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.