The Chicago Fire refused to crumble under Orlando City pressure Friday, holding on for a 1-1 draw despite playing with only 10 men for 60 minutes.
A David Accam strike salvaged the point while some late heroics from goalkeeper Matt Lampson preserved the draw.
The first half was not the goal fest seen in Sunday's contest against New York City FC, but there were still significant moments with a goal scored by each team and a crucial red card given to Micael Harrington.
The Fire came out in a 3-4-1-2 with the absence of Gilberto, allowing a debuting John Goossens and Arturo Alvarez to share the field. Alvarez lined up with Matt Polster as Razvan Cocis was relegated to the bench.
Orlando City started the scoring in the fourth minute with a Cyle Larin blast, continuing his dominance against the Fire as he has played a part in five goals against Chicago in four MLS games between the teams.
Kevin Molino gathered the ball down the left side of the midfield and sauntered up the field before finding Larin in space outside the box in the middle of the field. Larin pulled off a quick change of direction to lose Jonathan Campbell and blasted a shot over the outstretched arms of Lampson.
Orlando City continued to dominate possession in the first half, but the Fire struck luck in the 14th minute when Accam's speed once again proved to be a game changer. As Orlando City pressured the Fire, Goossens played a long ball, perhaps with an eye on Accam, but also to relieve the pressure.
Despite a significant lead by center back Seb Hines on Accam, the speedy Ghanian closed the gap and beat his man to the ball, setting up a clean breakaway against goalkeeper Joe Bendik. Accam cooly slotted the ball past Bendik to make the game 1-1.
Orlando City tried to respond quickly as Molino found himself with a clean shot just outside the box, but a diving Lampson made a fantastic save to keep the game even. But the Fire had a response of their own as Accam nearly headed a Harrington cross in for a goal, but the effort went off the post.
Soon after, the Fire found themselves in foul trouble. Matt Polster made an aggressive challenge on Adrian Winter, drawing a yellow in the 28th minute. Four minutes later, things got worse for the Fire as Michael Harrington came in with a high boot that connected with Brek Shea. The challenge was enough to draw a red from the referee.
After the red card, the Fire lined up in a 4-4-1, with Johan Kappelhof moving to right back, Igboananike moving to the wing and Accam serving as the lone striker.
The Fire still battled for the rest of the half, surviving a half chance from Larin in the 35th minute courtesy of an Alvarez turnover and almost finding some magic on a corner kick in the 40th minute that Campbell couldn't get his foot on clean.
The second half was more of the same, with Orlando generally enjoying possession. Johan Kappelhof made a crucial clearance early, barely beating Larin to a ball in the 47th minute that saved an opportunity. Lampson made the first of his handful of impressive saves in the second half when he made a diving denial of a Winter shot.
The Fire were not without their chances, however. In the 68th minute, Goossens nearly had a second assist when he chipped a ball into the box that Kappelhof quickly crossed to Kennedy Igboananike in the six-yard box. Unfortunately, Igboananike could not get a touch on the ball.
Cocis, who came on for Goossens in the 72nd minute, made his presence felt quickly, drawing a foul right outside the box after only a couple minutes on the pitch. Alvarez's ensuing free kick attempt deflected right off Orlando's wall.
After that Fire chance, the last good opportunity, Orlando City put on a series of high-quality attempts than demanded the best out of Lampson. Pedro Ribeiro started the party with a shot off the post in the 77th minute. It was followed up a minute later with a tremendous Larin attempt that Lampson got a finger on, causing it to deflect off the post.
Lampson was called on one more time as Hadji Barry got free two minutes later, forcing one more strong diving save from the Fire goalkeeper.
The remaining 10+ minutes saw Orlando with the majority of possession, though Accam and Rodrigo Ramos played some give-and-go in stoppage time that led to an Accam attempt that went a little wide.
While the Fire had to bunker down more than they would have liked, it was a positive result and showed the team can overcome adversity. Playing on the road with 10 men for 60 minutes is no easy task, but Chicago held on.
The team should feel good getting its first point of the season and the goalkeeping situation is now starting to get away from Sean Johnson. Lampson had a big night and was a crucial reason for the tie. We'll see if the Fire can carry the momentum into Toyota Park next weekend to take down major rival Columbus and grab three points.
Check back later for more analysis and post game quotes.