Make that 16 in a row unbeaten at home for Orlando City SC, as the Lions dominated the Charlotte Eagles in their USL Pro league match this evening. With the win, Orlando secures a return trip to the USL playoffs to defend their title.
Orlando controlled possession throughout the first half, though it took them every second of 45 minutes to finally grab the lead. Right as the game clock struck 45’, striker Dennis Chin played Kevin Molino through on the Charlotte keeper. The two reached the ball at almost the same moment, and the resulting rebound fell right back to the feet of Chin, who coolly slammed it home.
The Lions out-shot Charlotte 7-1 in the first half, but even that doesn’t fully reflect how much of the possession Orlando had. Molino was all over the pitch in the attacking midfield role, and USA U-20 right back Tyler Turner was a constant menace down the flank.
Things got significantly worse for Charlotte in the 2nd half, as Orlando scored three more within 15 minutes of the whistle. Turner was rewarded for his hard work, rising high to head home a wonderfully delivered set piece from Darwin Ceren in the 49th. Minutes later, Charlotte defender Juan Guzman was sent off with a straight red as he brought down Brain Span to prevent a clear scoring chance. Molino netted the penalty, and then added another in the 59′ to make it 4-0.
Much was made this week of Orlando’s first loss of the season in Rochester last weekend. Asked if he did anything differently in practice this week, City manager Adrian Heath quipped, “Bit more shouting, probably.” He went on to say:
“I thought the performance tonight was a lot better than it has been in the past. We have to continue to play at our maximum because we can’t afford to play 75-80 percent and expect to win.”
Charlotte striker Wells Thompson scored a consolation goal in the 74th, but the result was never really in doubt.
Kevin Molino won the fan vote for Man of the Match after notching the brace for his 12th and 13th goals of the year. Well deserved no doubt, however in my mind the 18 year old right back Turner was the clear MOTM. Not only was his play impressive, but his goal was the first of his professional career.
Turner reminded me of DeAndre Yedlin marauding down the right side, and he was able to do so at will with Orlando controlling the possession. He’s already inked an MLS Home Grown Player contract with Orlando, and I would expect big things from him in the MLS next year. It’s a lofty goal for the 18 year old, but perhaps he’ll be able to break into the USA U-23 squad prior to the 2016 Olympics.
Orlando City now have eight games remaining in the USL regular season, as they aim to capture a third Regular Season Championship. City’s next fixture will take place on Saturday, 8/9 against the Harrisburg City Islanders at Skyline Sports Complex. Kick-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. EST.
ORL- Dennis Chin (Unassisted) 45’
ORL- Tyler Turner (Darwin Ceren) 48’
ORL- Kevin Molino (Unassisted) 51’
ORL- Kevin Molino (Luke Boden) 60’
CHA- Wells Thompson (Jonny Leathers) 75’
Orlando City SC- GK Miguel Gallardo, D Tyler Turner (Bitielo Jean-Jacques 81’), Tommy Redding, Luke Boden, Rob Valentino (Brad Rusin 73’), M Ian Christianson (Harrison Heath 73’), Adama Mbengue (Austin da Luz 65’), Darwin Ceren, Kevin Molino, Brian Span, F Dennis Chin (Giuseppe Gentile 65’)
Charlotte Eagles- GK Alec Kahn, D JJ Greer, Bilal Duckett, Jonny Leathers, Ben Newnam, M Fred Sekyere (Darren Toby 9’), Drew Yates (Matt Gold 60’), Juan Guzman, F David Estrada, Jorge Herrera, Wells Thompson (Zak Boggs 76’)
CHA- Juan Guzman (Red Card, 49’)