Monday, September 15, 2014

Pulis appointed OCYS academy coach

(Courtesy of Orlando City)
By Mike Gramajo

After announcing his retirement from professional soccer on Sunday via Twitter, former Orlando City midfielder Anthony Pulis will be joining Orlando City Youth Soccer effective immediately, the club announced on Monday. 

“I’m very grateful to Phil, Paul and Adrian for giving me this opportunity to work for such a fantastic organization as it transitions into MLS,” Pulis said in a statement. “It’s sad to finish playing, but I’ve always taken a keen interest in coaching and it’s something I’m passionate about. It’s a really exciting time to be a part of this club, and I can’t wait to get started.”

Pulis, 30, was an integral part of Orlando City since 2012, progressing himself to a veteran defensive midfielder in head coach Adrian Heath’s system. However, 2014 was plagued with injuries for the Englishmen, making a total of 12 appearances in league play. 

Before joining OCSC, the midfielder played 10 years in England most notably for clubs Stoke City, Bristol Rovers, and Southampton. 

Pulis, whose father is former Crystal Palace’s manager Tony Pulis, finished his Orlando City career with 44 appearances while scoring four times. 

Video: Orlando City bids farewell to USL PRO

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Orlando City projected starting XI versus Harrisburg City Islanders | USL PRO Playoffs

(Courtesy of Orlando City)
By Mike Gramajo 

A brand new season starts on Saturday night for Orlando City SC. OCSC now have three games to go before they can lift the USL PRO championship for the second consecutive time but nothing is guaranteed, especially when they welcome the Harrisburg City Islanders to the ESPN Wide World of Sports for first-round playoff action tonight (WATCH HERE). 

Orlando City head coach Adrian Heath has made it a norm throughout the regular season by running a 4-2-3-1 formation, and that isn’t expected to change on Saturday except for players filling in the positions. 

Darwin Ceren will miss Saturday’s match after still being on international duty with El Salvador, meaning the holding midfield position will more than likely go to a player who has been on form. Defender Rafael Ramos picked up a knock earlier this week at practice, and didn’t train with the team on their last training session on Thursday. 

Tyler Turner (quad) did, however, practice with the Lions and left Heath with the decision to come toward game time. 

One veteran player that will not suit up for OCSC is goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo. The veteran goalkeeper missed out on the last four games for Orlando City after Carl Woszczynski displayed a superb performance along with a plethora of saves that helped Orlando City navigate to a third USL PRO Commissioner's Cup. 

Below is the OSJ’s projected Starting XI for the Lions: 

Projected Starting Lineup vs. Harrisburg City Islanders 

Head Coach: Adrian Heath 
Formation: 4-2-3-1

---------------------Woszczynski ----------------

Burke ------- Valentino ------ Rusin ------- Boden

-------------------da Luz ------ Estrela ---------------

Span ---------------- Molino ------------- Mbengue 

  --------------------- Gentile --------------

-- ——

What do you make of the projected starting XI? Do you agree with it? Who do you see starting for Orlando City? Share your comments below. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Report: Orlando City to send 8-10 players to affiliate in Louisville at conclusion of season

By Mike Gramajo

Louisville City’s roster hasn’t come to fruition just yet, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t looking at Orlando City’s current USL squad for future players. 

According to WFPL News out of Louisville, Kentucky, Louisville City FC president Wayne Estopinal revealed that his club may acquire 8-10 players from Orlando City’s current USL side once the 2014 USL PRO postseason comes to a close. 

Louisville City, who are expected to join USL PRO in 2015, will be Orlando City’s USL affiliate after the Lions were awarded a Major League Soccer franchise back in November 2013, and are expected to kickoff in MLS in six months. 

Former Orlando City player/coach James O’Connor is the head coach of Louisville City, who are expected to play their home games at a renovated Louisville Slugger Field 

Out of Orlando City’s current 2014 USL roster, six players are expected to make the move to MLS next year; Kevin Molino, Darwin Ceren, Tyler Turner, Tommy Redding, Rafael Ramos and Estrela. 

Adama Mbengue, Luke Boden, Rob Valentino and Bradford Rusin have been projected players to make the move to MLS with Orlando City, but have yet been offered a contract. 

What are your thoughts on this report? Who do you think follows Orlando City to MLS, and who is packing their bags to Louisville? Share your comments below. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Orlando City Notes: Heath talks playoffs; Woszczynski gets nod as starting goalkeeper; updates on international players and injuries

By Mike Gramajo

SANFORD, Fla. — The last time Orlando City Soccer Club went into the USL PRO playoffs as regular season champions?

2012. A year head coach Adrian Heath will always remember simply because it resulted into a shocking first-round defeat for the Lions. Heath isn’t, or letting, the past dictate Saturday’s performance when Orlando City welcomes the Harrisburg City Islanders, but constantly pinpoints back to 2012 as a lesson in defeat. 

“We didn’t approach the game and we didn’t start well, but that’s what happens when you don’t prepare properly,” Heath said on the 2012 playoff loss. “All we can do is prepare properly. That’s the message we’ve been banging home. I expect no difference on Saturday.” 

Orlando City and Harrisburg split the season series even, with both sides each having a victory both times they met. Orlando City, who have been unbeaten at home all season, have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, which is something Heath said is key heading into the postseason. 

“We’ve worked hard to get home field advantage,” Heath said. “There’s no need to throw it away. I have much faith in this group that when we do play well, we have the tools to win the game. Now we want to win the game and go on the next stage of the playoffs. 

Here’s more notes regarding OCSC’s first-round playoff match on Saturday: 

Woszczynski receives nod to be starting goalkeeper against Harrisburg
After starting the last three matches for Orlando City, Heath looks to continue starting goalkeeper Carl Woszczynski in the playoffs.

“He [Woszczynski] will start the game on Saturday,” Heath confirmed with the OSJ. 

Despite only making four appearances this season, Woszczynski has allowed one goal while recording two shutouts behind his 10 saves in 2014. 

Ceren still on international duty, likely to miss first round
In the midst of the Copa CentroAmericana, Orlando City’s Darwin Ceren will miss Saturday’s encounter vs. Harrisburg after the El Salvador national team clinched a third place matchup against Panama. 

“I think Darwin is back next week,” said Heath. “We have an arrangement that he comes back next week. I’m pleased for him, I don’t stop anybody from going to the national team because I think it’s important.”

Despite Los Guanacos already earning a 2015 Gold Cup berth, Heath expects Ceren to be back after the first round, that’s if Orlando City makes it past Harrisburg City. 

Orlando City Injury updates
With a deadly attack that has scored a combined 56 goals (most all season) in the regular season, OCSC are entering the playoffs with all three of their available strikers injury-free. 

Dennis Chin, Giuseppe Gentile and Corey Hertzog all trained with the team on Thursday morning, leaving Heath plenty of options to work with come game day. 

Hertzog recently came back from a hamstring injury, while Chin also suffered earlier in season with his hamstring. Gentile, who’s been on form as of recent, might start up front against Harrisburg after previous games showed his partnership with Kevin Molino worked wonders in Orlando’s final third. 

The only player that may not see any action on Saturday is defender Rafael Ramos, who picked up a knock earlier this week and practiced apart from the team on Thursday. Heath told the OSJ that he’s ‘50/50’ while refusing to place a timetable on his return. 

Despite only playing four games this season, the former Benfica man is eligible for the USL PRO postseason given the five-games played rule applies only to players who are on loan from MLS teams. Therefore, midfielder Ian Christianson, on loan from New York Red Bulls, is ruled out for the remainder of the USL playoffs after only making three appearances for Orlando. 

Tyler Turner, who suffered a quad injury and pulled out of the United States U-20 men's national team, trained with the team on Thursday, and could be a game-time decision after missing the last two weeks of the regular season. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Molino claims treble in statistical race

(Courtesy of Orlando City)
By Mike Gramajo 

There’s no doubt Kevin Molino is lighting the way for Orlando City in their final USL PRO season. 

The Trinidad and Tobago international, who scored a single-season record 20 goals this season, was announced winner of three USL statistical awards, claiming the Golden Boot, Scoring Champion and Assist Champion on Tuesday. 

Orlando City’s first-ever MLS signing recorded nine assists for the Lions, while finishing the season with 49 points. Molino, who won the 2012 USL PRO Most Valuable Player, is no doubt in the running to claim league MVP for a second time in his career after guiding OCSC to a third regular season championship. 

Molino has 22 goals in all competitions, placing him as stop scorer in the American soccer pyramid (MLS, NASL, USL PRO). 


True or FALSE: Kevin Molino is the greatest Orlando City (USL) player of all time. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Kevin Molino caps scoring record at 20 goals, as Orlando City defeat Richmond Kickers

By Mike Gramajo

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Same guy, different game. 

Kevin Molino scored his 20th goal of the season, as Orlando City Soccer Club defeated the Richmond Kickers 1-0 on Saturday night at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, in front of 4,400 fans in attendance. 

“I honestly think he’s [Molino] one of the most talented footballers in America,” said Heath. “He’s demonstrated that he’s more than capable of moving to the next level. It’s been a great year at home. Winning becomes a habit, it’s not easy to do.”

The Trinidad and Tobago international scored in the 23rd minute after defender Luke Boden’s cross found the midfielder, who headed the ball past Richmond goalkeeper Ryan Taylor. 

OCSC outshot the Kickers 15-5, with the first half being the busiest halve for the Lions as they outshot Richmond 9-2 with Carl Woszczynski as the starting goalkeeper for Orlando for the second consecutive time at home. 

With the USL PRO regular season now over with, Orlando finishes in first place with 62 points (19-4-5), while also being Invictus at home. 

Orlando City now secures home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, starting their postseason run on Saturday, September 13 where they will either play the Rochester Rhinos or Harrisburg City Islanders. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Kaka scores pivotal game-winner, leads Sao Paulo to next round of Copa Sudamericana

By Mike Gramajo

Sao Paulo FC were down 2-1 on aggregate vs. Criciuma heading into Thursday’s second leg of the Copa Sudamericana, that all changed thanks to Kaka. 

The Orlando City loanee scored the game winner in the 40th minute after the Tricolor tied the aggregate score in the 32nd minute. Paulo Henrique Ganso played the ball to an open Kaka, as he slotted the ball into the net giving the home team the advantage to navigate to the next round. 

Overall, Kaka played 77 minutes for Sao Paulo as they prepare for an away league match at Sport Recife on Sunday. Sao Paulo are currently on a six-game unbeaten streak, sitting in second place in the Brazilian Serie A, seven points away from first-placed Cruzeiro. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Orlando City win USL PRO regular season

(Photo by Nigel Worrall)

By Mike Gramajo 

For the third time in four years, Orlando City Soccer Club are USL PRO regular season champions. 

OCSC clinched the title during a scoreless away match at Wilmington Hammerheads on Wednesday night, which navigated Orlando to 59 points (club record) in the standings with one game left to play before the playoffs. 

Orlando City host the Richmond Kickers on Saturday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports for their last game of the season. They will also honor former OCSC player Yordany ‘Gio’ Alvarez before the game after announcing his retirement from professional soccer. 

The Lions also have home advantage throughout the playoffs, which is expected to kick off on September 13.