Sunday, August 31, 2014

Highlights: Orlando City (7-0) Dayton D.Lions

Kevin Molino hails ‘brother’ Yordany Alvarez

(Molino (center left) and Yordany Alvarez (right) earlier in the season)

By Mike Gramajo 

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Sunday night might have been another day at the office for Orlando City. A 7-0 victory behind a hat-trick from MLS signing Kevin Molino. 

But it was more than just a day at work. It was the start of one of many celebrations to come for Yordany Alvarez, who announced his retirement from soccer after citing medical reasons. 

“First and foremost, coming to the game with sad news of Yordany retiring, so my three goals was for him,” Molino told reporters after the game. “I’ve been playing with him for a couple years, great guy, great player. We have to win the league for Gio (Alvarez) who won’t be playing with us no more.

“He’s someone we love, one of my good friends. To see the way he has to retire is heart breaking. We want to continue to show him support. He’s not a teammate, he’s my brother. Yordany, we hang out together, we party together. It’s very emotional as I speak now to see Yordany not here with us. Seeing that No. 10 shirt, that desire and that passion and commitment he had for the club.” 

Despite only few games together this season, the friendship between both Molino and Alvarez dates back to Orlando City’s inaugural season in 2011. Although Alvarez finished that season as USL PRO Most Valuable Player, it was a relationship, mostly started by Heath, that began to form on and off the field. 

One Cuban and one Trinidadian formed a friendship that soon went different ways. Molino earned league MVP the following season and Alvarez went on to sign with MLS side Real Salt Lake. 

It seemed like it was destiny when it was announced that Alvarez would be returning not only to Orlando but to reunite with a ‘brother’ they shared one championship season together. 

“He’s been one of my favorite players since I’ve been in the (United) States,” said Heath on Alvarez. “For me to see him move on from here to go on to the MLS I was delighted, but I was even more delighted to get him back.” 

Although both Molino and Alvarez share one USL PRO championship together, no matter the outcome of Orlando City’s 2014 season, their friendship off the field will overweigh any trophy on the field. League glory, however, is in the hands of destiny. 

And if there’s one thing both players have in common, destiny has already appeared on and off the field. 

Molino scores hat-trick, Orlando City thrash Dayton Dutch Lions

(Courtesy of OCSC)
By Mike Gramajo

LAKE BUENA VISTA — There’s no stopping Kevin Molino - Not even the Dutch Lions. 

Molino recorded his second hat-trick of the season, as Orlando City SC defeated the Dayton Dutch Lions 7-0 on Sunday evening at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. 

“All the goals were important tonight,”said Orlando City head coach Adrian Heath. “The kid (Molino) is putting goals to his game now. The only thing lacking in his game is not scoring enough goals. He’s changed so much since he’s been with us, now he’s scoring goals.”

The Trinidad and Tobago international wasted no time in putting OCSC in front, scoring six minutes into the game after forward Giuseppe Gentile found the midfielder to strike the ball past Matt Williams. Gentile would get on the scoresheet to double the lead in the 37th minute before Molino scored his second moments later after a defensive error lead to Molino striking the ball from close range into the net. 

Heath opted to have a different lineup compared to his previous one last Thursday, which saw the Lions fall on the road. That wouldn’t matter, as a combo-play between Gentile and Molino found Austin da Luz to make it 4-0 in the 47th minute. Molino capped his hat-trick in the 57th minute after Gentile’s shot deflected off Dayton’s goalkeeper, finding Molino to strike past Williams. 

“We want to win the regular season,” added Heath. “We put ourselves in a good opportunity to win the regular season, which to me is really important.” 

Molino leads USL PRO in the Golden Boot with 19 goals (record), while Orlando City extending their unbeaten run at home to 16 games. OCSC will travel to Legion Stadium on Wednesday to rematch the Wilmington Hammerheads. 

Orlando City could clinch the regular season on Wednesday with a win over the Hammerheads before returning for their last match of the season when they host the Richmond Kickers on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

After suffering concussion in June, Yordany Alvarez hangs up his boots

(Courtesy of OCSC)
By Mike Gramajo

Orlando City Soccer Club may have already started building their Major League Soccer squad for next year, but one of their prolonged players won’t be there come 2015. 

Midfielder Yordany Alvarez, who was on loan from Real Salt Lake and signed an MLS contract for 2015 with OCSC, announced his retirement from professional soccer on Friday after suffering a concussion on June 7 during USL Pro play. 

“We are deeply saddened by this news, but Yordany’s long-term health and well-being must be at the forefront of any decision regarding his future,” Orlando City President Phil Rawlins said in a news release.  “To that end, both the Club and the entire Orlando Health medical staff were very prudent throughout this process in making sure he underwent extensive examinations to determine the possible causes of his condition and to find the best treatment so he can continue to live a full life.”

Alvarez, who defected from Cuba in 2008, was part of Phil Rawlins’ Austin Aztex organization from 2008-2010 before moving the franchise to Orlando in 2011. The Cuban native then navigated Orlando City to the 2011 USL Pro championship during their inaugural season, which also earned him league MVP for that season. 

After one year in Orlando, Alvarez signed with Real Salt Lake in 2012 before reuniting with Heath prior to the 2014 USL Pro season. According to OCSC officials, Alvarez will not be leaving the organization, but will be working with the Orlando City Youth Academy. 

Orlando City’s current 2015 MLS roster consists of Kevin Molino, Darwin Ceren, Tyler Turner, Tommy Redding, Ricardo Kaka, Rafael Ramos and Estrela. 

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

#KakaWatch: Kaka completes 90 minutes, as Sao Paulo win fourth straight

(Getty Images)
By Mike Gramajo

Ricardo Kaka inspired Sao Paulo FC to a fourth-straight victory, topping Santos 2-1 on Sunday at Estadio do Morumbi. 

The Orlando City loanee played the full 90 minutes before being substituted out in stoppage-time for Hudson. 

Paulo Henrique Ganso gave Sao Paulo the early lead, smashing in a volley from close range in the 23rd minute. The lead looked short-lived for the home team when Santos’ Gabriel Marcou equalized in the 85th minute after converting a penalty kick, but the equalizer was denied moments later when Alexandre Pato scored the winner after finding a pass from Denilson to slot the ball past the goalkeeper. 

Sao Paulo look to keep the momentum going when they clash against Criciuma on Thursday in Copa Sudamericana play. Highlights from Sunday’s league win coming soon.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Orlando City fall at Charlotte, as road woes continue for the Lions

CHARLOTTE, NC. – Despite creating several threatening chances and dominating possession throughout tonight’s match, Orlando City SC (16-3-4, 52 points) fell to the Charlotte Eagles (9-13-3, 30 points) 2-0 in a physical road contest.

After a scoreless first half, Eagles’ Midfielder Wells Thompson scored a brace in the latter portion of the second 45, resulting in Orlando’s first-ever loss to Charlotte in 10 outings. City’s two previous matches against Charlotte this season at ESPN Wide World of Sports came in the fashion of 3-1 and 4-1 wins. 

With Charlotte sitting deep in their own half, Orlando’s notable possession-oriented style of play was highly visible in the first half of tonight’s match, as the Lions repeatedly tried to break through the Eagles’ defense. City’s first clear-cut chance came in the 18th minute when Forward Corey Hertzog produced a booming strike from distance, forcing Charlotte Goalkeeper Alec Kann to leap and make a finger-tip save.

As the half progressed, Orlando continued to put Kann and the Charlotte backline under pressure with a flurry of attacking plays. In the final 15 minutes of the half, Orlando produced three quality efforts on goal, including a near-finish from da Luz that hit the post.

Unfortunately for Orlando, Charlotte’s ability to sustain the Lions unrelenting attacks would pay dividends for the North Carolina-based side in the second half when Wells Thompson opened the scoring in the 72ndminute. The midfielder’s driven effort from the right-side of the box ricocheted off the post, leaving Gallardo with no opportunity for the save.

City responded immediately by pushing forward in search of the equalizer in hopes of preserving crucial road points. However, Thompson was able to capitalize on a counter-attack when he notched his brace deep into stoppage time.

NEXT MATCH: Orlando City will face the Richmond Kickers at City Stadium on Saturday, August 23. Kick-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET

— Jhamie Chin / Orlando City SC 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Orlando City back to winning ways, Molino ties single-season league scoring record

By Mike Gramajo

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Darwin Ceren scored a brace while Kevin Molino tied a single-season league scoring record, as Orlando City Soccer Club defeated Harrisburg City Islanders 3-1 on Saturday night, in front of a sold-out crowd of 5,029 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. 

“Goals change games,” said Orlando City head coach Adrian Heath. “I thought the lads were focused. They worked really hard this week, and we aren’t used to losing. Kevin (Molino) is starting to do what we’re asking. He’s having a great year in front of goal.” 

After Robbie Derschang scored the opening goal for Harrisburg in the first five minutes, Ceren leveled the game moments later when a free-kick from distance curled into the net. Orlando City took the lead in the 19th minute when Molino’s close-range header drove past goalkeeper Nicholas Noble. 

Ceren capped the game in the 88th minute after a counter-attack lead to the El Salvadoran international to produce a moment of magic when he dribbled past the Harrisburg defensive line, slotting the ball past Noble for the goal. 

Orlando City will now go on a two-game road stretch where they will meet the Charlotte Eagles on August 20, before going into City Stadium to battle the Richmond Kickers three days later. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

How's Orlando City's MLS squad looking like?

By Mike Gramajo

With less than 12 months to go until their Major League Soccer debut, Orlando City Soccer Club has one ball rolling when it comes to building their squad.

Last time we saw Orlando City make an MLS roster announcement, it was in early July when Ricardo Kaka was named the club’s first designated player. However, the former World Player of the Year will spend six months in his boyhood club in Brazil, Sao Paulo, before rejoining OCSC for MLS preseason camp in January 2015. 

The Lions most recently announced two more signings to its MLS squad. Per Orlando’s strategic agreement with Portugal side SL Benfica, OCSC acquired Rafael Ramos (19) and Valdomiro Lameira (18) on Thursday. Both players will join Orlando for the remainder of the USL PRO season before moving into MLS with the Lions. 

Below is the updated Orlando City MLS roster: 
Goalkeepers (0): 

Defenders (3): Tyler Turner, Tommy Redding, Rafael Ramos

Midfielders (5): Kevin Molino, Darwin Ceren, Kaka (DP), Estrela

Forwards (0): 

Head Coach: Adrian Heath

General Manager: Paul McDonough 

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What do you think of the roster? Who from Orlando City's current USL team would you like to see make Orlando's MLS team?