Lions End Regular Season with Shutout Win

Orlando City now have sights set on a playoff championship
by Danny Morales   |   Monday, August 19, 2013

Purple Pride – column on Orlando City SC (OCSC) & the Orlando & Central Florida area soccer scene.

ORLANDO – Freddie Braun scored the lone goal of the match, helping Orlando City defeat the Charlotte Eagles 1-0 on Saturday, Aug. 17, in front of an announced attendance of 10,215 at Fifth Third Bank Field at the Citrus Bowl in their final game of the 2013 regular season.

“The most important thing tonight is that we won the game,” said Orlando City manager Adrian Heath.

The Lions had chances throughout the course of the game, outshooting the Eagles 27-6 but only 3 out of those 27 shots were on target.

“Got to improve our shooting,” said Heath about the ratio of shots-to-goals. “Had a lot of chances tonight. I say it all the time ‘goals change games.’”

Both sides went into the locker room at halftime deadlocked at 0-0 with Charlotte getting 3 shots on goal during the opening half, compared to Orlando’s 0.

Braun broke the scoreless tie in the 50th minute after Adama Mbengue mishit a volley, setting up Braun for his 2nd goal of the season.

Orlando City held on for the final 40 minutes of the match, capturing its 16th win of the season, putting them 1 win and 3 points short of the club’s best record.

With the win the Lions improve their record to 16-4-6 with 54 points and continue their 3-season streak of going unbeaten in the final day of the season, dating back to 2011.

“We just know that our next goal is to win the championship; plain and simple,” said Braun after the game.

Orlando now move forward to the playoffs where they will be the No. 2 seed going up against the No. 7 seed Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Saturday, Aug. 24 in Orlando. Orlando City is 0-1-1 against the Riverhounds this season and have been shutout by Pittsburgh in both of their previous matchups.

“If there’s one thing we’ve lacked since Dom [Dwyer] left, it’s that we haven’t had somebody to put the ball in the back of the net consistently when we’ve played well,” added Heath after the game.

The Lions were upset by the Wilmington Hammerheads in the 2nd round of last year’s playoffs, after a season which saw Orlando City set multiple USL PRO records, including most wins and most points in a season.

Loanees returning for playoffs?

Kevin Ellis was substituted into the game in the 77th minute, making him the 5th Sporting Kansas City player to be eligible to play in the playoffs by USL PRO rules.

USL PRO leading goal scorer Dwyer is also available for Orlando City, but the questions remains will SKC manager Peter Vermes send down the British striker now that he’s found a place as the 1st forward off the bench for Sporting. Orlando City manager Adrian Heath has said in the past that they can always ask Kansas City for Dwyer back, but the decision is up to Sporting.

Forward C.J. Sapong is also available for the playoffs, but he too is getting minutes off the bench with Kansas City.

Sporting have a match the day before Orlando City’s playoff game, as well as a CONCACAF Champions League game on the Aug. 27, just 3 days after Orlando’s quarterfinal match. So it will be interesting to see if the Lions will get any additional loanees or even lose Ellis back to Kansas City within the next week.

Regardless, the club is confident that they can win a championship without any additional loanees.

“Definitely,” said defender Freddie Braun when asked if the current roster could win a championship. “We have all the confidence in the world, we know we’re the best and we’re going to keep that mentality and take it into the games.”

NEXT UP: August 24 - Orlando City vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Fifth Third Bank Field at the Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Fla. 7:30 p.m EST, USL Nation.

Danny MORALES

Nationality:
USA
College:
Valencia College
Club Domestic:
Orlando City
Club Foreign:
Real Madrid
Former athlete turned journalist who remembers the days of the Miami Fusion and Tampa Bay Mutiny, Danny now writes Orlando City news while chronicling the clubs move to become an MLS franchise.
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