Los Angeles Soccer: Anthony Pulis
Orlando City SC claimed a 1-0 victory before a sparse crowd at Cal State Fullerton, knocking the Blues (5-7-2) down another peg in the standings -- to eighth -- with a rematch set for Sunday, also at Titan Stadium.
“I don't know what to say. I'm baffled ...,” said Blues head coach Charlie Naimo, whose team lost three in a row on a six-day Eastern swing that ended Tuesday. “As the game wore on, I thought we got better and better and better and just didn't produce a goal. In a tight game like this, there's not going to be a whole lot of chances.
“I was happy with the way we played. We're a good team, and [Orlando knows] it. That's two games in a row against the best team that we could've won both matches [the first, in May, was a 1-1 draw in Florida], and it wouldn't have been we got lucky. Tough shape now, man. We're in real tough shape.”
Center back Kieran Bernard headed home Anthony Pulis' corner kick in the second minute, and although the Lions (11-1-4) couldn't create a whole lot more offensively, that was enough -- especially once Dike was done.
The forward, who has six goals in 10 appearances since joining the Blues on loan from Major League Soccer's Portland Timbers, limped off with a hamstring injury just before halftime. It doesn't look to be a major ailment, but it will surely keep him out of the finale in the two-game set.
Dike had the Blues' best chance, muscling through Orlando's defense in the 28th minute for a sharp shot at the right post, but goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo made a fortunate stab to keep it out of the net.
“If we'd have played that well with Dike on the field in the second half, you've got to think he would generate three or four shots himself,” said Naimo, whose team managed just six shots, to Orlando City's eight. “So it definitely hurt us.”
Portland Timbers loaner Bright Dike scored his second goal in three games, Amir Abedzadeh was superb in the nets, and the Blues (3-2-2) played with energy and style to hold reigning champion/first-place Orlando City SC (6-0-2) to a 1-1 draw at the Florida Citrus Bowl.
“Coming off of a match in the Open Cup where there was minimal effort, it was great to see the team just leaving it on the field,” head coach Charlie Naimo told ESPN Los Angeles. “A couple guys who were not there for us Tuesday played harder tonight than I've ever seen them play. They definitely took that loss to heart.”
L.A. was looking to attack all night and was the better team at the end, creating several chances and hitting a post as it sought a late winner. That was the Blues' plan from the start, and because Tuesday's loss to the Ventura County Fusion eliminated a game next week from their schedule, that also will be the approach Saturday night against the Charleston (S.C.) Battery (4-2-0).
Orlando City went ahead in the 22nd minute, with Wes Allen powerfully heading home an Anthony Pulis corner kick, but the Blues were even within three minutes.
Dike, who played 33 minutes Wednesday night in the Timbers' friendly with Spanish club Valencia in Portland, Ore., headed home a cross from Allan Russell to tie the score in the 25th.