But the visiting Fire were strangely complacent and had to walk away from Orlando City Stadium with just a point, as Will Johnson led a defiant resistance effort that earned the Lions a hard-won draw.
Rafael Ramos drew the first ejection for a collision with Brandon Vincent just 26 minutes into the game, and Antonio Nocerino got his walking orders for a high, straight leg into Matt Polster in the 66th.
But Chicago could not make them pay, despite clanging the woodwork twice in second-half injury time.
- PURPLE IN RED: Sunday marked Ramos' first start of the season and just his third in the past year, due to a long, frustrating battle with hamstring issues. So it was bitterly ironic that he lasted less than half an hour, thanks to a red-card decision that will be hotly debated in the days ahead. The two reds brought back memories of OCSC's litany of ejections in their inaugural MLS season two years ago. The sense of injustice was palpable in the Lions' new home.
Kreis 🗣 "Bitterly disappointed" that Rafa's return was cut short. Felt he was "coming into the game" #ORLvCHI— All Orlando City (@AllOrlandoCity) June 5, 2017
- FUMBLING FIRE: A road draw is a road draw, but Chicago have every reason to be disappointed with the lack of dynamism and tempo that prevented them from getting what should have been a methodical victory against a shorthanded opponent. It might just have given the rest of the league a blueprint on how to frustrate the Fire, too.
- ROGER WILJO: Orlando's gutsy performance was a team effort, but Johnson was the chief source of inspiration. Coach Jason Kreis brought the Canadian international to central Florida over the winter to help strengthen his team's resolve and locker-room character, and this game exemplified why. WilJo is the type of midfield terrier you love having on your side, and hate playing against.
- ORL: U.S. Open Cup: Wednesday, June 14 – vs. Miami FC (7:30 pm ET)
- CHI: Saturday, June 10 – vs. Atlanta (4 pm ET | UniMás, facebook.com in US, MLS LIVE in Canada)