LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Corey Hertzog scored his first goal of the season in USL PRO league play on Saturday night in the first half, as the Lions took a 2-0 victory over the Charleston Battery at ESPN Wide World of Sports. Kevin Molino, who leads USL PRO in goals scored this season with 9, added another finish late in the second half.
“It’s been an incredible effort from the guys, dealing with 10 games in a month,” said Head Coach Adrian Heath. “Hats off to them, but we’ll get back to work on Tuesday and begin preparing for Montreal.”
Orlando City spent the majority of the first half attempting to break through Charleston’s tight defensive lines, as the Battery had ten men behind the ball with hopes to employ Mamadou Diouf’s pace on the counter.
Due to Charleston’s defensive tactics, the first half seemed destined to end score-less, but Corey Hertzog broke the deadlock when he scored his first goal of the season, in league play, in the 42nd minute. The forward was in a good position when Molino headed the ball into the box and flicked it past Charleston Goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper, resulting in a 1-0 score-line at half-time.
“Overall we’re really pleased for Corey,” added Heath. “He got his reward tonight for the work he’s put in throughout the past few games.”
Prior to Hertzog’s finish, Orlando had several other chances to score towards the end of the first half. City’s first real chance came in the 21st minute when Austin da Luz created separation and curled an effort that went just over the cross bar.
One minute later Molino ran past the Battery defense and surged into the box after a poor giveaway from Charleston near the half-line. Rather than shooting from a difficult angle, Molino opted to pull it across the box for Hertzog, but Charleston Defender John Wilson was able to get there first and clear it away.
Molino had another prime chance inside the area in the 33rd minute but couldn’t latch on to da Luz’s ball that skipped off the wet surface.
Charleston, on the other hand, had two half-chances early on but Gallardo and the Orlando managed them capably. In the 11th minute, Battery Midfielder Zach Prince produced a strong effort from the edge of the area, but Gallardo was able to parry it wide, allowing Rusin to clear the danger away.
Three minutes later, Quinton Griffith fired from 25 yards, but it ended up being a comfortable save for Gallardo who has been in excellent form this season.
The second half featured an increased sense of urgency to go forward from Charleston, who were in desperate search of an equalizer. Throughout the first 20 minutes of the second half, the Battery created several nervous moments for Orlando through crosses and set-pieces.
The closest chance for the South Carolina based club came in the 53rd minute when Diouf’s strike rattled off the far post. Diouf, who has scored Charleston’s only goal of the season against Orlando, came within inches of scoring his second goal of the season.
Unfortunately for Charleston, Kevin Molino, who leads USL PRO in goals, added the final dagger in the 76th minute. Battery ‘keeper Odisnel Cooper played a poor pass that went directly to Brian Span, who quickly played it wide for da Luz. The former Carolina Railhawks midfielder unselfishly pulled it across to Molino for a comfortable tap-in.
With the win, Orlando continues to maintain its unbeaten run that dates back to February. Since losing its first preseason game to the Chicago Fire, Orlando has not lost a match to a professional sports team from the United States.
City’s next match will take place on Saturday, June 7, against the Montreal Impact Reserves. Kick-off is set for 7:30 p.m. at ESPN Wide World of Sports.