Fourteen games into the season and Orlando City SC is looking like the team we hoped they would. After a rocky start, the Lions have managed to right the ship, collecting 8 points in their last 4 matches. The club is currently on a four match unbeaten streak. But even with the success as of late, there are still some folks that think it’s not enough. To those people I say, consider this… In the first ten matches of the season, the Lions managed to scrape together 9 points out of a possible 30. When you look at what they have accomplished since their 4-0 thrashing of the LA Galaxy on May 17th, it’s easy to see the pieces are beginning to fall into place. I mean after all, we could be New York City FC cleaning the cellar in last place, but we’re not! #NotARivalry
With the recent return of Pedro Ribeiro and Lewis Neal, the club has added a bit more depth to the roster. While Ribeiro was out nursing a torn hamstring, Cyle Larin stepped in and gave Lion’s fans something to cheer about. The number one overall pick has five goals on the season, and is currently tied with last seasons Golden Boot winner, Bradley Wright-Phillips. In the eyes of the Lion faithful, Larin does seem to be well on his way to Rookie of the Year honors.
Coming into Saturday’s match-up against the Chicago Fire, the Lions were sitting in 7th place in the east, one spot out of the playoff race. In what was billed as an important conference match up for both clubs, Orlando City came out sluggish. The first half saw the good guys go down early with a beautifully placed goal by Chicago’s Kennedy Igboananike. Chicago managed to score twice in the half, with one of those benefiting the Lions. Pressure from Pedro Ribeiro, forced Chicago’s Adailton to put the ball in the back of his own net to draw the Lions level at 1-1 going into the break.
In the second half however, we saw a much more aggressive attack from the City lads. Cyle Larin would come on to replace Ribeiro, and it wouldn’t be long before he made his presence felt. Fighting through a couple of defenders, Larin would rip a shot from outside the box that you just had to see to believe! (Highlights can be found by clicking HERE.) Add another own goal by Adailton late in the match, and the Lions would pull out the 3-2 win. This was the clubs first ever win against an Eastern Conference opponent. The win also moved Orlando City up to the 4th place in the conference. With matches coming up against two more Eastern Conference opponents (DC United & Montreal) the Lions are now hopefully hitting their stride. It’s not crunch time just yet, but if they want to stay in the playoff hunt, they cannot afford to keep giving up points against clubs in the east.
US Open Cup play is set to start next week, and Orlando City will log plenty of miles in a short amount of time. After the home match against DC United on June 14th, the Lions travel to Charleston to face the Battery in the 4th round of the US Open Cup on June 17th. However, there will be no rest for the weary! The lads will then head north of the border to face Montreal on June 20th. Three matches in six days will really test the depth of the bench for Adrian Heath and his club!
But first up is league leading DC United. The match is scheduled for Sunday, June 14th, with kick off set for 7:00 pm. This will be the third and final meeting between the two clubs for the regular season. The first two meetings both went the way of United. A 0-1 heartbreaking defeat at home for the Lions in April and a 2-1 road defeat in May. Tickets are still available for this match-up, so be sure to follow the links below for more information.
If you are not able to make it to the match, City Pubs around town will be broadcasting the match complete with drink specials. Check out the link below to find you nearest City Pub location. The game will be carried nationally on Fox Sports 1.