USL PRO Trophy Returns to Orlando

Lions win 2nd title in 3 years with help from Dom Dwyer
by Danny Morales   |   Monday, September 09, 2013

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

ORLANDO – Dom Dwyer netted 4 goals and assisted another in a record setting performance as Orlando City won its 2nd USL PRO championship in 3 years by defeating the Charlotte Eagles 7-4 in front of a USL PRO record crowd of 20,886 at Fifth Third Bank Field at the Citrus Bowl.

“It’s a little bit surreal at the minute because I’ve never been involved in a game like it in my life,” said Orlando City manager Adrian Heath following the game. “First time I’ve been in a game where we scored 7 goals and I’m not sure it’s going to be enough.”

Dwyer’s hat-trick-plus-1 sets a USL record for goals in a championship game and earned him Man of the Match honors. The Lions also set a USL PRO finals record with 7 goals, shattering the old mark of 2 set back in the 2011 championship game.

“Obviously it’s my best season ever,” said Dwyer after the game about his year with Orlando City. “You know I wasn’t happy, that’s the funny thing, I wasn’t happy coming on loan, when I first got sent here I was very unhappy. Credit to Adrian. He worked with me well and he figured out how to get the best of me.”

Despite Orlando City holding much of the possession early, Fejiro Okiomah got the 1st goal of the match when he headed in a corner kick from Jorge Herrera in the 20th minute of play to put the Eagles up 1-0.

Dwyer tied the game at 1-1 for the Lions when he scored his 1st goal of the postseason in the 33rd minute thanks to an assist from Orlando local Dennis Chin. The English striker was playing in his 1st game back in Orlando since being recalled from loan by Sporting Kansas City on July 27th.

Dwyer later put the Lions out in front in the 42nd minute when he headed an Erik Ustruck cross into the back of the net for his 2nd goal of the match.

The lead wouldn’t last long, though, as a minute later the Eagles tied the game up at 2-2 when Christian Ramirez scored his 3rd goal of the playoffs in the 43rd minute.

Both teams went into the locker rooms at halftime with the score tied at 2-2, despite Orlando outshooting Charlotte 12-5 during the first 45 minutes. Orlando City ended the game with 19 shots to the Eagles 7 shots.

“I’m pleased for them,” said Heath about his club after the match. “They worked really, really hard. I’m pleased for the supporters, the crowd here tonight has just put the icing on the cake for me.”

Early in the 2nd half the Eagles took a 3-2 lead in the 58th minute when Ramirez scored his 2nd goal of the match.

Orlando City midfielder Adama Mbengue went down in the box in the 61st minute of play, earning the Lions a penalty kick. Dwyer took the penalty and put it in the bottom left corner of the net, tying the game at 3-3. The penalty kick goal gave Dwyer his 2nd hat-trick of his career and the 1st in a USL PRO final.

Orlando later took a 4-3 lead in the 69th minute when Dwyer scored his 4th goal of the match, adding to his already record tally for a USL PRO final.

“It’s just the way he is,” said Heath about his star forward. “He comes alive in the box, got great movement and undoubtedly if you give him a chance he scores.

“I think he’s a goal scorer that will always score goals,” added Heath. “Even in the MLS.”

Chin extended the Lions lead to 5-3 a minute later when he scored from outside the 18-yard box, doing all but clinching Orlando City’s 2nd league title. His goal in the 70th minute marked the 1st goal in a professional final for the hometown forward, who played his high school soccer at nearby Oviedo High School and collegiate soccer at Orlando’s Rollins College.

“It was crazy, I was just trying to keep my head,” said Chin about scoring a championship goal in his hometown. “It was something I’ll always remember.”

Chin said after the game that he had many friends from high school and college in the stand on Saturday, as well as multiple family members.

Mbengue added another goal for Orlando City, when he scored his 2nd goal of the playoffs in the 85th minute.

Charlotte was able to cut into Orlando’s lead in the 88th minute when Christian Meza scored for the Eagles, but it was too little too.

Chin put in the dagger in the 90th minute, scoring his 4th goal of the 2013 postseason, 1 fewer than his regular-season total.

The Orlando City players will now have physicals and exit interviews during the upcoming week, before enjoying their offseason as 2013 USL PRO champions.

After the game, Man Of the Match winner Dwyer gave his jersey to club president Phil Rawlins as a sign of respect.

“I actually gave him my jersey after the game,” said Dwyer about Orlando City’s English owner. “Just ‘cause how much I appreciate how much he’s done. I honestly don’t think I’d be here today if it wasn’t for him.

“I don’t know how many emails or calls he sent Kansas to try and get me back,” added Dwyer. “So I’m very appreciative of that and you know it doesn’t go unnoticed.”

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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