Fairytale Ending as Orlando City Win USL PRO Championship

Filed under: Orlando City Soccer |

Oh wow…what an evening. I’ll post some video later (hopefully) but for those of you who couldn’t be there, this was an evening of high drama and really showed why football (I refuse to call it soccer) is the number one sport in the world. In a cauldron of noise with just over 11,200 spectators present, the two teams, Orlando City and Harrisburg City served up an encounter that is likely to be remembered for many many years… certainly by Orlando City fans.

The game two-ed and fro-ed in the first half with both sides having chances to take the lead but it didn’t get really juicy until the 47th minute when Orlando goalkeeper Gallardo was sent off leaving the Lions with an uphill battle with just 10 men. An error in the Lions defence left Harrisburg forward Sainey Torray one on one with the Orlando keeper and when Gallardo took him down his fate was sealed.

The game continued to go from one end of the pitch to the other with no real cutting edge from either team until two minutes from full time when Orlando scored. It was a simple move that saw a delicate Lewis Neal through ball to the oncoming Lawrence Olum who blasted the ball past Chase Harrison in the Harrisburg goal. (Photos above.)  This sent the crowd into wild hysteria and coming so close to the end most fans expected Orlando to be victorious.

Not so, 5 mins of injury time was played and with literally 20 seconds left on the clock, Harrisburg conjured up an equalizer. Throwing caution to the wind, Harrison went up for a series of three corners and he caused enough commotion that forward J.T. Noone was left free to slot home a dramatic late equalizer.  Extra time it was.

4 mins into the first period of extra time and things went from bad to worse for Orlando. Their defence had seemingly learned nothing from the last second equaliser and they left Harrisburg’s Touray open from another corner and he nodded the ball home past a despairing Sean Kelly in the home teams goal. 2-1 Harrisburg.

Orlando it seemed, despite being easily the best team in the league this season, looked beaten. Adrian Heath, Head Coach of Orlando, was having none of it however, and he rallied his troops at half time of extra time. Orlando came out the blocks and had what looked like a stone wall penalty turned down as Devorn Jorsling fell from a push in the penalty box. The home crowd couldn’t believe it as the referee turned down the appeal but more drama was to come 90 seconds later as Dennis Chin was then brought down by outstanding Harrisburg defender Jeritt Thayer, who promptly earned himself a red card. All the pressure was now on Lewis Neal (below) and he delivered a calm and collected finish from the penalty spot to make it 2-2.

So then came penalties and Orlando took a 2-0 lead through Neal and the leagues Most Valuable Player Jordany Alvarez before misses by Charlie Cambell and Luke Boden made it 2-2 after 4 penalties each. So it came down to what was effectively sudden death. Up stepped Sainey Tourey with the 5th shot for Harrisburg and he drilled his low shot wide of the left hand post giving Orlando the chance to seal an epic evening.  All eyes were on Devorn Jorsling (below) as he stepped up and his cool finish to the left corner gave Orlando the fairytale ending they wanted to take the USL PRO Championship. Unbelievable stuff and in the land of make believe, fabulous roller coaster and epic theme park rides you couldn’t have written a better script for the game. It really did have it all.

“You could not have had a better game,” said Orlando City owner Phil Rawlins. “The record number of fans who came out tonight saw one for the history books. This is huge for Orlando, even bigger for Orlando City. This is one that we will never forget.”

More pictures here.

Update: And here’s the video…

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