Orlando City finishes 3rd in Pro Soccer Classic

by: Orlando City Soccer Club Updated:

ORLANDO, Fla. —

In the Walt Disney Pro Soccer Classic third place match, Orlando City SC drew the New York Red Bulls 4-4 on Saturday, March 1, at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. With Orlando and New York electing to forgo a decision by penalty kicks, both sides will finish the Pro Soccer Classic in third place.

“Despite allowing two or three poor goals, there were a lot of pleasing moments for us, especially going forward,” said Head Coach Adrian Heath after the match. “As their coaches just said, we’re difficult to contain with the way we move the ball.”

After controlling possession early in the match, a miscommunication in the New York defense would provide a golden opportunity for new signing Corey Hertzog. Going against the club who drafted him in 2011, Hertzog was in pursuit of a long-floated ball from Darwin Ceren.

Ceren’s ball seemed to be an easy clearance for the Red Bulls defense, but Defender Kosuke Kimura accidentally headed it past Goalkeeper Luis Robles who was on his way to clear the danger away. Hertzog was lurking in the area and slotted it home to give Orlando a 1-0 lead.

In light of Hertzog’s early goal, Orlando would get into their rhythm, and Molino and Hertzog would create a few opportunities that kept Robles honest.

On the other end, the 2013 Supporter Shield winners weren’t shy of going forward either and showed why they were one of the best sides in MLS last year. In response to a cracking effort from Molino that hit the cross-bar, New York progressed their way down the pitch and equalized the match in the 28th minute.

After receiving the ball on the right-hand-side, Midfielder Lloyd Sam whipped in a driven cross to the near-post and Bradley Wright-Phillips was there to place it past Gallardo.

The equalizer from New York was arguably a fair reflection of the first-half, as neither side was ever in full-control of the game. Nevertheless, despite not having as much time on the ball in comparison to the matches in the group-stages, Orlando still looked dangerous in spurts.

Midfielder Darwin Ceren has quickly become a fan-favorite for his contributions on the pitch, and was a key facilitator in City’s attacking plays. As a result, Orlando would create the best chance of the match, in the 43rd minute, after several probing efforts.

After good build-up play on the left-hand side, City worked the ball across the edge of the area to Yordany Alvarez who hit a powerful volley that forced Robles to push it over the bar and into the supporters section.

The play leading up to Alvarez’s effort was almost an identical replication of Darwin Ceren’s first goal for the Lions against Columbus Crew.

To begin the second half, Heath brought on Dennis Chin for Hertzog as his only change during the intermission.

Within two minutes of entering the game, the Chin would score his second goal of the preseason. After Molino earned a corner, Alvarez whipped the ball to the near-post for Chin who nodded it past Robles Robles.

However, Orlando had very little time to celebrate as Wright-Phillips tapped home his second goal of the game in the 50th minute. Wright-Phillips, the brother of former England-international Sean Wright-Phillips, used his pace to get in behind the Orlando defense on several occasions but Gallardo maintained his excellent form with notable key saves.

But in the 68th minute, New York would get the better of the Mexican goalkeeper when Ibrahim Sekagaya scored a tap in. Gallardo made a quality save on the initial free-kick from Orlando-native Dax McCarty, but Sekagya was there to tuck it away after City failed to clear it away.

In the ensuing moments after Sekagya’s goal, Orlando would not lose their fighting spirit and Adama Mbengue, who came on as a substitute in the 57th minute, provided an equalizer in 76th minute.

Stemming from another Yordany Alvarez corner-kick, Mbengue blasted a screamer from the edge of the area that flew into the top-corner. 

Nevertheless, Midfielder Jonny Steele would respond with the Red Bull’s fourth goal of the match, only two minutes later.

Steele’s goal marks the second consecutive game in which Orlando has allowed four goals. However, similar to the Columbus match, City would respond and level the game at four goals apiece.

Orlando’s goal occurred after beautiful build-up play in the midfield that allowed Mbengue to release Molino in behind. The Trinidadian quickly latched on to the ball and dinked it by Robles.

“We played a pretty good New York side tonight and I think we made a good account for ourselves by finishing the tournament unbeaten,” added Heath.

With neither side being able to break the dead-lock in regulation, the match would finish as a 4-4 draw. After the final whistle, both clubs opted to forgo the routine penalty-kicks and conclude the Pro Soccer Classic with a tie for third place.

Orlando City’s next preseason match will take place on March 8 against Florida International University (FIU). Kick-off is set for 3 p.m., and the match will occur at Seminole Soccer Complex.