Orlando City (3-2-0, 10 points) drew the Charlotte Eagles (1-1-1, 4 points) 1-1 at the Queen Sports Complex in Charlotte, N.C. Tuesday night, moving the Lions to the top of the league standings through five games played. A goal by Dom Dwyer in the 8th minute put Orlando up early, only for a late equalizer by Eagles’ Midfielder Nathan Thornton in the 90th minute allowing Charlotte to grab the tie and win from the Lions.
The Lions jumped out to an early lead, with a well-placed corner from Winger Luke Boden finding an unmarked Dom Dwyer in the box for the header and goal in the 8th minute. Dwyer, who’s currently on loan from Orlando’s Major League Soccer affiliate Sporting Kansas City, whipped his conversion into the back of the net for the 1-0 lead. The goal was Dwyer’s third of the regular season, which ties him for team and league best with Midfielder Jamie Watson.
Orlando continued to create more chances in the first half, along with deterring the Eagles of any scoring opportunities of their own. The scoreline remained at 1-0 to close out the first 45 minutes of play, with a familiar face in goal helping the Lions’ defense keep the score sheet clean.
Orlando Goalkeeper Sean Kelley made his first start of the 2013 season with the Lions for a sidelined Miguel Gallardo and banged-up Jon Kempin. Kelley, who was signed prior to the start of the season, is familiar to Head Coach Adrian Heath’s system, playing for the Lions in 2011 and 2012 as backup to Gallardo.
The Lexington, Ky., native made key saves for the Lions in the first half, including a diving deflection in the 27th minute. Eagles’ Defender Shaun Francis rocketed a shot outside the 18’ yard only for Kelley to punch it out of danger while extending his arms and diving to his left.
Charlotte came out of halftime with a more active attack, putting pressure on the Orlando backline. After trying to breakthrough, Charlotte capitalized in the closing minutes of play. A long ball by an Eagle defender found Midfielder Nathan Thornton toward goal, with a costly defensive miscommunication, allowing him to weave around Kelley and easily slot home the equalizer in the 90th minute of play.
The Lions come back home this Saturday, April 27, to play the Dayton Dutch Lions at Fifth Third Bank Field at the Florida Citrus Bowl. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Orlando is 2-0-4 (W-L-T) all-time against Dayton, who currently holds a 1-0-0 record through one game played in the young 2013 regular season. For more information on the Saturday’s match, visit Orlandocitysoccer.com.