By Mike Gramajo
KISSIMMEE, Fla. — All it took was a dream debut to prevent a nightmare night.
Brian Span’s late-game winner proved to be the difference, as Orlando City SC (2-2-0) defeated Charleston Battery 1-0 on Saturday night at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, in front of 4,826 fans.
“It would of been a travesty if we hadn’t won the game with the chances we created,” Orlando City head coach Adrian Heath told reporters on the result. “Overall, I’m pleased with the win because I thought we deserved it. I think the stuff we were disappointed last week was the general work ethic, but I thought we were very good at that tonight.”
Span, who came in as a second-half substitute for midfielder Aodhan Quinn in the 56th minute, found the back of the net after midfielder Adama Mbengue sent in a low cross, which found Span unmarked in the box as he slotted the ball past Charleston Battery goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper in the 74th minute.
“It felt great, I was really preparing myself for any time my moment was,” Span said on his game-winning goal. “Coach was telling us to get into the box, and he wanted us to get many numbers in the box, and I was in the right place, right time.”
Heath made three substitution throughout the game, all of which came early in the second half. Dennis Chin and Adama Mbengue entered the match in the 58th minute for Austin da Luz and Corey Hertzog.
OCSC goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo earned his first clean sheet of the season despite making only one save, with much of the credit paid to Orlando’s back line that stopped the Battery from scoring.
A strong second-half surge from Orlando proved to pay a huge factor in the victory, outshooting the Battery 8-1 as they finished with a total of 14 shoots for the total tally mark.
In the first half, possession was evenly shared, but it was the Battery that had the upper hand after they came a lot closer to opening the scoreboard. Charleston outshot Orlando 7-5, much of the action came from the flanks when Battery midfielder Zach Prince tried taking advantage of 17-year old left back Tyler Turner.
Corey Hertzog nearly came to scoring twice for the Lions before the halftime whistle after Turner found him in a low cross, only for Hertzog to send the ball wide of the post.
The second chance arrived moments later when the midfielder Austin da Luz found Hertzog in a through ball, leaving Hertzog in a one-on-one scenario with Battery goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper which resulted into the ball being sent high over the cross bar.
City’s second-consecutive victory will follow with a road trip on Tuesday, April 22, when they take on the FC Dallas Reserves. In the meantime, they sit provisionally atop the USL Pro standings with eight points.