Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Rawlins: We're very content in USL Pro

City of Orlando getting ready for Friday's semi-final game.
(Photo Credit: Mike Gramajo)
By Mike Gramajo
Orlando City President Phil Rawlins made it clear that the club is content in the USL Pro. 

"Our natural stepping stone would be from USL to MLS," Rawlins said during a pep rally Friday afternoon in front of City Hall. "I'm looking forward to the playoffs this Friday and I'm sure with the crowd turnout, we can easily win." 
The Lions dominated the league, finishing with 57 points and leading second place Rochester Rhinos with 16 points. 

Statistically, Orlando City improved a lot  this season than last season. 

this year, the Lions only conceded 18 goals, however, scored 50 goals, 14 more than the Charleston Battery. 

16 points above second place Rochester Rhinos can only state that Orlando City are in a league of their own, right? 

With the potential joining of the NASL out of the question, the Lions look forward to repeating history again, when Wilmington visit for a semi-final match-up. 

A victory Friday night will provide Orlando City home-field advantage in the USL Pro final on Sept. 8. 

For more Orlando City playoff coverage, make sure to follow me on Twitter- 

Lions look forward to USL Pro glory

By Mike Gramajo

Photo Credit: Mike Gramajo
ORLANDO, Fla. -- It's beginning to look a lot like last year.

The Orlando City Lions are back in post-season play this Friday night, when they host the Wilmington Hammerheads at the Citrus Bowl.

"We've been doing a lot of work on the final third," said forward Dennis Chin, who led the league in scoring with 11 goals to his name. "We have to be confident and just balance that with the playoffs, not get too over confident."

Even though the Lions finished the season as regular season champions, two more games can solidify league glory as Orlando City looks to achieve a second consecutive USL Pro title.

"The only people that can beat us is ourselves," said Matt Luzunaris. "Wilmington isn't good enough to make it this far."

"The [Championship] is an arms reach away, but I'm not looking at the finals, I'm looking at Friday night. I'm looking forward to proving once again that I can come back from a lot of things."

Luzunaris, who's been in grief after losing his fiance to cancer earlier this month, came second in scoring for the team.

The last time the Lions played the Hammerheads was in a frustrating 1-1 draw at the Citrus Bowl on July 25.

"If we score first then thats good, but we have to win," Dennis Chin said before the Semi-final game on Friday night.

For more Orlando City playoff coverage, make sure to follow me on Twitter-

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Weekly- 19- Charleston preview, Roster changes, NY Cosmos revival

SANFORD -- With a lot happening this week, the Orlando City Lions returned back to the practice pitch to begin preparations for Thursday's road game at Charleston.

Saturdays 4-0 home win provided City a comfortable 10 point lead atop the USL Pro standings. The win was also Orlando's second consecutive 4-0 win, and it extended their unbeaten run to eight games.

"We approach each game the same, and we can't take our foot off the petal," said City coach Adrian Heath on the remaining six games left of the season. "If we win the next two games against Charleston and Wilmington, we'll put it to bed for us."

Griffin out and changes in the midfield
Last week Orlando made more changes to its roster, when Max Griffin, 2011 leading goal scorer for the Lions, was loaned to the L.A. Blues in exchanged for George Davis.

With Luzunaris and Chinny's recent good goal scoring form, Coach Heath believes Griffin's place in the starting IX was just too hard to break in.

"One reason why we let Max go was because we got six games left, and I just can't see him getting in."

Heath praised new comers, George Davis and Rodrigo Lopez, on their role on the wings. "They showed everybody during the weekend how good players they are."

With Anthony Pulis suffering from a hamstring injury and Ian Fuller with a swollen ankle, Heath is looking at extra help in the midfield.

"We're trying to bring a midfield player from the MLS, a young boy, who will just be another body for us."

Heath praises defense
Since the start of the USL Pro season, Orlando has only conceded 13 goals, which leaves Adrian Heath satisfied.

"Kieron Bernard has been magnificent, Valentino is back, Jerome Mechack, Luke Boden and Miguel, that little five has been exceptional for us and we're going to need them."

Lions weigh in on New York Cosmos second coming 
Last week, American soccer fans were able to see the revival of the New York Cosmos.

Many Orlando City soccer fans were left skeptical on how that affects City's bid for MLS.

"It doesn't make any difference to us," said Heath. "I think the Cosmos coming back is good for the game, it is a name everybody knows."

The Cosmos, who played in the first edition of the NASL, made it clear last week when it announced it's joining the newly formed NASL, with plans to begin play in the start of 2013.

Heath remains optimistic that there isn't a road block to an MLS bid, "I don't think they're going to stop at 19, 20 not even 21 either."

"We got a meeting with MLS in a couple months."

For more coverage on Orlando City, follow me on twitter for the latest updates:

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Weekly- 14

Lions Set Quest on Four Game Road Stretch

ORLANDO — Get in, get out and get the three points.

With rainy weather being such a drag this week in Orlando, the City Lions practiced yesterday at XL Soccer World Orlando, before going on their four game road trip.

"It doesn't matter how the pitch is in the end of day," said City forward Matt Luzunaris. "We all played in grass. We all played in turf. We all played in rain and dry weather, but it's still the same pitch."

The Lions go into Dayton, Ohio on Friday June 29, knowing last time they were on the road, they suffered a 3-1 loss to the Wilmington HammerHeads, which also added their first loss of the season.

Since suffering that first loss, Orlando won three consecutive games at the Citrus Bowl, in which they scored seven goals and only conceding one.

Despite winning last Fridays 2011 USL Pro Championship rematch against the Harrisburg City Islanders, Coach Heath was not pleased with the performance.

"I'm just expecting more out of the players," said Heath to reporters after last Fridays win. "We got a tough four games. Ohio on Friday, Pittsburgh the next day, and then back-to-back games in Los Angeles. It's a tough schedule, but we need to manage to get 12 points out of this stretch."

Dennis Chin, who scored a brace on last Friday's 3-0 win over Harrisburg, believes keeping focus is what matters the most during this upcoming four game road stretch.

"We need to come out strong, especially when we have back-to-back games," said Chin on Friday and Saturday's game against the Dutch Lions and Riverhounds. "We have business to handle this weekend."

The Lions play the Dayton Dutch Lions on Friday, June 29, only to take another trip to Pittsburgh, when they play the Riverhounds the following day. The Los Angeles Blue host the Lions July 6 and 8.

For more coverage on Orlando City, follow me on twitter for the latest updates.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Weekly-12

Orlando City Getting Back on Track

SANFORD -- The Lions look to get back on track after last Saturdays rebound win against Charleston, which put them five points clear atop the USL Pro table.

"We wanted to make sure we gave a good performance," said coach Heath. "We got a difficult stretch after these next two home games."

The Lions start a tough four-game road stretch when they visit the Dayton Dutch Lions on June 29, only to visit Pittsburgh the next day, June 30, when the Riverhounds host Orlando, after having a nail biting game earlier this season at the Florida Citrus Bowl.

They conclude their four game road stretch in Los Angeles, when the LA Blues host the Lions July 6 & 8.

Orlando City  looks to keep up strength during that stretch, especially after inking a deal with nutrition company, Lifemax.

With San Jose Earthquakes Loanee Alexandre to make his last appearance this Sunday at the Florida Citrus Bowl, when Antigua comes to town, Coach Heath is hoping to keep the Haiti International for a bit longer than expected.

"We're hoping that we can keep him longer, but we will be speaking to San Jose about that."

More players are expecting to arrive on loan, however, Adrian has his eyes set when the transfer window opens June 28, for MLS Clubs.

"We're hoping to get one or two people in once the window opens."

Jamie Watson, who scored the game winner on last Saturdays game, wasn't seen practicing Tuesday, due to an infection on his leg. Adrian Heath, though, is not ruling him out for Sundays home game against Antigua.

For more coverage on Orlando City Soccer, please follow me on Twitter:

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Jean Alexandre- Loan In

ORLANDO, Fla.| A familiar face to the ownership is retuning, but to a whole new city and club.

Jean Alexandre, from the San Jose Earthquakes, is heading to Orlando City SC on a short term, two-game loan deal.

The deal, which is believed to be one of three MLS potential loan signings this week, is expected to bring in depth in City's attack in the midfield.

Alexandre played previously under Lion's owner Phil Rawlins back when the franchise was located in Austin, Texas.

For more coverage on Orlando City, follow me on twitter:

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Weekly- 11

Coach Adrian Heath on Wilmington Loss-
Although Orlando City remain atop the USL Pro table, Head Coach Adrian Heath wasn't too pleased with last Saturdays first loss of the season at Wilmington. "Our performance on Saturday at Wilmington was poor," said Adrian on his thoughts about Saturdays road loss. "The 5 games in 11 days really took a toll on us."

Orlando City, who has been playing possessive football as of recent, look to continue its style of play despite coming off a tough stretch of matches. "We're going to continue playing the way we do, it's just unfortunate that we couldn't capitalize on our style of play against Wilmington." 

City return back to the Florida Citrus Bowl on Saturday, when they host the Charleston Battery. City will look to remain unbeaten at home, however, Charleston remains two points below the Lions and with a win, Charleston will go up one point atop the table over the Lions. 

Griffin & Luzunaris in Doubt for Saturdays Home Game against Charleston-
When Orlando City were knocked out of the U.S. Open Cup by Sporting Kansas City last Tuesday, questions were brought up about the lack of depth City had in its offense. Adrain Heath confirmed with the Valencia Voice that Max Griffin sustained a hamstring strain, which just might rule him out of Saturdays home match. 

Despite missing out on Saturdays road loss, Matt Luzunaris was not seen practicing on Tuesday and according to Coach Adrian Heath, Luzunaris has been ill, and he is keen for Saturdays home match. 

City's depth in its forward line has been lacking goals this season despite Dennis Chinn having clinched four goals to his name this season. Could extra help be on its way?

Orlando City Look to Bring in MLS Players on Loan by The End of This Week- 
According to Adrian, the Lions are looking into bringing in MLS players on loan by the end of this week. "We're trying to bring in two-three people this week on loan," said Adrian. "They will be players from MLS, we've spoken to 4-5 clubs, and one of them is almost certainly done, but we have to wait till after the open cup game this evening." 

For More Coverage on Orlando City Soccer, Please follow me on Twitter:

Monday, April 9, 2012

Here Us ROAR!

By Mike Gramajo
With the 2012 USL Pro season under way, I can't help to be excited on the result of Orlando City got on its season opener against the Charlotte Eagles.

For those of you reading this and are wondering who, what or is, Orlando City? Well, let me introduce you to the basics because that all you will need. And don't worry, the bandwagon is open to many more fans, seriously.

Orlando City Soccer Club is Orlando's professional soccer team, who compete in the third tier of the American Soccer Pyramid, USL Pro.

The Club is owned by Phil Rawlins, who relocated the Austin Aztex to Orlando and were later renamed Orlando City Soccer Club.

The history of soccer in Orlando dates back to 1985, where Orlando's amateur/professional soccer team were called the Orlando Lions.

The club dissolved in 1996, however, Orlando City has deeply rooted the nickname "Lions" in order to bring back professional soccer to Orlando.

Within 3-5 years, Orlando City hopes to be part of Major League Soccer, which is the top division soccer league in the United States, just how the NBA and NFL are top division leagues in their sport.

Orlando City began their inaugural season in 2011, where many expectations were met.

By the end of the 2011 USL Pro season, City did not only hold the best record in the league, but they also went all the way and won the USL Pro Championship.

Their home venue is The Florida Citrus Bowl, which is located near Downtown Orlando.

After a successful 2011 season, Orlando City retrieved 80 percent of its roster.

The club also acquired John Rooney, younger brother of Manchester United striker, Wayne Rooney.

With the acquisitions of the Florida Soccer Alliance and Central Florida Kraze, the club is able to set up a developmental program, which is named Orlando City Youth and Orlando City U-23.

The 2012 season is under way, and I can only expect more success. However, if I didn't pitch the idea of Orlando City too well, then the only thing I can tell you is to get out to an Orlando City home game and the rest can probably sum it up for you.

Note, I made this blog not only to provide well established fans info on Orlando City but if theres one thing I have learned about the sport I truly love, its that a team does not become a great team without its fans. 
So I encourage many of my readers to spread the word of Orlando City Soccer Club.  I don't intend to dismantle the integrity of this successful club. 
Nevertheless, my plan is to be part of the success of this club in order to reach it's ultimate goal; Major League Soccer.