Saturday, May 31, 2014

Lions drain Battery, Hertzog bags first goal

By Mike Gramajo

LAKE BUENA VISTA — There’s a first time for everything and for Corey Hertzog, that’s his first league goal for the Purple Kits to continue their winning ways. 

Orlando City SC defeated Charleston Battery 2-0 on Saturday night at the ESPN Wide World of Sports, in front of 4,987 fans to remain unbeaten in USL PRO play. 

Hertzog converted his first goal in league play in the 42nd minute after Odisnel Cooper’s clearance found Kevin Molino who headed the ball back into the box, finding Hertzog to head the ball from close range for 1-0 lead. 

Molino capped the match in the 75th minute when Ausin da Luz executed on a Battery mistake, finding the Trinidad & Tobago international to tuck the ball behind the keeper. 

OCSC remain in first place in the league standings and finish with a 7-1-1 record in the month of May, with their only loss occurring against AS Roma during an international friendly. 

Heath confirmed with reporters that Kevin Molino (Trinidad & Tobago), Darwin Ceren (El Salvador) and Tommy Redding (United States U18) will ship out on Sunday for international duty. They will miss out on Orlando’s next league match on June 7 vs. Montreal Impact Reserves. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Report: Shea to join Orlando City in 10-day training stint

(Getty Images North America) 
By Mike Gramajo

While most Americans that are playing abroad are heading to Brazil this summer for the World Cup, midfielder Brek Shea will begin training with Orlando City SC. 

According to a report from the Orlando Sentinel, the winger, who’s under contract with Stoke City of the Barclays Premier League, will join the Lions on a 10-day training stint. 

The report states that Paul McDonough, OCSC general manager and former agent of Shea, confirmed that the stint is for training purposes only, however, there is also interest in the player for the upcoming inaugural MLS season for Orlando in 2015. 

Shea is coming off a somewhat productive season in the Championship, where he played for Barnsley FC on loan from Stoke City. The former FC Dallas man mad eight appearances for the Tykes after only making five appearances for the Potters since joining last year. 

With the latest report of Shea training with Orlando is rather new, the report is not the first of many players that have been rumored in joining Orlando in 2015. Transfer rumors of AC Milan and Brazilian stars Ricardo Kaka and Robinho have hit the wire as of recent, along with former Liverpool and Englishman Joe Cole has hit Orlando City transfer rumors. 

The Report also comes out on the same day after Spanish newspaper Marca reported that Atletico Madrid and Spanish National Team forward David Villa is set to join New York City FC in 2015, who are also expected to join MLS the same year with Orlando. 

What do you think of the report? Do you think Orlando City are looking to be contenders in the first season in MLS in 2015?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Orlando City Soccer advances in Open Cup

(Photo: OCSC)
By Mike Gramajo

Wednesday night was a historic night for the Orlando City Soccer organization. 

Both Orlando City SC (USL PRO) and Orlando City U23s (PDL) advanced to the fourth round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, defeating the Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL) and Charleston Battery (USL PRO) respectively. 

OCSC topped Tampa 4-1 at the Seminole Soccer Complex in Sanford, behind a brace from Kevin Molino and goals from Adama Mbengue and Austin da Luz. It was the fifth meeting between the Lions and Rowdies, which also resulted into a fifth consecutive victory for the Orlando side. 

Meanwhile, the Orlando City U23s stunned USL PRO side Charleston Battery after the match was decided in a penalty shootout after their match ended in regular time 2-2. While the penalty shootout went 14 rounds, it was the resiliency the Young Lions pulled at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, South Carolina. 

Orlando City will face Major League Soccer side Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on June 17, with kick off set for 9:00 p.m. ET. Both sides met last year at the Citrus Bowl during Open Cup play, which saw the Lions crank a 3-1 victory. 

While the PRO side travels to Colorado, the Young Lions visit MLS side Portland Timbers also on June 17 at 10:30 p.m. ET. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

OCSC announce World Cup watch parties

By Mike Gramajo

With the FIFA World Cup being played in Brazil in a matter of weeks, soccer fans in Central Florida will have the luxury of having a World Cup ambiance thanks to Orlando City SC. 

OCSC announced on Thursday that they will host a series of World Cup watch parties at Wall Street Plaza in Downtown Orlando, with much of the focus on the United States Men’s National Team. 

Matches will be seen in the selected bars: Wall St. Cantina, Hen House, Hooch, Monkey Bar, Shine and Waitiki. 

The OSJ is currently scooping other locations, not affiliated with OCSC, around Central Florida that will be broadcasting the biggest soccer tournament, so please stay tuned. 

Below is Orlando City’s schedule of matches for the watch parties: 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Totti roams Roma into win over Orlando City

By Mike Gramajo

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Orlando City SC and AS Roma looked equally matched, but the legend of Fransesco Totti proved a different case otherwise. 

Roma defeated Orlando City 1-0, on Friday night in a international friendly played in front of 5,029 fans at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. 

“It was a monumental effort from our players,” said OCSC head coach Adrian Heath. “We expected to make a better showing. We showed everyone we can play football.” 

Totti gave the Serie A side the lead in the 20th minute after Orlando City defender Brad Rusin clearance of the ball found the legendary striker, who smashed home a volley from long-range past the goalkeeper. 

Despite conceding early, the Lions continued with their wave of attacks, but most of their efforts resulted into offside angles. Trialist forward Kane Hemmings could of equalized the match in the 32nd minute after Luke Boden found the striker, who rifled in a low shot past the keeper, but the sideline referee denied the goal after he signaled offside. 

Roma looked to increase the lead in the 54th minute after Totti dribbled past the Orlando City defense, chipping the ball past the trialist Orlando goalkeeper, leaving Rusin to make the goal-line clearance to keep the 1-0 in favor of Roma. 

OCSC last chance of scoring came in the 77th minute when Kevin Molino found Corey Hertzog unmarked in the center box, leaving Hertzog to drill the ball through the net, only for it to be whistled offside. 

Orlando City look to regroup ahead of Wednesday’s crucial third round U.S. Open Cup match against I-4 rivals Tampa Bay Rowdies at the Seminole Soccer Complex. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Highlights: Orlando City SC (3-1) C. Eagles

Hat-trick Molino leads Orlando City to victory, remain undefeated in USL PRO

By Mike Gramajo

Kevin Molino’s hat-trick was all Orlando City SC needed, as they defeated the Charlotte Eagles 3-1, on Wednesday night in front of 4,219 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. 

“There was a lot of pleasing stuff,” OCSC head coach Adrian Heath told reporters. “I thought we were very good in periods. We haven’t put a full 90 minutes yet.” 

The Trinidad and Tobago international opened the scoring when Bryan Burkes shot was deflected by Eagles goalkeeper Brock Duckworth, leaving Molino to execute on the rebound in the 10th minute. Molino would score his second goal in the 29th minute. 

“I as a footballer set goals, and my goals was before I go international I want to set 20 points,” said hat-trick hero Molino. “We just want to keep going. We work together as a team. It’s been a hectic month, but we have to keep going.” 

Orlando City’s MLS signee would cap the match and solidify his hat trick in the 76th minute after midfielder Mikey Lopez’s cross found Molino to strike the ball behind the keeper. The Eagles would go on to score a consolation goal three minutes later after Giuseppe Gentile scored after a defensive eror resulted into the Eagles player to put one back behind Miguel Gallardo. 

With the victory, the Lions extend their unbeaten start in USL PRO to 11-games while also sitting in first place, provisionally nine points clear from second place LA Galaxy II. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

WC: Italy stuns host Germany in extra-time

Report: Scottish Championship player of the year to train with Orlando City this week

By Mike Gramajo

Orlando City’s strike force may just get a little bit stronger. 

According to a report from the BBC, Cowdenbeath’s Kane Hemmings will be heading to Central Florida for a trial with Orlando City SC after his current contract with the Scottish Championship side ends this summer. 

OCSC refused to comment on the report. 

Hemmings, 23, scored 24 goals this past season for The Blue Brazil, who currently play in the second division in Scotland. The English native held previous stints with Rangers from 2011-2013 before helping Cowdenbeath avoid relegation to the Scottish League One. 

The Lions have an upcoming international friendly this Friday against Italian giants AS Roma and if reports are true, Hemmings could be called upon Heath to showcase his work. 

The striker has also been targeted by English Championship side Blackburn Rovers. 

This is a developing story, stay tuned for updates.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Tommy Redding makes professional debut

(OSJ file photo)
By Mike Gramajo

SANFORD, Fla. — Orlando City’s first-ever Major League Soccer homegrown signee Tommy Redding has officially made his professional debut after injuries has kept the 17-year old defender sidelined for much of the early part of the season. 

“It was a great feeling, finally to able to represent my city,” Redding told reporters after Wednesday’s Open Cup win. “There was a little bit of nerves, but I got past those in the first couple minutes and from there on, the game was easy.” 

Redding, a native of Oviedo, Florida, made his debut during U.S. Open Cup play on Wednesday, coming in as a second-half substitute for defender Bradford Rusin. Despite only playing 45 minutes, his performance brought praise from OCSC head coach Adrian Heath. 

“Tommy (Redding) came through and showed a lot of people what he can do,” said Heath. “He looked like he’s been with us for a long time, the kid has a bright future.” 

The United States U-18 international had missed Orlando’s first nine USL PRO league matches after picking up a hamstring injury during preseason. 

However, after intensive days of getting back into the mix of things, Heath nodded his return earlier in the week when he told the Valencia Voice that Redding was fully fit for minutes. 

Heath did confirm on Wednesday night that Redding might see more action when Orlando travel to face Arizona United SC on Saturday during USL PRO league play. 

Orlando City top Ocala Stampede, set up Open Cup third round meeting with Rowdies

(Courtesy of Orlando City) 
By Mike Gramajo

SANFORD, Fla. — Strike duo Dennis Chin and Corey Hertzog each bagged a brace, as Orlando City claimed a 4-1 victory over the Ocala Stampede during second round play of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday night at the Seminole Soccer Complex. 

“It was a pleasing night,” Orlando head coach Adrian Heath said. “I take my hat off to Ocala. I got lots of respect to their coach. It’s 4-1, we missed lots of chances, and yet they’re still in the game.” 

Hertzog gave the Lions the early lead in the 14th minute after midfielder Aodhan Quinn found the striker open in the box, leaving the former New York Red Bull to bury a strike from close range. 

With the 1-0 lead in place, Chin doubled the lead in the 28th minute after Hertzog found the Oviedo, Florida native in a through pass to tuck the ball toward the net. Hertzog would go on to give OCSC the 3-0 lead before halftime, scoring on a penalty kick after an Ocala handball was whistled. 

The Stampede were able to get on the scoreboard in the 61st minute after Ben Knights converted on an Orlando City back line error, beating goalkeeper Carl Woszczynski. However, Orlando’s Dennis Chin capped the match in the 83rd after he executed on a deflection from an Ocala defender to make it 4-1. 

With the victory, Orlando City will meet the Tampa Bay Rowdies on May 28 in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup, which will be held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Orlando City reveals new MLS logo

By Mike Gramajo

ORLANDO, Fla. — Orlando City SC has revealed their new Major League Soccer logo. 

After being announced as the newest MLS expansion franchise in November 2013, OCSC has since done a lot to make its progression to the major leagues run smoother. 

In my latest SBI stories, I discuss the details surrounding the new logo, and other updates regarding Orlando City in MLS. Give them a read, and make sure to follow me on Twitter for the latest updates. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Orlando City remain unbeaten, defeat Energy

By Mike Gramajo 

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Kevin Molino set the goals, Dennis Chin finished them. 

Chin’s two-goals lifted Orlando City SC to a 3-1 victory over the Oklahoma City Energy on Sunday night, while Molino notched two assists in front of 4,532 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. 

“I’m pleased,” Orlando head coach Adrian Heath told reporters. “Still don’t think we put a full 90 minutes together. I thought we did more than enough to win the game.” 

After a slow start to the game, the Lions broke the deadlock in the 32nd minute when Molino’s cross found Chin, who headed the ball from close-range past Energy goalkeeper Jon Kempin. Orlando doubled the lead moments later after Molino again converted a cross, which found midfielder Yordany Alvarez who tucked home the ball in the 34th minute. 

Chin, who’s from Oviedo, Florida, secured his brace two-minutes into the second half when the sleek striker was able to get past the Energy’s defense, slotting the ball behind Kempin for the 3-1 scoreline. 

The Energy were able to get one back before halftime when Steven Perry’s shot deflected off goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo, which found Philip Lund to slot the rebound toward the net. However, the first half favored the Lions as they outshot the visiting team 10-7. 

Meeting for the second consecutive time, OCSC faced off against the Energy last week at Pribil Stadium, which saw Orlando walk away with a 2-1 win. 

OCSC open up their USL PRO season with a seven-game unbeaten streak. Out of those seven matches, five are currently a winning streak as they embark on a two-game road trip to Pittsburgh, Rochester and Arizona.  

Orlando returns home, but to the Seminole Soccer Complex, during US Open Cup play on May 14 when they host the Ocala Stampede. However, their next league home match will be on May 21 when the Charlotte Eagles come to visit. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Orlando City takes top spot in latest SBI USL PRO rankings ahead of OKC Energy clash

(Photo: Joe Petro / OCSC)
By Mike Gramajo

After four consecutive league wins, two of which include pivotal road games, Orlando City SC are not only sitting in first place in the USL PRO standings but also haven taken the top spot in the latest SBI USL PRO Power Rankings for Week six. 

Kevin Molino’s outstanding performance during the Lions’ previous road-stretch, which saw the midfielder produce three goals in two games, has paved the way for Adrian Heath’s men who are also riding a four-game winning streak. 

Despite the windy conditions Orlando encountered at Oklahoma City, the Lions will place the Energy for second-consecutive week on Sunday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. 

Check out the SBI rankings, and see who else in the league is battling for that top spot.