The opportunity to stay mathematically in the race for an Eastern Conference playoff spot will exist for a while. There are 12 games left in the season following the Fire's 2-2 draw against another team struggling to stay alive in the weaker of MLS' two conferences. The Fire are within eight points of the "red line" with one game in hand on sixth-place DC United but yet another home game is by the boards with only one point to show for it.
Realistically speaking, playoff hopes are dashed but this game did at least provide some flashes of entertainment with two goals scored, and a small improvement in possession particularly in the second half. There is enough time left in the season that the Fire just can't throw up the white flag and "play the kids" since there are evaluations to be made for next season and there should be some attempt to see how the attacking line of John Goossens, Michael de Leeuw, David Accam, and eventually David Arshakyan look before completely closing the book on 2016.
The Fire were weak again in possession in the first half and allowed a goal within minutes of taking the lead early once again. Orlando clearly had the better of the play, taking a 2-1 advantage into half-time. Chicago responded with an equalizer in the 78th and pressed for more but couldn't break through. Following the game, the team seemed relieved to salvage something at home. Veljko Paunovic cited the improvement as a positive in his post-game comments but the effort still wasn't good enough to beat an ordinary Orlando City side that has also struggled on the road this year.
The small steps have been just that this season.
GK Sean Johnson (5.5) - Five saves and a bit better command of the box. The Fire still seem to be working through some communication issues in back though.
D Eric Gehrig (4.5) - Paunovic needed to make a formation change as Kaka threatened to make child's play of Fire's right side early on. Kaka was never a track runner but he whizzed by Gehrig three times in one run in the 54th minute. Did provide a well placed ball over the top in the 43rd that led to a chance for Goossens. A botch almost led to a goal or PK in the 62nd.
D Jonathan Campbell (4.5) - Muscled off the ball and beaten by Larin for Orlando's first goal. Better after the shift to a four-man back line.
D Johan Kappelhof (5) - Moved to the right side of the back line midway through the first half and settled it somewhat. Kaka was less effective from there on.
D Brandon Vincent (6) - Found Cocis for the equalizer in the 78th. More involved and added an improved 76% pass completion rate.
M Matt Polster (5) - The Fire still lost the overall possession battle (56-44) but midfield wasn't as lopsided as it has been in games past. The second half showed some improvement in that category. Polster started out wide and moved into a more customary central role with the formation change. Also improved passing at 78%.
M Khaly Thiam (4.5) - Subbed out at the half. The Fire's attack improved with one less uninvolved midfielder and one more forward.
M Razvan Cocis (6) - Scored the tying goal on a header in the 78th. Also close on another feed from Vincent in the 30th.
F/M John Goossens (5) - Didn't complete passess at a high rate (56%) but Fire front runners don't have much help in receiving the ball in good positions from midfield. Involved but not particularly dangerous.
F Michael de Leeuw (5.5) - Not many touches in the final third but helped push the attack in the second half. Completed 78% of passes and placed his one of his two shot attempts on target in the 39th.
F/M David Accam (5) - Dangerous when running at players but Orlando City was able to gain control of it not allow him to to face just one defender. Has to resist the tendency to try going 1v3 at all times. Did complete a pass to a teammate going forward in the 92nd though.
F Luis Solignac (5) - Replaced Thiam after the half. Involved somewhat but missed a clear look on net after drawing Bendik out in the 78th.
M Arturo Alvarez (5) - Replaced Goossens in the 71st. Tried to get a penalty call in the 90th but none was given.