It had been almost two months since striker Pedro Ribeiro stepped on the pitch for Orlando City. Saturday night against Columbus, Ribeiro’s number was called and the 24-year-old Brazilian stepped up when his team needed him most.
Orlando City found themselves up a man and down a goal late in the second half. The Lions created countless golden opportunities, but experience seemed to be the missing link between chances and goals. That’s what Adrian Heath thought, anyway, when he subbed off 20-year-old Cyle Larin and 21-year-old Carlos Rivas, both who had played very well, in favor of Ribeiro and 28-year-old Martin Paterson.
With the game winding down and a nervous tension gripping the air, Ribeiro did what so many of his teammates threatened to do: score. In the 89th minute, Ribeiro found the ball at his feet and let it rip.
31,430 fans leapt to their feet as the confetti cannons erupted. Orlando City saved a point with a 2-2 draw.
“The two center backs dropped and we had a man-up situation. I was actually going to dribble the ball but they both dropped back so I was just going to take a chance and fortunately it went in,” said a relieved Ribeiro after the game. It was his second goal of the season.
Orlando City had been without Ribeiro since April 3rd when he pulled his hamstring against D.C. United. After weeks of rehabbing and training, Ribeiro finally got his chance.
“He’s done really well in the last few weeks. He’s worked so hard. If we can get him opportunities in and around the box, he invariably hits the target. He’s a big boy, he’s got a great left foot, and he’s a goal scorer.”
That great left foot extended Orlando City’s unbeaten streak to three games as the Lions improved to 3-5-5 for 14 points. Next Saturday, Orlando City will take on the Chicago Fire in Toyota Park.