ORLANDO, Fla. - Led by a trio of goals coming in the first 30 minutes and a penalty conversion in the second, Orlando City Soccer Club downed the second-place Rochester Rhinos 4-0 at the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla., and extended their lead in the USL PRO table to 10 points over now-second place Charleston. The crowd of 7,260 witnessed the Lions second consecutive 4-0 victory in the 2012 regular season.
“I’ve made no secrets that we want to win the league,” said Head Coach Adrian Heath. “Tonight was another big step forward in that quest. We worked really, really hard tonight and it showed.”
Orlando (13-1-4, 43 points) didn’t waste any time to notch a goal, taking advantage of an early counter-attack to take the lead. Kevin Molino, second in the league in assists, perfectly led a streaking Matt Luzunaris inside the six yard box, with the forward blasting a strike in the lower-left corner to give City the early 1-0 lead. Luzunaris struck the ball so hard it bounced off the back of the net and flew out without another touch.
Only five minutes later, Orlando notched another goal with a strike by Defender Jerome Mechack. The play began with Midfielder Adama Mbengue taken down just outside the 18 yard box, resulting in a free kick for the Lions. The attempt that followed caught the Rhinos (9-5-5, 32 points) defense off guard, with Ian Fuller tapping it over to Mechack, who blasted it straight past Rhino Goalkeeper Kristian Nicht for the second Orlando score.
The Lions continued to capitalize on opportunities, especially ones coming from set pieces. In the 27th minute, Luke Boden found the 6’3” Rob Valentino leaping above the scrum around goal, heading in the feed to give Orlando the 3-0 advantage. The score was Valentino’s first in 15 matches, as the Danville, Calif., native has been recovering from injuries for the last two months.
The fourth and final goal for Orlando was scored by newcomer Rodrigo Lopez from the penalty spot. Jamie Watson was taken down inside the 18, bringing up one of the newest Orlando City players to attempt the penalty. Lopez, who was most recently with the PDL’s Ventura County Fusion, calmly put his try in the back of the net, giving Orlando the 4-0 lead and victory.
Orlando City goes back on the road to square off against newly second-place side Charleston Battery on Thursday, July 19, at 7:30 p.m. The Battery hold a record of 11-6-0 so far in 2012. Orlando and Charleston have met once this season, with the Lions coming out on top 2-1 with goals from Jaime Watson and Jean Alexandre.