by: Orlando City Soccer Club Updated:
In their opening Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic match, Orlando City SC drew Major League Soccer side Philadelphia Union 1-1 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Forward Corey Hertzog scored the lone goal for the Lions, as Orlando remains undefeated (1-0-3) against the Union.
“We still have an awfully long way to go,” said Head Coach Adrian Heath after the 1-1 draw. “That’s our third game in 9 days, after a 5 month lay-off, so we have a lot of work to do but I can never fault the guys for their terrific effort. Conceivably we had a couple of chances to win it at the end.”
In their fourth contest in as many years against the Union, Orlando began the match as the more aggressive side in their opening Pro Soccer Classic game. After pressing the Union high up the pitch, Orlando forced a poor giveaway from Philadelphia and Midfielder Kevin Molino pounced on it.
The attacking midfielder drove the ball towards goal before laying it off for new signing Darwin Ceren, who had his powerful effort blocked by the Union defense. Despite Philadelphia dealing with the ensuing corner kick, Ceren’s early chance provided confidence for the lower-division side.
Moments later, in the 11th minute, City created another close chance when Midfielder Austin Da Luz played a threatening ball in behind for Striker Corey Hertzog, who found himself free inside the area. Hertzog’s effort to pull the ball back across the six-yard-box was deflected out for a corner, but proved to be another encouraging sign for City.
Taking note of the Orlando attacks, the Union began playing a more possessive style of play, which ultimately allowed them to create more chances. One of those opportunities occurred in the 22nd minute, when Midfielder Cristian Maidana gave Philadelphia their first real chance of the match.
Stemming from a corner-kick, the ball fell perfectly for Maidana, just outside the Lions’ area, and the midfielder hit a well struck effort that skipped just inches past the far-post.
New signing Maurice Edu was also in the line-up for Philadelphia and came close to scoring his first goal since coming back to MLS. In the 26th minute, the former Stoke City Potter blasted a dangerous effort from 22 yards. Edu’s strike was honing in on the top-corner, but Goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo made an excellent finger-tip save to push his effort over the cross-bar.
Nevertheless, the consecutive near-chances from the Union seemed to re-energize Orlando. In the 31st minute, left-back Luke Boden floated a well-placed ball over the Union defense for Hertzog. After bringing the ball down with ample space and time, Hertzog calmly lobbed the ball over Union Goalkeeper Zac MacMath to give the hometown side a 1-0 lead heading into the halftime break.
To begin the second half, Heath made two changes to the Orlando back-line, bringing on new signing Carl Wosczcynski for Captain Miguel Gallardo and trial player Jordan Cyrus for fellow trialist RJ Allen.
In the 55th minute, local striker Dennis Chin also entered for goal-scorer Corey Hertzog and provided an immediate spark. Upon entering the game, Chin used his speed to find space down the right-hand side and drove a dangerous ball to the far post for Da Luz.
Da Luz’s effort was deflected back towards Chin inside the box, whose shot was tipped just wide by MacMath.
Moments later, Philadelphia replaced their entire starting line-up with their second unit, providing fresh legs for the visiting side.
Those substitutions made by Head Coach John Hackworth would work in their favor, when reserve player Leo Fernandes equalized the match after a poor clearance from the Orlando defense.
However, City would come close to responding in the 77th minute, when Alvarez found Chin in behind with a piercing through-ball. Chin used his pace to outrun the Union defense and go around Goalkeeper Brian Holt, but managed to hit the post with his final effort.
Despite both sides continuing to probe at each other’s goal, the match would finish with a 1-1 score-line for the third consecutive year. Orlando’s next match will occur on Saturday, February 22, against Toronto FC, who have notable key stars such as U.S. Men’s National Team player Michael Bradley and Brazilian international Julio Cesar.