Orlando City SC (16-5-6, 54 points) finished the regular season campaign on the right foot, topping the Charlotte Eagles (10-5-11, 41 points) 1-0 Saturday night at Fifth Third Bank Field at the Florida Citrus Bowl. 10,215 supporters came out to watch as the Lions looked impressive heading into the 2013 USL PRO postseason.
“I think the most important thing is that we won the game tonight,” said Orlando City Head Coach Adrian Heath. “It looks like everyone came through unscathed tonight in the victory (as we head into the playoffs).“
The Lions, who already locked up the second seed heading into the playoffs, showed positive movement and threatening attacks early on- with Forward Dennis Chin nearly converting on a scoring chance in the 27th minute.
The striker skipped past two Charlotte defenders after receiving a ball from Midfielder James O’Connor, rifling an attempt to the corner of the net only for Eagles Goalkeeper Alonso Jimenez to make a diving save.
Orlando continued to hold possession throughout the first half, with near chances by Freddie Braun and Long Tan highlighting the Lions offense as the first 45 came to a close.
The first half momentum carried over to the second, with an Orlando score occurring in the 50th minute. Halftime substitute Jonathan Mendoza played a ball across the face of goal, finding Adama Mbengue on the opposite end of the pass – with the former U23s midfielder’s deflection skipping toward Midfielder Freddie Braun. Braun took a quick look before blasting his attempt home- giving the Lions up 1-0.
Backup Goalkeeper Sean Kelley kept the score sheet clean in the second half, coming in relief for starter Miguel Gallardo. The Kentucky native came up big in the final minutes, making key saves for the shutout and victory.
Orlando now sets their sights on the 2013 postseason, which begin next Saturday at Fifth Third Bank Field at the Florida Citrus Bowl. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. The opponent for the match could not be determined at the time of distribution.
Playoffs are knockout-format, with the No.1 seed facing No.8, No.2 v No. 7, No. 3 v No.6, and No. 4 v No 5. The first four seeds will have home field advantage in the Quarterfinal round. Seeds remain the same after each round.
If the Lions should advance past the first weekend of playoffs, the Semifinals would also be in Orlando- with the date set for Friday, August 30.