Monday, March 11, 2013

OC Weekly Preseason Recap

Photos by Robert Van Deering (Valencia Voice)
By Mike Gramajo

Orlando City SC will look to finish its month of preseason when they partake in a host of collegiate friendlies and competing in the second leg of the I-4 Derby after winning the first leg 3-2 last Saturday.

Lets look at how preseason has been going for the Lions......

New year, same goals
The Lions kicked-off the new year when they played Serie A side AS Roma on January 2nd at Rollins College and despite falling to the Italian giants 5-0, newcomers like Midfielder Jonathan Mendoza sparked interest amongst Orlando's fan base on what the young Colombian can do in the midfield.

"We're confident in bringing in the necessary pieces to be competitive," Head Coach Adrian Heath told reporters after the game.

So far this preseason Orlando has added a host of young and veteran players.

Below are the new players added to the team since the new year started:  
Iron Lion Firm during the I-4 Derby
Bryan Burke
Brian Fekete
Jonathan Mendoza
Freddie Braun 
Jean Alexandre
Long Tan

With the the USL PRO season one month away, There's no question that Orlando City has depth to enter the season and with the newly MLS-USL PRO partnership that was announced on January 23rd, Orlando's Major League Soccer affiliate Sporting Kansas City is bound to loan players to the Lions.

Disney Pro Soccer Classic
Orlando City kicked-off the Disney PSC with a 1-1 draw against MLS' Philadelphia Union, however, City fell 3-0 to Toronto FC despite maintaining possession throughout the game.

"The goals, efforts, we created a lot of chances. I thought we played the best football all evening," Heath said after its collapse against the Canadian side. "The goals we conceded were awful, individual mistakes and we got punished."

Goals were something Orlando City saw a lot.

During their four-games at the Disney PSC, the Lions conceded six goals while scoring 5 goals. Not bad, right? But given that Coach Adrian Heath is known for praising his team for playing possession and defensive soccer, the room for error always remains small.

Collegiate Friendlies
City opened-up its series against Florida college's when they face-offed against the Florida International University Panthers, winning against the Miami-based college 3-0, goals came from Jamie Watson, Justin Clark and U23s and trialist Nico Russo.

"It’s about getting combination football and get a shape of the team. It’s mainly to get everybody fit and well away in Arizona," Heath said after the game. 

Orlando will play four-more college friendlies, playing Stetson University, Florida Gulf Coast, Rollins College and University of Tampa. 

All college friendlies will be played the Seminole Soccer Complex except the matchup against Rollins College, which will be played the Barker Family Stadium on March, 21.

The Long Awaited I-4 Derby versus Tampa Bay Rowdies begins
The Lions opened the I-4 Derby in thrilling action, scoring three goals in the second half to overcome a 0-1 first half deficit to take the lead when they march into Al Lang Field for the second leg of the derby.

Orlando City goals from Jamie Watson, James O'Connor and Jean Alexandre

"We been in control of the game all evening, we were the dominant team," Heath said after the first leg at the Citrus Bowl.

Throughout the preseason, Heath has made it clear that he has the best squad outside the MLS in terms of style and depth.

Orlando City officially open up the USL PRO season on  a two-game road West Coast road trip on April 7 when they visit Phoenix FC before taking on the LA Blues on April 10.

The home opener kicks-off on April 14 versus the Rochester Rhinos, scheduled time is at 6 p.m.

What are your opinions on how the preseason is going so far, and what are some questions you have for the remaining year?

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