In its final USL PRO Regular Season match Orlando City SC (19-4-5, 62 points) defeated the Richmond Kickers (13-2-12, 51 points) 1-0 at ESPN Wide World of Sports (WWoS) on Saturday night. The Lions set a USL PRO regular season record for wins with 19 this season and remained undefeated at home all season.
After the match, USL PRO officials awarded Orlando City its third Regular Season Trophy in four seasons, capping off another successful regular season campaign for the Lions. Midfielder Kevin Molino scored the lone goal of the game, notching his 20th league goal in 2014, also USL PRO record.
City will learn which team it will face in the first round playoff match – scheduled to take place at ESPN WWoS on September 13 – after the final USL PRO regular season game on Sunday.
Head Coach Adrian Heath commented on the Lions’ 1-0 win and the upcoming playoffs:
“It’s been a great year at home. I’ve been in this game long enough now to know that winning as much as we have isn’t easy to do. It takes a lot of determination, desire and drive, and we’ve done that now for the last three or four years so I’m really pleased. I’m also very proud of the players tonight. It’s been a good night for us against a very experienced team.”
Molino tallied the lone goal in the 22nd minute with a spectacular header for the Lions. The Trinidadian ran onto a well-placed ball into to the box from Luke Boden, performing a no-look flick past Richmond Goalkeeper Ryan Taylor to give City a 1-0 advantage.
“He’s demonstrated that he’s more than capable of moving to the next level,” said Heath of Molino’s performance. “I honestly think that he’s one of the most talented footballers in America, whichever division you’re talking about. This has been a huge break-out season for him and I’m really excited for him.”
Orlando maintained the bulk of possession in the first half, applying constant pressure throughout. In the 30th minute, Molino played a piercing ball in behind the Kickers’ defense to Brian Span, but his effort saved for a corner by Richmond Goalkeeper Ryan Taylor.
During the half time break, the club paid a moving tribute to star player Yordany Alvarez who was forced to retire last month after some health problems. The clubs fans gave the former Cuban International a rousing reception as club President Phil Rawlins gave Alvarez a club scarf and then walked with him to greet the fans.
Orlando’s momentum carried into the second half, creating several chances to add another goal to the score-sheet.
In the 54th minute, good build-up play from the Lions allowed Boden to get in behind his marker deep inside the penalty area, setting up a dangerous ball across the six-yard box. Several City players were lurking nearby but the Richmond defense was able to clear it away.
Two minutes later, Molino delivered a wonderful through-ball that led to a one-on-one opportunity for Giuseppe Gentile. The former Chicago Fire striker had a clear chance on goal, but Richmond Goalkeeper Ryan Taylor came charging off his line to prevent a second goal.
With the number of chances increasing, Orlando’s confidence to go forward grew, displaying crafty one-touch passing in the final third. The possession-oriented style of play yielded additional scoring opportunities late in the match, including Corey Hertzog’s effort that went just wide of the target.
Molino’s game-winner was all that was needed for the Lions to notch a record 19th win to close out their USL PRO regular season campaign.
Orlando City begins its post-season run on Saturday, September 13 at ESPN WWoS against the eighth seeded team, which will be determined on Sunday.
Orlando City SC – GK Carl Woszczynski, D Bryan Burke (Justin Clark 76’), Tommy Redding, Rob Valentino (Brad Rusin 60’), Luke Boden, M Adama Mbengue, Harrison Heath (Anthony Pulis 67’), Kevin Molino (Austin da Luz 89’), Estrela, Brian Span, F Giuseppe Gentile (Corey Hertzog 60’)
Richmond Kickers – GK Ryan Taylor, D Yomby William, Matheau Hall, Conor Shanosky, Stephen Basso, M Luke Vercollone, Hugh Roberts, George Davis IV (Alex Lee 76’), Juan Arbelaez (Nate Robinson 57’), F Jason Yeisley, Shay Spitz
More photos at www.FloridaLeisurePhotography.com