Orlando City cruises to 3-1 victory over St. Louis in first game at new MLS stadium

Orlando City Soccer Ribbon Cutting at Orlando City Soccer Stadium, Orlando, Orlando, 24th February 2017 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

Orlando City christened their brand new stadium in the Parramore area of Orlando with a 3-1 victory over USL’s St. Louis in a closed season friendly on Saturday.

Goals from Kaká and a brace from Cyle Larin saw the lions race to a 3-0 half time lead before the visitors pulled a goal back just before the end.

Orlando City Soccer3 St. Louis 1, Orlando City Soccer Stadium, Orlando, Orlando, 25th February 2017 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

The first goal came from a 5th minute free kick after the Brazilan international was fouled on the edge of the area. Kaká (pictured above) neatly curled the ball around the wall into the left hand side of the net to give the home team an early advantage.

Orlando City Soccer3 St. Louis 1, Orlando City Soccer Stadium, Orlando, Orlando, 25th February 2017 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

Carlos Rivas should have made it two moments later after wriggling free of the St. Louis defence but with only the goalkeeper to beat he pulled his shot to the near post failing to see the better opportunity to the far side. A few minutes later the Colombian had the ball in the net but he was flagged for offside.

Orlando City Soccer3 St. Louis 1, Orlando City Soccer Stadium, Orlando, Orlando, 25th February 2017 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

The second goal arrived in the 25th minute as Rivas again got behind the defence and crossed for Cyle Larin (pictured above) who applied a neat finish. Ten minutes later the same combination gave Orlando a 3-0 lead with a near identical goal.

Orlando City Soccer3 St. Louis 1, Orlando City Soccer Stadium, Orlando, Orlando, 25th February 2017 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

The final goal of the evening came in the 89th minute when the visitors pulled a goal back. Milan Petosevic (pictured above center)received the ball around 35 yards out and he hit a swirling lofty volley that beat Joe Bendik to his right hand side.

Orlando City Soccer3 St. Louis 1, Orlando City Soccer Stadium, Orlando, Orlando, 25th February 2017 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

Overall, it was a satisfactory for Orlando and after the game Head Coach Jason Kries (pictured above) had praise for the new stadium as he remarked: “We’re really, really pleased with how it’s come out. There is still some work to be done in the next week, but it looks great and it’s very nice to have a place to call home.”

Orlando City Soccer3 St. Louis 1, Orlando City Soccer Stadium, Orlando, Orlando, 25th February 2017 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

City’s leading goal scorer Cyle Larin said “It feels like you actually have your home.  Everyone loves playing here. I know it’s the first game here, but everyone thinks the grass is nice, the stadium is nice.”  The striker added, “The grass is so important and it was very important to get used to it tonight, getting the feel for the width of the field, the length, and knowing where you are. I think we showed today that we fit in well on this field.”

Orlando City Soccer 2 Real Salt Lake 2, Orlando Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Florida - 6th March 2016 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

In a closing piece of business on an exciting day for the team, the club announced it was trading midfielder Brek Shea (pictured above) for Giles Barnes from Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

“We’re thrilled to boost our attack with a player like Giles. His versatility to score and create goals will be a valuable asset this season,” Lions General Manager Niki Budalic said. “I’d like to thank Brek for his exemplary professionalism during his time with our Club.”

The versatile 28-year-old brings with him a wealth of experience and can play forward or anywhere in the attacking midfield. Barnes has 33 goals and 15 assists in 120 starts among 131 regular and postseason appearances since joining Major League Soccer (MLS) in 2012.

Barnes, who was born in London but whose grandparents are Jamaican, has also earned 18 caps for the Jamaican national team, scoring three goals since first joining the Reggae Boyz in 2015. Barnes made three appearances for Jamaica at Copa America Centenario.

Shea was among Orlando City’s first MLS signings in December 2014. After playing mostly left back in 2015, Shea moved up to left midfield in 2016. The 26-year-old scored three goals and six assists in 46 appearances, 39 of them starts, for the Lions. The Texas native also has 34 senior appearances for the U.S. national team.

Orlando begins it’s MLS season next Saturday with a 5pm kick off against New York City FC. The game is sold out but will be broadcast on ESPN.

More photos at www.FloridaLeisurePhotography.com

 

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