Sunday, June 29, 2014

Report: Orlando City & Kaka agree on deal

(Getty Images)

By Mike Gramajo

It finally looks like Orlando City SC and Ricardo Kaka have finally reached a deal. 

According to a report from the Orlando Sentinel, Kaka will arrive to Orlando on Monday afternoon, and will be presented as the club’s first designated player on Tuesday in front of fans in downtown Orlando during their World Cup watch party. 

The former AC Milan midfielder will, however, will be officially introduced as a Lion on Tuesday during a press conference. And despite Orlando City not seeing MLS action until 2015, Kaka will spend six month at Brazilian club Sao Paulo FC on-loan before reporting to Orlando for MLS preseason in January. 

Kaka is heralded with having a successful career, which includes a World Cup title in 2002, UEFA Champions League trophy in 2007 with Milan and lastly a Spanish League title with Real Madrid in 2012. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Orlando City cruise past LA Galaxy II

By Mike Gramajo

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Hertzog scores twice and Orlando City witness a Sweet 16 unbeaten streak come alive.  

Corey Hertzog bagged a brace while Kevin Molino sealed the deal, as Orlando City SC clinched a 3-0 victory over visiting LA Galaxy II on Saturday night at the ESPN Wide World of Sports in front of 5,029 fans. 

“We’ve been a working progress, and it’s getting better,” OCSC head coach Adrian Heath said. “We try to impose our style of play to our opposition. Overall, we were a good value to the scoreline and it should of been more.”

Luke Boden helped set up the opening goal in the 17th minute, finding Hertzog who slotted in a cross past Los Dos goalkeeper Cody Laurendi. The former NY Red Bull forward secured his brace before halftime after Kevin Molino found him unmarked from close range to double the lead. 

“The first goal was all Bodz (Luke Boden), so all credit to him,” said Hertzog. “Goals bring confidence and you’re a different player when you have a lot of confidence.” 

Molino, who went on to score his league-leading 11th goal, capped the match in the 60th minute after Brian Span’s shot deflected off the post, finding the Trinidad and Tobago international who buried the dead ball into the net. 

Orlando City go back on the road, visiting the Wilmington Hammerheads on Thursday. OCSC will then travel to St. Petersburg to play the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the second leg of the I-4 Derby on Sunday. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Report: Kaka to return to Milan preseason

(Getty Images)
By Mike Gramajo

Orlando City Soccer Club will have to wait a little more longer to acquire the services of Brazilian superstar Ricardo Kaka.

According to a report from, the midfielder confirmed that he plans to return to AC Milan for preseason training in early July, leaving speculation of him becoming OCSC’s first-ever designated player in doubt. 

“I am not out of Milan,” the former Real Madrid player told an audience at an event. “The only thing that is certain and official is that on July 9, I have to present myself at Milan.”

Orlando City confirmed earlier this month that they were in ‘advance discussions’ with Kaka about becoming a DP when Orlando joins Major League Soccer in 2015, while also going out on loan to Brazilian side Sao Paulo FC during the remainder of 2014. 

What do you think of this report? Do you think Kaka will eventually join Orlando City? Share your comments below. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Preview: Orlando City vs. Dayton Dutch Lions

(Courtesy of Orlando City)
By Mike Gramajo

Orlando City SC could go 11 points clear in the USL PRO standings, and set a new club record of 15 matches unbeaten when they visit the Dayton Dutch Lions on Sunday at 3 p.m. (WATCH HERE). 

Orlando and Dayton have yet to meet this season, but last played in a 3-3 draw at Miami Valley (Ohio) on July 2013 which saw OCSC squander their one-goal lead toward the end of the match. 

And while OCSC are riding a 14 match unbeaten streak, within that run the Lions flow a five-game winning streak. Kevin Molino, who leads USL PRO in scoring with nine goals, hasn’t scored in his last three league matches, however, he did score a hat-trick during a 3-1 home victory over the Charlotte Eagles back in May. 

Forward Dennis Chin, who picked up a hamstring injury last month, has since returned to action, playing minimal minutes. Corey Hertzog will more than likely get the nod to start from Adrian Heath after finding his scoring touch after notching two goals in his last three games. 

Although the Dutch Lions aren’t having their best season to date, they do have one of the leagues top scorers in Aaron Schoendeld whose eight goals has him in the fourth spot for the Golden Boot. Dayton currently sit in 13th place in the standings with 11 points, while posting one victory in their last five matches. 

Despite playing last Friday in a 0-0 draw against Brazilian side Sao Paulo FC during an international friendly, Orlando City’s last competitive match resulted into a 5-2 defeat against MLS side Colorado Rapids during U.S. Open Cup play last Tuesday. 

What are some score predictions heading into Orlando’s road game? Comment below with your answers. 

Stay tuned with the OSJ and follow us on Twitter @OSJ_Soccer 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Adrian Heath talks Kaka arrival

(Courtesy of Orlando City)
By Mike Gramajo

While much credit can be attributed to owners Flavio Augusto da Silva and Phil Rawlins for luring Brazilian star Ricardo Kaka to Orlando City SC as their first Designated Player, the credit will soon be transported to the man who will be coaching the midfielder. 

That’s Adrian Heath. 

Within the last 48 hours, reports of Kaka signing with Orlando City have coincided with World Cup fever, and Heath for the first time answered questions from reporters about the soon-to-be announced signing. 

“We’re in advanced talks to sign Kaka. We’re all optimistic and really hopeful and probably see a little bit of what it’s like next year,” said Heath. “We’re talking about one of the world’s global names, one the best players in the last 20-30 years. We hope we get it done, we hope this time next year he’s running out in a purple shirt.” 

According to other reports that have surfaced in the last couple days, the former AC Milan ace is expected to go out on loan to Brazilian outfit Sao Paulo FC for the remainder of 2014 to remain fitness. Kaka would eventually join the Lions in January 2015 before the start of MLS preseason camp. 

Sao Paulo, which is Kaka’s boyhood club, ironically played Orlando City on Friday in a scoreless international friendly. 

Orlando battle Sao Paulo in scoreless draw

(Courtesy of Orlando City)
By Mike Gramajo 

Orlando City SC held off Brazilian powerhouse Sao Paulo to a scoreless draw on Friday night in front of an announced crowd of 5,029 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. 

“To have one of the biggest clubs in Brazil to come and play, it’s a great night for the club,” OCSC head coach Adrian Heath told reporters. “I thought we had some great passages of play. I’m really proud of their efforts, obviously we rolled our luck a little bit at times. Overall, I’m delighted with the effort our boys put in.” 

The Lions seemed to take a late-game lead, but were denied countless of times while Orlando goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo produced a man of the match performance for his shutout, which involved several pivotal saves. 

OCSC are back on the road when they visit the Dayton Dutch Lions during USL PRO play on Sunday. 

Stay tuned with the OSJ and follow us on Twitter @Mike_Gramajo

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Report: Kaka and Orlando City reach agreement

(Getty Images)
By Mike Gramajo 

Orlando City SC’s long pursuit of Brazilian star Ricardo Kaka looks to finally become a reality. 

ESPN’s Taylor Twellman tweeted on Thursday that Orlando City and Major League Soccer have reached an agreement with Kaka to become the Lions’ first Designated Player. 

Though OCSC don’t begin their inaugural MLS campaign until spring of 2015, Twellman also reported that the former AC Milan midfielder will join Brazilian side Sao Paulo FC, his boyhood club, on-loan until 2015. 

The Orlando Sentinel confirmed the report, stating that Kaka triggered his release clause from Milan after the Italian side failed to qualify to European competition next season. 

Orlando City host Sao Paulo on Friday during an international friendly at 8 p.m. ET. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Orlando City gets thrashed at Colorado Rapids, crash out of U.S. Open Cup

(Photo Courtesy of Colorado Rapids)
By Mike Gramajo 

Deshorn Brown netted a hat-trick, as the Colorado Rapids routed Orlando City SC 5-2 on Tuesday night at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in the fourth round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. 

Midfielder Adama Mbengue and defender Luke Boden were the only Lions that were able to get on the scoresheet. After Mbengue’s opener gave OCSC the lead in the 22nd minute, Brown equalized the match 10 minutes later. 

The Rapids would go on to score three unanswered goals, two from Brown which solidified his hat-trick, and Nick LaBrocca got on the scoresheet before halftime. 

Boden’s goal in the 71st minute looked to inspire a comeback, but Dillon Powers’ goal in the 74th minute capped the match for the MLS side. 

Orlando City return to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on Friday, when they play host to Brazilian powerhouse Sao Paulo FC at 7:30 in an international friendly. 

OCSC go back on the road for USL PRO play the following Sunday when they visit the Dayton Dutch Lions. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Orlando City surge past Orange County Blues

By Jhamie Chin / OCSC Press Release 

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Orlando City SC extended its USL PRO unbeaten streak to 14 matches at ESPN Wide World of Sports on Wednesday night with a 4-1 win over the Orange County Blues, tying the Club’s all-time record for consecutive matches without a loss. After conceding late in the first half, City scored four unanswered goals to move nine points clear of LA Galaxy II at the top of the table.

“In the first half, we gave the ball away far too much in the midfield, and we needed to pick up our quality of play,” said Assistant Coach Ian Fuller after the match. “But the guys performed well in the second half, particularly in midfield and the final third.”

Orlando City and Orange County both had a slow start to the match in the first ten minutes, as the two sides attempted to adjust to the wet conditions, due to the torrential downpour that took place prior to kick-off.

In the 11th minute, Adama Mbengue nearly opened up the scoring with a low driven effort across the box that skipped just past the far-post. Just one minute later, Mbengue was once again involved when Kevin Molino connected with the Senegalese midfielder for a one-two inside the area, before blasting a powerful left-footed effort towards the near-post. Fortunately for the Blues, Molino, who has been in clinical form so far this season, uncharacteristically missed the frame.

The Trinidadian international missed the Lions’ previous league match, due to being called up by his home country but assimilated back into the team with ease. Molino was involved in almost every City attack in the first half, creating opportunities for not only himself but also his fellow Lions.

In the 13th minute, Molino weaved through the Orange County defense inside the box and laid the ball off for Corey Hertzog, but the striker’s effort was deflected away by the Orange County defense.

Moments later, in the 25th minute, Molino created space for himself and blasted a powerful effort from the edge of the area, forcing Goalkeeper Josh Ford to make a nervous save.

However, despite Orlando controlling the run of play, the Orange County Blues managed to provide the first goal of the match in the 39th minute, after capitalizing on the counter. After a City corner kick, Ford did well to quickly throw the ball to Sean Okoli at the half-line.

With only two City players in the defensive third, the powerful striker ventured on a 40 yard run before rolling the ball into space for Midfielder Jiovanni Santana, who placed his final effort past Gallardo to give the California based side the 1-0 lead.

Nevertheless, Orlando wouldn’t spend much time trailing as Striker Corey Hertzog leveled the score-line in stoppage time. Hertzog’s was able to force his way to the near post and get on the end of a driven cross from Ceren before re-directing it into the back of the net.

Adrian Heath’s half-time rally seemed to provide the spark needed for Lions, as Orlando scored within the first four minutes of the second half when Bryan Burke played a well-placed ball to da Luz, who was unmarked in the box. Da Luz’s header went directly between the goalkeeper’s legs, giving City a well-deserved 2-1 advantage.

In the 54th minute, da Luz was left unmarked once again but nodded his header wide of the target.

As the half progressed, City continued to put Ford under pressure and fire away at the Blues’ goal, resulting in two additional goals towards the end of the second 45. The two final goals of the match were provided by Brad Rusin, marking his first league goals in purple and white. In the 78thminute, Mbengue found Rusin on the back-post from a corner, and the imposing defender placed a comfortable header back across the goal.

Less than ten minutes later, Rusin’s found himself in a fortuitous position when Tyler Turner’s header from a corner found Rusin, who had an easy tap in from less than two yards away in the 87th minute.
City’s efficient attacking play slightly overshadowed the increased intensity on the defensive end, as Miguel Gallardo faced zero shots in the second half.

The 4-1 win moves the Lions unbeaten streak to 14, tying the Club’s all-time record for consecutive matches without a loss. City’s next two matches will take place outside of league play, as the Lions are set to travel to Colorado for its fourth round Open Cup match against MLS side Colorado Rapids on June 17, before returning back to Orlando to face Brazilian super-cub, Sao Paulo F.C. on June 20th.

Orlando’s next home match will take place against the LA Galaxy II on June 28. Kick off is set for 7:30 p.m. EST.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Rawlins: Delighted for Austin, I know it’ll be a great success

(Photo courtesy of OCSC)
By Mike Gramajo

ORLANDO, Fla. — There was an ironic twist in the air on Tuesday during Orlando City’s stadium rendering unveiling. 

That was the Aztex making a return to professional soccer. 

The Austin Aztex announced that they will become USL PRO’s 18th club in 2015, leaving the USL Premier Development League where they have currently played since 2012. 

Former Aztex owner, now Orlando City president Phil Rawlins spoke to the OSJ about the return of the Aztex into the professional scene. 

“I’m delighted for Austin, I’m delighted for David Markley (Aztex owner),” Rawlins said. “It’s a great city, and I know it’ll be a great success.” 

Orlando City, who are currently competing in their final USL PRO season, has roots that trace back to Austin, Texas, where the original Austin Aztex played in the USL First Division (2009) and the now defunct, temporary league; USSF D-2 Pro Leaugue (2010). 

Of course the Aztex side would eventually relocate to Orlando, where they are now spearheading into Major League Soccer in 2015. However, there’s no doubt that even when Orlando City departs USL PRO, there will be plenty of Orlando heritage in that league for years to come. 

Louisville City FC, who were announced as another USL PRO expansion side expected to kickoff in 2015, will become OCSC’s MLS affiliate. Moreover, you can now add the Aztex, though not much of OCSC is there, but the grassroots of where the Aztex began, which evidently became Orlando will be forever cemented. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Highlights: United States (2-1) Nigeria

Highlights: Orlando City (2-1) Montreal

Orlando City cruise past Impact Reserves

By Mike Gramajo

LAKE BUENA VISTA — No Molino, no problem. 

Orlando City continued their winning ways in USL PRO with a 2-1 victory over the Montreal Impact Reserves on Saturday night at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in front of 4,612 fans. 

Brian “Cobi” Span scored both goals for OCSC, with his first opening the deadlock in the 11th minute after Luke Boden’s cross found the FC Dallas loanee, who slotted the ball from close range. Span doubled the lead in the 59th minute after dribbling past two Impact defenders and rifling the ball from long range past the goalkeeper. 

“We were nearly very good at everything,” OCSC head coach Adrian Heath told reporters. “When you consider how much play we’ve have, and how much opportunity we’ve had and created, it would of been a travesty if we hadn’t gotten three points.” 

With Orlando City having an early lead, the game reached a standstill in the 30th minute after midfielder Yordany Alvarez collapsed in the middle of the field. The OSJ followed Alvarez into Orlando’s locker room where OCSC Operations Staff told the OSJ that Alvarez suffered a concussion and had an “Irregular heartbeat,” but was considered to be okay and taken to the hospital for examination purposes. 

“We’re a very close-neck group,” said Heath on Alvarez’s exit from the match. “Obviously, they’re very concerned about their teammate. It did have a little affect on us, but we got back to playing our possession football.”

Midfielder Aodhan Quinn substituted in for the injured Alvarez in the 32nd minute. 

OCSC looked poised to score more goals in the second half, firing a series of shots in the final 10 minutes but weren’t able to convert in the final third.  

In a match that had Orlando City missing three formidable starters, much of the play in the final third looked very active for the Lions despite being able to produce two goals.   

Orlando City remain unbeaten in USL PRO, sitting in first place with 33 points and host the Orange County Blues on Wednesday at the ESPN WWOS. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Mikey Lopez recalled back to Sporting KC, loaned to Energy FC for rest of season

(Photo: SKC)
By Mike Gramajo

After nine games and 169 minutes played, midfielder Mikey Lopez is going back to his parent team Sporting Kansas City. 

SKC announced on Wednesday that the midfielder has been called back to the club from Orlando City, and will be shipped to Oklahoma City Energy for the remainder of the 2014 USL PRO season. 

The move comes after Sporting recalled midfielder Christian Duke from the OKC Energy, leaving the open space for Lopez, who hasn’t seen that much playing time this season. 

Orlando City MLS stadium rendering to be revealed next week, according to OBJ report

By Mike Gramajo

May might have been Orlando City’s busiest month on the pitch. June, however, might be the club’s busiest month off the pitch. 

After the announcement that Orlando City will be relocating its USL PRO franchise to Louisville, Kentucky came on Wednesday, a new report from the Orlando Business Journal surfaced the same day, stating that OCSC will reveal the renderings of their $100 million Major League Soccer stadium next week. 

The report caps the speculation of previous and unofficial renderings of the stadium that made its presence around social media (example: rendering above). The OBJ report also says that the stadium is expected to seat approximately 20,000 people. 

Orlando City will be playing their inaugural 2015 MLS season in a renovated Orlando Citrus Bowl before moving into their new soccer-specific stadium in downtown Orlando prior to the 2016 MLS season. 

Orlando City Notes: Heath talks international call-ups; USL PRO, Louisville City and more

(Photo OSJ File)
By Mike Gramajo

SANFORD — It may seem like it’s early in the season, but Orlando City SC is playing their best USL PRO season in franchise history after an unbeaten start (9-0-3), which has them sitting in first place with 30 points, and six points clear from second place LA Galaxy II. 

“I think we’re getting better,” OCSC head coach Adrian Heath told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s been a process, I still don’t think we’re 100 percent.” 

The Lions will embark into inter-league play at home this Saturday when they welcome the Montreal Impact Reserves at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. 

The biggest question heading into this weekend’s matchup is whether Heath has the right tools to approach the game after three of his starters will be missing due to international call-ups, while two remain unclear due to lingering injuries. 

“When one door closes for one, another one opens for somebody else,” Heath said. “I will never stop my players from playing. Kevin Molino is playing against (Sergio) Aguero, and (Lionel) Messi, the last game before the World Cup when they leave Buenos Aires, probably in front of 80,000 people. 

“Darwin (Ceren) will be playing against the European and World champions, so we couldn’t stop them, and I never do because I know how much it meant to me when I played for my country. We didn’t have to release anybody because they weren’t FIFA mandated dates. I know what Kevin Molino would be like if I told him he can’t go play against Argentina. We have a squad of players, 23 players, that will have the opportunity for the guys to step in and show they can hold a regular spot.” 

OCSC will be without the services of Tommy Redding (United States U18), Darwin Ceren (El Salvador) and Kevin Molino (Trinidad & Tobago) for the match against the Impact Reserves. However, they will be available for Orlando when they host the Orange County Blues on Wednesday, June 11. 

Here’s more on what Heath said during Wednesday’s team training: