Orlando City Coast To USL PRO Final

Filed under: Orlando City Soccer |

Orlando secured their first appearance in the USL PRO’s championship match by defeating the Richmond Kickers 3-0 in the American Division Championship match at the Florida Citrus Bowl tonight. 8,304 fans packed the Citrus Bowl as they watched their team put in a superb performance that really should have seen them score more than the three goals they did get.

The game began with Richmond looking the stronger team and they played some neat football that had Orlando Head Coach Adrian Heath more than a little worried.  The Kickers were well aware of Orlando’s unbeaten record when scoring first and they pushed hard in the first fifteen minutes for a goal.  Lions keeper Miguel Gallardo was kept busy early on, but the game completely changed in the 20th minute as against the run of play, Orlando’s Luke Boden stunned Richmond with the opening goal. The goal (photos above) itself had a touch of fortune about it as Boden’s 20 yard shot deflected off Richmond defender Luke Vercellone and left Richmond keeper Ronnie Pascale wrong footed.

Orlando then upped the tempo and created several further chances to score before Haitian international Mechack Jerome rocketed in a shot from 30 yards out to put Orlando up 2-0 on the stroke of half time.  The goal was Jerome’s first of the season but it was a goal that stunned Richmond as well as the Lions crowd who hadn’t been used to seeing Orlando shoot from distance for much of the season.

“I got the shot I wanted,” Jerome said. “It was great to finally get a goal.”

Orlando protected their two goal advantage for much of the opening exchanges of the second half but the game was signed, sealed and delivered in the 70th minute.  A sequence of quick passes found Lewis Neal in space about 35 yards from goal.  Neal slipped a low through ball past the Kickers defense to Dennis Chin (pictured above) and Chin jinked past his defender, giving him just enough space to strike and score his second playoff goal and third goal in as many games.

Chin was again in the action just moments from the end of the game as he was the victim of an elbow to the neck from the Kickers Henry Kalungi who earned himself a red card for his actions. It really was an unnecessary moment in the game but it didn’t ruin the night for Orlando’s delirious fans who now have a USL PRO Championship game to look forward to next Saturday.

At the end of the game City Head Coach Adrian Heath reflected on the match and said: “I thought that tonight we played at a level above the league we currently play in. I am really satisfied with tonight’s result. We played composed football, which is something I am very proud of.”

Orlando will face the Harrisburg City Islanders next week in the USL PRO Championship Final. The match will be played at the Citrus Bowl next Saturday, September 3. Kickoff is set for 7 pm.  The match will be broadcast nationally on FOX Soccer Channel.  To secure your seat to the American Championship game, call the ticket office at 855-ORL-CITY (855-675-2489) or email tickets@orlandocitysoccer.com.  Tickets start at just $12.

Scoring Summary

19th Minute – Orlando: Luke Boden

45th Minute+ 1 – Orlando: Mechack Jerome

70th Minute – Orlando: Dennis Chin (Lewis Neal)

Orlando City Line-up

GK: Miguel Gallardo

D: Mechack Jerome, Kieron Bernard (42’ – Ian Fuller), Rob Valentino, Luke Boden

M: Kevin Molino (75’ – Jack Traynor), Yordany Alvarez, Lawrence Olum, Lewis Neal

F: Max Griffin (65’ – Dennis Chin), Jamie Watson (71’ – Erik Ustruck)

Unused Subs

Sean Kelley, Wes Allen, Devorn Jorsling

Richmond Kickers Line-up

GK: Ronnie Pascale

D: William Yomby, Sascha Goerres (74’ – Stanley Nyazamba), Henry Kalungi, Luke Vercellone (74’ – David Hertel)

M: Mike Callahan (61’ – Shaka Bangura), Hiroyama Nyazomi (58’ – Dan Bulow), Jamel Wallace (46’ – Gerson dos Santos), Ryan Heins, Edson Elcock

F: Matt Delicate

Unused Subs

Ryan Jones, Bobby Fogelsong

More photos from the game here.

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