Everything the L.A. Blues lacked in Tuesday's U.S. Open Cup defeat was present Thursday night, when they took the game to the USL Pro's top club and opened a two-game, three-day East Coast trek with a point.
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.
Dike was partnered for the first time by former Chivas USA star Maykel Galindo, who is still finding game fitness after his first real game action in seven months in Tuesday's loss.
“It's a real good result in Orlando, especially because we weren't sitting in, playing for a tie,” Naimo said. “We went after them, we played at them. Bright, after playing last night and flying all day, played 90 minutes, Maykel had a good 60, and he's not even close to 100 percent. When he's [fit], those two will definitely be a handful.”
Orlando City forward Dennis Chin's speed caused the Blues some concern, especially in tandem with former Real Salt Lake/FC Dallas forward Jamie Watson's guile, but Abedzadeh, just 19, was expert coming off his line controlling his box.
The crowd of 7,231, the fifth-largest in the third-division USL Pro this season, is the biggest to see the Blues, who debuted last year.
Florida Citrus Bowl (Orlando, Fla.)
Orlando City SC 1, L.A. Blues 1
OC -- Wes Allen (Anthony Pulis) 22
LA -- Bright Dike (Allan Russell) 25
Orlando City SC: Miguel Gallardo; Erik Ustruck, Kieran Bernard, Wes Allen, Luke Boden; Kevin Molino, James O'Connor (Ian Fuller, 85), Anthony Pulis, Charlie Campbell; Dennis Chin (Matt Luzunaris, 63), Jamie Watson (Maxwell Griffin, 63). Unused subs: Kyle Davies, Sean Kelley, Jerome Mechack, John Rooney.
L.A. Blues: Amir Abedzadeh; Bryan Burke, Ebrima Jatta, Erlys Garcia, Sun-Hyung Cho (Israel Sesay, 89); George Davis IV, Allan Russell (Cory Miller, 71), Ricky Waddell (Cheun-Yong Park, 62), Carlos Borja; Bright Dike, Maykel Galindo (Ladislas Bushiri, 66). Unused subs: Irving Garcia, Jose Miranda, Shay Spitz.
Yellow cards: Dike 52, Russell 75.
Referee: Jonathan Weiner. Att.: 7,231.
Records: Orlando City SC 6-0-2, 20 points; L.A. Blues 3-2-2, 11 points.
And here's a summary of the Blues' U.S. Open Cup game Tuesday vs. Ventura County Fusion:
U.S. OPEN CUP
Sherbeck Field, Fullerton College
L.A. Blues 1, Ventura County Fusion 3, OT
LA -- own goal Tim Pontius 13
VC -- Francisco Lopez pen. 34
VC -- Francisco Lopez (Rodrigo Lopez) 107
VC -- Travis Bowen 116
L.A. Blues: Jose Miranda; Erlys Garcia, Ebrima Jatta, Cory Miller, Shay Spitz; Allan Russell; George Davis IV, Chad Bond (Irving Garcia, 46), Carlos Borja, Luis Gonzalez (Maykel Galindo, 66); Matt Fondy (Ricky Waddell, 22). Unused subs: Amir Abedzadeh, Bryan Burke, Ladislas Bushiri.
Ventura County Fusion: Earl Edwards; Matt Wiet, Tim Pontius, Mickey Daly, Willie Rupert; Michael Roman (Gabe Gonzales, 77), Daniel Steres, Rafael Lopez, Kennedy Chongo; Victor Chavez (Travis Bowen, 58), Francisco Lopez. Unused subs: Judd Berb, Jamiel Mardware, Peter McGlynn, Jason Sangha, Chris Tsonis.
Yellow cards: Miller 63, 86, Daly 69, I. Garcia 74. Red cards: Miller 86, Fusion coach Ole Mikkelsen 97.
Referee: Ramon Hernandez. Att.: c. 130.