I'm not going to wax poetic about the MLS is Back Tournament for another week. There's only so much I can write about a weird COVID tournament from two years ago, even if Orlando's win over LAFC in the knockouts was a legendary moment in club history.
Instead, we're throwing it back to the last time Orlando City hosted Los Angeles FC, back in 2019, to look at how much has changed in just a few seasons for both teams.
This was the dominant LAFC team that made history. in 2019, the Black and Gold set a league record with 72 points. Bob Bradley's men were high flying, scoring 84 regular season goals. That goal scoring was led by the impeccable Carlos Vela, who destroyed the league with an unforgettable 34 goal, ten assist season.
Against Orlando City late in the year, LAFC didn't feature a full choice XI, with Vela not even in the 18. The Black and Gold still featured prolific Uruguayan striker Diego Rossi, who scored 16 goals that year, and MLS veterans like Lee Nguyen and Jordan Harvey, but it was a weakened team for the visitors.
Even with that, the visitors took it to Orlando City, and looking at where the Lions were at that point, it makes sense.
Orlando hadn't won in almost a month and the James O'Connor era was coming to a close. Nani was going through his first late-season slump and the Lions were racing towards another bad finish in the Eastern Conference.
LAFC dominated possession in this game at 63% and outshot the hosts 13-7, but Orlando was feisty. LAFC opened the scoring in the 12' minute, but Nani answered with a goal immediately after kickoff. Orlando kept on the front foot, with Benji Michel scoring a second to take the lead in the 20' minute.
Eventually, LAFC's possession and quality won out, and got the tying goal in the 78' minute courtesy of Rossi. Orlando was able to hold out over the last ten minutes and preserve the draw, sharing the spoils of an interesting mid-season clash.