by: Orlando City Soccer Club Updated:
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - A first-half penalty conversion by Midfielder Jamie Watson and second half strike by Forward Dennis Chin was all Orlando needed Saturday night, with the Lions topping cross-state Tampa Bay Rowdies 2-0 in the conclusion of the 2013 Disney Pro Soccer Classic. In a prelude to the inaugural “I4 Derby” held on March 9 and 30, Orlando got the best of the NASL’s Tampa, finishing 7th overall in the tournament.
Despite the 2-0 win, Orlando City Head Coach Adrian Heath still sees room for improvement moving forward for his club.
“The two-nil win is always nice because it pleases our supporters, but it was not an enjoyable 90 minutes to watch,” said Heath. “I don’t say that very often.”
Orlando got off to a quick start, with no more than 20 seconds into the match a through ball by Dennis Chin found a streaking Jamie Watson on the left side of the pitch. Chasing down the pass, Watson was tripped inside the box- giving the Lions a penalty kick. The midfielder confidently took the penalty shot, beating Tampa Goalkeeper Andrew Fontein in the lower left-hand corner to give Orlando the early 1-0 lead.
The Lions kept up the pressure on the NASL side, with key attacks from Forward Dennis Chin and Midfielders Adama Mbengue and Jamie Watson keeping Tampa on their heels. City nearly got another score before the halftime whistle blew, with Forward Long Tan’s header going off the cross bar and cleared by the Rowdies backline in the 45th minute of play.
Orlando’s defense, led by Goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo, continued its top play in the 2013 preseason. The team-captain Gallardo made key saves in the 48th and 57th minutes, keeping the score sheet clean for the Lions. Another key play came in the 72nd minute, when a free kick just 18’ yard box by Tampa was punched up and over the post by the Torreon, Mexico, native.
The Lions consistent attacking paid off later on in the second half, with Oviedo native and 2012 USL PRO leading scorer Dennis Chin converting the second goal. The forward raced by the Rowdies defense in the 76th minute, beating Fontein in a one-on-one in the lower right corner to give City the 2-0 lead. City continued to push, nearly converting on more chances before the final whistle blew-with the final tally 2-0 in favour of Orlando.
The two teams meet again for the first leg of the inaugural “I4 Derby” on Saturday, March 9, at the Florida Citrus Bowl with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m. The second leg will be held on Saturday, March 30, at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, Fla.