Orlando City (3-1-0, 9 points) scored three goals in the second half in front of a franchise regular-season record crowd of 9,140 Friday night, topping the LA Blues (3-2-0, 9 points) 3-2 at Fifth Third Bank Field at the Florida Citrus Bowl. With the victory and three points, Orlando now sits tied atop the league table with the Blues, who have a game in-hand on the Lions.
“Overall I’m pleased with the win,” said Orlando City Head Coach Adrian Heath. “If you look at the full 90 minutes, we dominated most of the possession and it would’ve been a travesty if we didn’t come out with the win.”
Orlando began the first half on the offensive, with early chances by Forward Dom Dwyer and Midfielder Jamie Watson keeping the visiting LA squad on their heels. Crosses from Watson to Dwyer and pressure from Forward Long Tan in the beginning minutes created openings in the Blues’ backline, with Orlando pushing throughout the first 45 minutes for a goal.
Scoring opportunities were plenty for the Lions in the first half, with combination plays from Bryan Burke and Kevin Molino finding multiple Lions on corners and through-passes. The LA defense kept up with the consistent Orlando attack however, keeping the scoreline 0-0 heading into halftime.
The Lions finally broke through in the 56th minute, with Tan connecting with Watson in the 57th minute to give Orlando the 1-0 lead. Tan found Watson after maneuvering behind the Blues defense, with the charging midfielder finding the back of the net for the score.
Orlando didn’t let up after the first goal, with Sporting Kansas City loanee and Orlando Defender Yann Songo’o scoring the team’s second of the night in the 62nd minute. From a corner kick, Watson found a leaping Songo’o, who scored his first goal with the team since being loaned to the Lions in March.
LA responded in the 70th minute, with a corner from Rodrigo Lopez connecting with Connor Hearn to cut the deficit to one. But it was again Watson who came through for Orlando, converting a penalty in the 72nd minute after being tripped up in the penalty area, cushioning the lead to 3-1.
A late gasp came from LA in the 89th minute, with Orlando Goalkeeper Jon Kempin tripping a surging Rodrigo Lopez, resulting in a penalty. Lopez, a former Lion, converted on the attempt, but it was too little too late as the Lions hung on to grab the three points and victory.
Orlando now heads back on the road, traveling to Charlotte to face the Eagles on Tuesday, April 23, at Queens University Stadium in Charlotte, North Carlolina. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. EST. The Lions are 3-0-1 all time against the Eagles. Orlando then heads back home for a matchup against the Dayton Dutch Lions on Saturday, April 27, at Fifth Third Bank Field at the Florida Citrus Bowl.