ORLANDO, Fla. - Led by two goals in the first 25 minutes and two more from Forward Dennis Chin late, Orlando City Soccer Club clinched their second consecutive USL PRO regular season title by defeating the Charleston Battery 4-0 at the Florida Citrus Bowl. The title also guarantees home field for the 2012 playoffs.
“I’m pleased for the players for all the hard work they put in,” said Orlando City Head Coach Adrian Heath. “I thought some of our play was very, very good.”
Kevin Molino got the scoring going for Orlando City (15-1-5, 50 points) with the help from the Charleston (11-7-0, 33 points) defense. In the 17th minute from outside the 18 yard box, the winger blasted a strike that found the side of a Battery Defender Kyle Hoffer, with the ball bouncing up and over Charleston Goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra for an own goal and the early 1-0 Lion lead.
It only took a few more minutes for Lions to strike again. In the 21st minute, a charging George Davis IV laid a beautiful cross off to an unmarked Luzunaris, who was just inside the six yard box. The Margate, Fla., native found the cross with a strong header, finishing the strike past Dykstra to give the Lions a 2-0 advantage. The goal marked the fifth straight match Luzunaris scored in and his ninth of the season.
Orlando maintained the offensive pressure in the first half, continually badgering the Battery back line despite the two-goal lead. A key example in the first 45 was when Davis, who assisted Orlando’s second goal, missed inches to the right on a left-to-right low roller in the 37th. The Lions went into the locker room with the same advantage of 2-0.
Charleston, who came into the match in third place in the USL PRO table couldn’t keep up with Orlando despite time to regroup at the half. The Lions back line also produced a solid defensive effort in route to their second USL PRO regular season title, lead by Captain and Goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo. Gallardo, who recorded his eighth shutout of the 2012 season, made key saves throughout the match to keep the Battery completely off the scoresheet.
The frustrations turned to a boiling point for the Battery halfway through the second half, when Defender Colin Falvey got into an argument after a ball was cleared with Orlando’s James O’Connor, sending both squads to the middle of the field with tempers flaring. Both players were handed red cards, ejecting them from the match. Charleston Defender Kyle Hoffer earned his second yellow of the night after continual dissent towards the assistant referee minutes later, qualifying for a red card and leaving the Battery with only nine men.
Capitalizing on the nine-man Charleston side, late substitute and Oviedo-native Dennis Chin scored twice in the 77th and 85th minutes, ending the match with the final score of 4-0. The two scores mean Chin now holds the single season record in goals scored in Orlando City franchise history with 10, topping last year’s record of nine by Max Griffin.
City now turn their attention toward the International Friendly to be played at the Florida Citrus Bowl tomorrow, July 28. Stoke City of the English Premier League clashes with the Lions for the first time in franchise history, with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m.