Orlando City SC (12-2-6, 42 points) defeated the Harrisburg City Islanders (11-8-1, 34 points) 3-1 Saturday night at Fifth Third Bank Field at the Florida Citrus Bowl. 7,311 supporters watched Orlando Midfielder Jean Alexandre score two in his return from national team play, leading the Lions to a crucial three points at home.
“I thought first half we played terrific and played a lot of really good football,” said Orlando City Head Coach Adrian Heath. “We dropped off in the second half but after all the travel and games we’ve played recently- the upcoming break is coming at the right time.“
Orlando began the match in fine form, finding open spaces behind the Harrisburg backline in the first minutes of play. The first scoring chance for the Lions came in the 20th minute of play, with the second Orlando corner of the night nearly converting for the lead. Defenders Luke Boden and Rob Valentino almost connected on the attempt, with Valentino’s header ricocheting off the crossbar and out of danger. Orlando kept digging, however, with their first score of the match following soon after.
Midfielder Jean Alexandre’s return to the Lions provided an immediate boost for Heath’s side in the midfield. Alexandre, who spent the last three weeks as captain of the Haitian National Team in CONCACAF Gold Cup play, converted Orlando’s first score in the 25th minute. After another corner attempt, Boden found himself free with possession- crossing in to the near post as Alexandre nodded it in for the 1-0 advantage.
The Haiti native wasn’t done scoring in his return to Orlando, with a well-played ball by Midfielder Jamie Watson finding Alexandre for his second of the night. In the 36th minute, Watson fed a charging Alexandre behind the City Islanders’ defense- with the midfielder tucking it in the back of the net for the 2-0 lead.
Orlando kept the scoring up as the match went on, with Forward Dennis Chin netting his fourth goal of the season in the process. Substitute Jonathan Mendoza began the play, with his effort deflecting right to Chin. The speedy striker slotted home the score inside the 18-yard box, giving the Lions a 3-0 lead midway through the second half.
A late goal by Harrisburg’s Lucky Mkosano put the visiting side within striking distance, but the two-goal differential proved to be too much as Orlando came out on top 3-1.
After a tough stretch of matches in the month of July, the Lions will now be able to take time and recuperate with their next game set for August 3rd at Fifth Third Bank Field at the Florida Citrus Bowl against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. The two clubs met on Wednesday night, with the game ending in a 0-0 draw in Pittsburgh, Penn.