Orlando City SC (12-3-6, 42 points) fell to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds (9-6-7, 34 points) 1-0 Saturday night at Fifth Third Bank Field at the Florida Citrus Bowl. A 52nd minute score by Riverhounds Midfielder Ryan Kinne was the lone score of the night, propelling Pittsburgh to the win.
“I thought it (the performance) was pretty poor most of the game,” said Orlando City Head Coach Adrian Heath. “Thought C.J. (Sapong) gave us a lift when he came on, but apart from that there wasn’t much going on in the attacking third to cause them any problems.”
The Lions held possession early on, with Pittsburgh playing behind the ball to disrupt the fluid movement that Heath preaches to his club. Despite the Riverhounds’ defensive strategy in the opening minutes, Orlando kept pressing- with attempts by Midfielder Kevin Molino and Forward Jean Alexandre nearly opening up the score line.
Attacks and pressure continued through rest of the first half, with the Lions continuing to stay on the offensive. Combination plays from Molino to City forwards and midfielders allowed Orlando to open up the Pittsburgh defense, but the Riverhounds held tight- not allowing a goal in the first half.
Steffan Lundberg of the Riverhounds kept Orlando on their heels late in the opening 45, with a breakaway by the midfielder nearly resulting in a goal- only for his attempt to roll just wide of the right post and out of danger.
The Riverhounds’ attack persisted at the start of the second half, with a ball played in by Stefan Lundberg finding teammate Ryan Kinne- who headed it past Goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo for the 1-0 advantage.
Heath immediately substituted in Sporting KC loanee C.J. Sapong and Forward Long Tan to bring an offensive spark to the Lions after the goal, with a consistent push forward in the later parts of the second half proving to be unsuccessful as Pittsburgh held their defensive line.
The lone bright spot of the night came outside the Orlando area, with first-place Richmond Kickers falling to the Charleston Battery 5-2. The Lions have two games in-hand on the Kickers, six points behind the top spot. The two clubs meet in a crucial game in Richmond on Wednesday, August 14.
Orlando continues their hunt for first place in the USL PRO table tomorrow, traveling down I-4 to face expansion side VSI Tampa Bay FC. Tampa currently sits ninth in the league, one spot out of the playoffs. Sunday’s match will be the first meeting between the two clubs, with an earlier match in the season rescheduled due to severe weather.
The match will be played at Plant City Stadium, with kickoff set for 7 p.m. EST. The two clubs then square off just three days later in Orlando, with the rescheduled match on Wednesday, August 7.