TEMPE, Az. - Orlando City SC kicked off the 2013 USL PRO season opener in comeback fashion, defeating expansion side Phoenix FC 3-1 at the Sun Devil Soccer Stadium in Tempe, Ariz. Sunday night. After being down 1-0 in the opening part of the match, the Lions scored three unanswered to take the victory and three points to begin the 2013 regular season.
The match in Tempe began with scoring chances for the Lions, including a free kick resulting from a controversial challenge by Phoenix Goalkeeper Andrew Weber. The former Seattle Sounder took down a charging Dom Dwyer outside the 18-yard box, giving the keeper an early yellow card. The Lions couldn’t connect on the ensuing corner, but kept control early on against the expansion side.
Phoenix responded with attacks of their own, capitalizing in the 16th minute. Speedy Midfielder Diego Faria caught the Lions sleeping just past the 15 minute mark, beating Goalkeeper and Sporting Kansas City loanee Jon Kempin after intercepting a pass from the Orlando backline to give his expansion club an early 1-0 lead.
After the early goal, Orlando settled down in the later part of the first half– nearly capitalizing on multiple chances before finally breaking through in the 35th minute. Forward Jamie Watson found a clear lane on the right side of the pitch outside the 18-yard mark, with his pass curling in and finding a charging Dom Dwyer in stride. The Sporting loanee headed the ball past Weber, tying the match at 1-1.
The Lions came out in the second half with increased energy and fight, controlling possession for the majority of the second half. Head Coach Adrian Heath made a crucial change in the 63rd minute, subbing in former DC United Striker Long Tan to push the attack – which is exactly what the Chinese forward did.
After a well-played through ball by 2012 USL PRO MVP Kevin Molino, Tan took care of the rest – chipping his attempt up and over Weber to give the Lions the 2-1 advantage.
Orlando wasn’t done scoring, converting their third straight after Molino found space on the righthand side, blasting his shot home to give Orlando the comfortable 3-1 lead in the closing part of the match.
Orlando now heads further west to meet the L.A. Blues for a Wednesday night matchup at Cal State Fullerton Titan Stadium. The match was originally scheduled for 7 p.m. but has moved back one hour to 8 p.m. EST kick off time. The Blues are 1-1-0 through two games in the young USL PRO season, topping Phoenix 2-0 in the league opener on March 23 before falling to VSI Tampa Bay FC 0-1 on April 2. The match will be live streamed on USLNation.
For more information on Wednesday’s away game in Los Angeles and the upcoming home opener this Sunday, April 14, at Fifth Third Bank Field at the Florida Citrus Bowl against the Rochester Rhinos, visit Orlandocitysoccer.com.