Orlando City’s 2-2 draw with Crew SC in Columbus on Saturday night was truly a game of two halves.
During the first 45 minutes, Columbus controlled the match, dominating possession and taking a 2-0 lead to the break as Orlando struggled to cope on the road.
“I just told the guys in the locker room, I’ll take responsibility for the first half,” interim head coach Bobby Murphy said after a second-half comeback made it 2-2. “Because I think I maybe gave Columbus too much credit or our guys not enough credit and we sat off a little bit and the mindset was one of absorbing when that wasn’t necessarily intended.”
During second 45, Orlando turned things around. Goals by midfielder Kevin Molino and forward Cyle Larin five minutes apart changed what could have been another tough road loss in a so-far rough season into a potential springboard going forward.
“We made some tactical adjustments and tried to play higher up the field and I challenged them,” Murphy explained. “I asked them if anyone wanted to quit, they can stay in [the locker room]. Just let me know. Not one of them did. They all followed me out and I think their performance showed that in the second half.”
While the turnaround started from the second half whistle, the game changed with the introduction of Kaka. The Brazilian playmaker missed the last three games with a calf injury and came off the bench for the Lions in the 60th minute.
Five minutes later, Molino scored to cut the deficit in half and the Larin equalizer came shortly after.
“He is who is because of what he’s done and he’s an unbelievable player,” Murphy said of his No. 10. “I think having him on the field gives the other players a bit of confidence when they know they can play through.”
Despite Kaka’s influence on the match, the turnaround was about the collective. The players fought for their interim boss as well as Jason Kreis, who will take over the team for good on Monday.
“I think one thing you can’t question about them is their resiliency,” Murphy said. “Knowing all the circumstances going on… they went out and did the job. I just told them how proud I was and how grateful I was for their efforts and they were great.”