with Orlando City SC at Q2 Stadium.
What helped matters for Austin FC were two red cards given to Orlando players in the second half, forcing the visiting Lions to play with nine players in the last 25 minutes of the match.
Moussa Djitte provided the equalizer five minutes into stoppage time when he put away a corner kick at the far post past Orlando keeper Pedro Gallese. Djitte came into the match in the 75th minute, replacing Daniel Pereira.
It was a wild second half to say the least with two Orlando players being sent off. Rodrigo Schlegel was the first visitor to go after he was whistled for two handballs on consecutive plays — one for sticking his hand in front of a Jon Gallagher shot in the 58th minute and another after the ensuing free kick by Sebastian Driussi in the 60th minute.
Three minutes later, Driussi scored on a penalty kick that Gallese nearly knocked over the top of the bar with his foot, but it counted nonetheless for Austin FC, and they had signs of life in the second half.
Nine minutes later, Austin FC captain Alex Ring was running down the right flank and Orlando’s Cesar Araujo came in with a hard and high challenge on Ring, and then appeared to kick at Ring after the fact. The center official with to video replay and confirmed the dangerous play on Araujo, giving him a straight red card and a ticket to the locker room in the 69th minute.
Down two men and extremely unhappy with the center official, Orlando had to pack the box and absorb an onslaught of Austin attacks and escaped Q2 with a point.
As energetic as the second half was for Austin FC, the first half was just as dreadful. While Austin goalkeeper Brad Stuver made several critical saves in the second half to keep Orlando from extending its lead, he’ll absolutely want what happened in the second minute to be forgotten forever.
He went to pass the ball from his goal area and chunked it right to Orlando’s Junior Urso, who then calmly slid it over to Ercan Kara just outside the 6-yard box and he put it past Stuver’s left side for an inauspicious start to the match. Orlando led 1-0 and the home crowd was shellshocked, to say the least.
In the 22nd minute, Ruan Teixeira put away a rebound off a Stuver save to give the visitors a 2-0 lead. And despite Austin holding 66% of the possession in the first half, Verde trailed 2-0 and it looked like the momentum from Wednesday’s win in Los Angeles was gone.
With the draw, Austin moves to 24 points in the standings with a 7-3-3 record, remaining in second place in the Western Conference. Orlando City SC is now in sole possession of third in the Eastern Conference with 21 points and a 6-3-4 record.
Austin is back in action May 29 in Los Angeles against the LA Galaxy.