Nani, Michel score for Orlando City in 2-2 draw against LAFC

Orlando City SC (9-13-8, 35 points) battled to a 2-2 draw with league-leaders Los Angeles FC (19-4-6, 63 points) on Saturday night at Exploria Stadium. Nani scored his team-leading tenth goal of the season in the match, while Benji Michel found the back of the net for the third time this season.

Head Coach James O’Connor:
“[I’m] very proud of the players. I thought the effort they gave tonight was excellent. I thought the commitment was fantastic. I think when the officials maybe go back and have a look at it I think they’ll perhaps be a little bit disappointed with their performance. Our performance I thought was excellent, I thought the guys gave everything. When you look at how good LAFC are, you look at how we managed the game and you look at the problems we caused them and on another night we would’ve won the game.”

Scoring Recap:

12’ Adrien Pérez - LAFC 1, ORL 0
The visitors got on the board first with Adrien Pérez jumping on a loose ball in the box, sending the ball into the back of the net off the glove of goalkeeper Brian Rowe.

13’ Nani - ORL 1, LAFC 1
The Lions responded almost immediately, with Nani finding Cristian Higuita on the ensuing kickoff. Higuita found the Portuguese midfielder once more, sending a ball through in behind the LAFC defense. Nani took one touch into the box before chipping it over the head of goalkeeper Tyler Miller for the finish.

20’ Benji Michel (Ruan, Cristian Higuita) - ORL 2, LAFC 1
City took the lead with Higuita finding Ruan on the run down the right side of the penalty area, who sent a ball across the face of goal for Benji Michel. The Lions’ Homegrown forward slid onto it for the first-time finish, his third of the year.

78’ Diego Rossi (Adama Diomande) - ORL 2, LAFC 2
The visitors leveled once more, with Diego Rossi combining with Adama Diomande at the edge of the area, who played Rossi in behind the City defense for the finish.

Match Notes:
•    Nani scored his tenth goal of the season in the match, now leading the Lions in finishes in 2019. 
•    Benji Michel found the back of the net for the third time this season with his finish in the 20th minute.
•    Ruan recorded his fifth assist of the season on Michel’s finish, now trailing only Nani on the squad with eight this season. Higuita earned the secondary assist on the finish, his second of the year. 
•    Santiago Patiño made his first appearance for the Lions since July 21 against the New York Red Bulls. 
Next Match: City closes out a two-game home stand when it hosts the New England Revolution on Saturday, Sept. 14 at Exploria Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET.