ORLANDO CITY REMAINS CONFIDENT IN HEADING INTO PLAYOFFS
Rivalry heats up in first-ever playoff meeting between the Lions and Hammerheads
ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando City Soccer Club begins their title defense on Friday as they kick off the 2012 USL PRO Playoffs against their fierce rivals, the Wilmington Hammerheads at 7:30 p.m. at the Citrus Bowl.
“Like I say against everyone, we’ll give them the respect they deserve,” said Orlando City Soccer Head Coach Adrian Heath. “But we don’t fear anyone. We’re confident in our own ability to get the job done.”
The bad blood between the two sides has been brewing all season long, starting with the Lions defeating the Hammerheads 4-1 in the 2012 home opener. Orlando City dominated the game, and set the tone for a record-breaking season with the statement win.
Wilmington returned the favor when the City travelled north to Legion Stadium, and defeated the Lions 3-1. It was Orlando City Soccer’s only loss of the USL PRO season. Orlando’s players and coaching staff haven’t forgotten.
“We scored first, early on, but we didn’t play well,” said Heath. “It’s tight up there, and that gave us some trouble. Fortunately, we don’t have that issue at home.”
In the two matches between City and Wilmington, the Lions have outscored the Hammerheads 5-2, but in the most recent meeting, the match was played to a 1-1 draw. Much of that scoreline was the result of the Hammerheads’ defense-minded strategy and willingness to sit and wait for countering opportunities.
“I think it’s difficult for teams to not do that when they come here to play us,” said Heath, referring to Wilmington’s defensive strategy. “Especially when we play well. I thought a lot of our football was very, very good in the last game.”
Statistically, the Lions dominated that final match, outshooting the Hammerheads 36-6. Though Orlando City Soccer scored only once, they also hit the post several times. The Hammerheads managed just one serious scoring chance, the result of a surprising defensive lapse from the league’s best back line, but they made it count. Orlando will be keen to avoid those mistakes on Friday.
“If we have that many efforts at goal again, I’ll be delighted,” said Heath. “That will probably win us the game. But it’s that time of the year now – play well and carry on or go home. Our memories of the final last year are still very vivid, very fresh. That will be out motivation on Friday, because we want to experience that again.
The match will be broadcast locally on AM 740 The Game, and will be simulcast on USLNation.com for those outside Orlando. Tickets for the match are still available, and start at just $15. For more information, call 855-ORL-CITY or visit www.orlandocitysoccer.com today.
Player to Watch – Kevin Molino:
This season, as Dennis Chin goes, so does Orlando City. The 2012 USL PRO Goals Champion and Points Champion has been the Lions’ breakout star this season, and for good reason. He makes things happen. But behind Chin, there has been a far more important player pulling the strings – Kevin Molino.
Though he has registered just seven official assists on Orlando City’s 50 goals this season, there’s hardly a scoring chance the Lions have converted that doesn’t involve Molino in some manner. Like last year’s USL PRO MVP Yordany Alvarez, Molino pulls the strings in the City offense. His distribution skills are unmatched in the league. If Molino plays well, the Lions will move on to the USL PRO Championship for the second straight season.
About Orlando City Soccer Club:Orlando City Soccer Club (OCSC) is one of Orlando’s premier professional sports franchises. Orlando City plays in the USL PRO league, part of the United Soccer Leagues. During the inaugural 2011 season, the Orlando City Lions captured the USL PRO American Division, Regular Season, and Playoff championships, and was named the 2011 USL PRO Organization of the Year. For more information, visit www.orlandocitysoccer.com today.
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