by: Orlando City SC Updated:WILMINGTON, N.C. —
Orlando City SC (10-2-3, 33 points) played to a 2-2 draw against the Wilmington Hammerheads (5-8-3, 18 points) at Legion Stadium in Wilmington, N.C., Wednesday night. The Lions came back from an early deficit, scoring two goals in the second half to earn a point in the first of two consecutive road matches.
Wilmington got on the board first, with an early Daniel Steres conversion putting the Hammerheads up 1-0. After a foul outside the 18-yard box, Forward Kyle Greig swung in a curling free kick- finding the head of Steres. The Midfielder whipped in the pass, pushing it by Goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo and into the net for the lead.
After the early goal, Orlando settled down and found their form- controlling possession while taking more chances as the half went on. One of those chances included Midfielder Adama Mbengue’s blast after a free kick just outside the 18’, with the attempt skimming off of a diving Troy Hernandez’s palms and out of danger.
Mbengue also had a heading attempt after a corner immediately following the deflection, but the Wilmington defense controlled the header to keep the score line 1-0 heading into halftime.
The pressure continued for the Lions at the beginning of the second half, with it paying off in the 66th minute. Jamie Watson, who was playing at the forward spot, picked up a loose ball inside the box- chipping it up and over Hernandez for the equalizer. The goal marked Watson’s eighth score of the year, good for fourth in the league.
Orlando kept the scoring up, with Wilmington making an error for the Lions’ second of the night. Coming off of a counter-attack, Orlando sent in a cross only to find Defender Gareth Evans’ back heel. The deflection went into the net for the 2-1 Orlando advantage.
Wilmington responded just minutes later, with a penalty awarded to the Hammerheads after Gallardo came out of his box - clipping Steven Perry’s ankles inside the 18. Steres, who scored Wilmington’s first goal, converted in the lower right-hand corner to tie the game at 2-2 heading into the final 10 minutes of play.
The last minutes of the match proved to be a back-and-forth affair between the two clubs, with opportunities by both sides knocked out of danger. Despite a few final chances, the final whistle blew- ending the game in the 2-2 scoreline.
The Lions continue play on the road in an important USL PRO matchup against the Charleston Battery on Friday, July 5. The Battery currently sit fourth in the league table with a record of 7-3-5 and 26 points. Charleston is led by Forward Dane Kelly, who has four goals on the year in 780 minutes played. The match will be live streamed on USLNation.com, with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m.