Through the first 15 minutes it appeared the Chicago Fire were going to be in the middle of another wide open, high-scoring match.
However, after host Orlando City and the Fire both scored early goals the Fire defense tightened up. Despite playing down a man for an hour, the Fire were able to hold on for a 1-1 draw on the road.
Cyle Larin got Orlando (0-0-2, 2 points) on the board in the fourth minute. He found some space between Fire defenders Jonathan Campbell and Johan Kappelhof, but Campbell recovered to block Larin's initial shot. However, the ball then landed right at Larin's feet and he fired home.
The Fire (0-1-1, 1 point) struggled to keep possession for much of the first half, but were able to find some chances on the counter thanks to the speed of David Accam and Kennedy Igboananike. In the 14th minute one of those chances turned into a goal. The Fire cleared the ball from the defensive zone and Accam chased the bouncing ball on the Citrus Bowl turf and burned Seb Hines to create a breakaway on goal. Accam finished for his second goal in as many games.
[SHOP FIRE: Get your Fire gear here]
The match took a turn in the 32nd minute when Michael Harrington received a red card for going into a tackle with a high foot. Orlando held nearly 70 percent of the possession in the first half, dominating even before Harrington was sent off. Once the Fire played down a man, they were forced to sit back and play on the counter the rest of the way.
Orlando finished with 65 percent of the possession, but the Fire were able to absorb the pressure. Fire coach Veljko Paunovic went with a three-man back line with rookie Jonathan Campbell making his first start alongside Joao Meira and Johan Kappelhof. Brandon Vincent and Harrington played as wing backs, pushing up for wide play when they could.
Orlando did get a few good chances in the second half, but goalkeeper Matt Lampson came up with some big saves. In the 78th minute Kevin Molino hit a laser of a shot off the outside of the post. A minute later Larin was free on the left side for a shot, but Lampson was able to get a piece of it and that one also ricocheted off the post. A minute after Larin's chance, Molino got free in the middle of the Fire defense, but Lampson got off his line to snuff out the chance.
After being derided in the opening loss to NYCFC, Lampson had a solid game. He wasn't put under as much pressure in terms of distribution, but made the saves he needed to on Friday.
Friday's match also marked the debut of John Goossens. Goossens played 73 minutes before being replaced by Razvan Cocis. He had a quiet game other than a nice chipped pass to Kappelhof that nearly resulted in a Fire goal in the second half.
One point through two matches is less than ideal for the Fire, but coming up with a point on the road while playing down a man for so long is a positive. Accam was again the Fire's best player by a wide margin and will surely again play a big role when the Fire host Columbus on March 19.