ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – Sporting Kansas City forward Latif Blessing scored his first two goals of the season including the equalizer in the 74th minute, to help Sporting KC tie Orlando City 2-2 on Saturday night at Orlando City Stadium. Blessing’s second goal of the game allowed Sporting KC to do something no team has done in the opening five games in the “City Beautiful” all season along: earn a point.
“He’s a little bit of an X-Factor. He’s got a great nose for the goal, incredible instincts in and around the attacking third. Those were two very opportunistic goals tonight. He gave a great effort tonight and that’s what I commend him for the most.” – Sporting Kansas City Head Coach Peter Vermes on Latif Blessing’s 1st start of the season
Blessing, who started in the place of Sporting KC’s leading goal scorer Dom Dwyer, opened up the scoring in the 9th minute after Gerso Fernandez’s cross was re-directed by Sporting captain Matt Besler and left Blessing wide open in front of the net to clean up the rebound after Orlando City goalkeeper Joe Bendik could not hold on to the Besler shot. That goal was the first time that Orlando City has trailed in any game at home this season.
Orlando City had a chance to steal a victory when Jose Aja’ had his goal disallowed after Will Johnson’s corner kick went out of bounds, before the 6’4″ Aja had a chance to head in the game-winning goal.
“The linesman put up his flag right away, immediately after Will (Johnson) kicked the ball. I’m certain that he believes the ball was out. That’s all. Hard for me to see from my angle.” -Orlando City Head Coach Jason Kreis on the disallowed goal
Orlando City responded to Blessing’s early goal with Cyle Larin ending his goal drought when he tied the game in the 16th minute. Larin received a perfect cross from Carlos Rivas to get the home crowd on its feet. Rivas’s assist was his fifth of the season and set a single-season career high in assists for him.
City took the lead in the 26th minute when Kaka’ scored his third goal of the season. Kaka’ received a perfect pass from defender Scott Sutter and fired the ball to the far post, beating Sporting goal keeper Tim Melia to give Orlando a 2-1 lead. Even though City was up at the half 2-1, Sporting held a decisive edge in possession percentage and looked like they in were control.
The team plays two games this upcoming week. They start with a mid-week trip to take on San Jose on the road on Wednesday night, then return to Orlando City Stadium next Sunday afternoon as they take on the New York City FC, whom they defeated in the season-opening contest 1-0.
- Larin (7th of season) | Assist: Rivas- 16th minute
- Kaka (3rd of season) | Assist: Sutter- 26th minute
- Blessing (1, 2) – 9th and 74 minute
- Higuita (Yellow) – 40th minute
- Zusi (Yellow) – 48th minute
- Sanchez (Yellow) – 78 minute
- Blessing (Yellow) – 79 minute
- Barnes for Rivas – 64th minute
- Gil for Higuita – 64th minute
- Saad for Blessing – 80th minute
- Medranda for Mustivar – 86th minute
- Abdul-Salam for Sinovic – 90th minute
Danny Thompson is a contributing reporter for Florida National News. | firstname.lastname@example.org