Valentino and Molino score early, propel Lions into tie for first place!
Orlando City SC defeated the visiting Seattle Sounders Reserves 2-0 on Sunday, August 11, in front of 10,697 fans, marking a regular season attendance record at Fifth Third Bank Field at the Florida Citrus Bowl. Kevin Molino and Rob Valentino were the goal-scorers for Orlando, propelling City back into a tie first place in the USL PRO with the Richmond Kickers.
“One of the most pleasing performances of the season,” said Head Coach Adrian Heath after the win. “As a unit, from the front to the back, I thought we played really well.”
The Lions had a terrific start to the match, when Molino collected an errant pass deep in the Sounders’ territory in the first minute of play. The Trinidadian ran at the Seattle defense and had Strikers Dennis Chin and Jean Alexandre in space, but decided to go for goal on his own.
The 2012 USL PRO MVP hit a hard strike from just outside the area, causing a deflection off Sounders’ Defender Zach Scott and into the back of the net to give City an early one-goal lead. Molino’s effort came just 36 seconds into the match, and marked the fastest goal in the club’s history.
Seattle responded moments later with a chance of its own, when Striker David Estrada found himself on the end of a well-placed cross. Estrada’s timed his run to perfection and nearly scored, but defensive stallion Rob Valentino was there to clear it off the line.
As the half ensued, City held the majority of possession and looked threatening each time they ventured forward into Seattle’s defensive third. Midfielders Luke Boden and Kevin Molino were heavily involved in each of the attacking plays; however Valentino would be the one to provide the Lions with their second goal of the half.
The defender’s goal stemmed from a corner kick, when Midfielder Anthony Pulis swung in a curling ball to the near-post. Valentino surged past the Seattle defense and used the outside of his foot to flick the ball past Sounders Goalkeeper Andrew Weber in the 30th minute.
Seattle also held several chances of their own through the first 45, showing their MLS quality in brief spells. However, skipper Miguel Gallardo and the Lion’s back-line remained firm and maintained a clean-sheet heading into halftime.
To begin the second half, Seattle’s defense looked a bit sharper than it did in the opening period. The gaping holes that allowed Alexandre and Dennis Chin to get in behind and create opportunities were tightened up, and moving forward became more difficult for the Lions’ attacking players.
However, Heath brought on Chinese Striker Long Tan for Alexandre early in the second-half, providing energy and fresh legs to the City front-line. Shortly after his entry, Tan began combining effectively with Molino and Chin in the final third, yielding several chances.
Chin found himself on the end of a few of those opportunities and was unlucky to not convert after hitting the crossbar in what seemed to be a clear-cut chance. Despite their probing efforts, the second-half would remain scoreless and the match would finish with a resounding 2-0 victory in favor of Orlando.
The win clinches a potential home semi-final match for the Lions, which is scheduled for Friday, August 30. Moving forward, Orlando has a stretch of crucial matches. City is set to travel to play the Kickers in Richmond, VA., on Wednesday, August 14, in what could potentially determine who takes home the 2013 USL PRO Regular Season Championship. The Lions will then return home to take on the Charlotte Eagles, on August 17, before their quarter-final playoff match- set for Saturday, August 24. The playoff match will kickoff at 7:30 p.m., and the opponent is yet to be determined.
About Orlando City Soccer Club: A premier professional soccer sports franchise in the United States and is a member of the USL PRO. The Lion’s pro team has won two regular season titles and one postseason championship during their short time in Orlando. Outside of the pro squad, OCSC also has their own youth club, Orlando City Youth Soccer (OCYS) and a U23s team that participates in the PDL. For more information on the pro and youth clubs, visit www.orlandocitysoccer.