Orlando City manages scoreless draw in entertaining game against Brazilian giants Sao Paulo

Filed under: Orlando City Soccer |

Orlando City Soccer vs. Sao Paulo - Brazil, 20 June 2014 (Photographer: Nigel Worrall)

Brazilian super-club Sao Paulo F.C. were held to a scoreless draw by Orlando City Soccer on Friday night at ESPN Wide World of Sports.

“I was incredibly proud of the guys’ effort tonight,” said Head Coach Adrian Heath after the 0-0 draw. “Obviously we rode our luck at times and Miguel made a few good, but we had three or four good efforts ourselves, so overall I’m delighted with the result.”

Hosting its second high profile international friendly in as many months, Orlando City’s match against Sao Paulo proved to be another measuring stick for the Lions, as they aimed to display their ability to compete against premier players in world football.

Sao Paulo started the game with a quickness of thought and high tempo that the Lion’s have rarely seen at their home ground but after a fifteen minutes adjustment time, Orlando matched their illustrious opponents stride for stride, kick for kick. It demonstrated the side’s ability to play at a high level as they prevented the three time FIFA Club World Cup Winners from finding the back of the net.

The task of keeping a clean sheet was far from easy though, as Orlando were forced to sustain multiple threatening attacks from the Brazilian side in the opening portion of the first half. Sao Paulo’s chances were created via counter attacks though prominent attacking players such as Luis Fabiano and Paulo Henrique Ganso.

Orlando City Soccer vs. Sao Paulo - Brazil, 20 June 2014 (Photographer: Nigel Worrall)

The first chance came with three minutes gone as Fabiano (pictured above) used his strength to create space, before firing an effort  just wide of the right hand post. Unfortunately, the former Brazilian international and Sevilla striker had to be brought off in 18th minute after picking up a thigh strain.

Orlando City Soccer vs. Sao Paulo - Brazil, 20 June 2014 (Photographer: Nigel Worrall)

Orlando City responded with vigor as midfielder Adama Mbengue produced a strong strike from just outside the box that forced veteran Goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni to make a difficult save. Mbengue, along with Molino and the City attacking players, constantly posed a threat to Sao Paulo but the Brazilians always looked the most likely to find the net first. They again went close when Alan Kardec (pictured above) failed to convert a cross from Osvaldo midway through the first half.

Towards the end of the half, Corey Hertzog nearly put the Lions ahead, but the striker took a little longer than was needed, and this allowed the Brazilian defence time to close him down as he tried to pull the trigger.

Orlando City Soccer vs. Sao Paulo - Brazil, 20 June 2014 (Photographer: Nigel Worrall)

The final chance of the half fell to Sao Paulo and only a well-timed sliding challenge from Aodhan Quinn (pictured above) prevented a Maicon effort from finding the net.

Miguel Gallardo - Orlando City Soccer vs. Sao Paulo - Brazil, 20 June 2014 (Photographer: Nigel Worrall)

The second half saw a repeat of the first as Sao Paulo went for goal.  A close-range miss by former AC Milan Striker Alexandre Pato, and a curling left-footed effort from Ganso (pictured above) that rattled off the cross-bar gave the Lions plenty of warning that their opponents meant business.

Gallardo and the Orlando defence weathered the storm and Orlando slowly began to control the possession. Questions were being asked of the Brazilian defence as the Lions began combining well in promising areas of the pitch and a sense of confidence began to run through the home side.

In the 64th minute, after lovely combination play in the middle of the park, midfielder Brian Span managed to create additional space for himself and he blasted the ball at the target, forcing Ceni to nervously parry it away. Dennis Chin, who was brought on at half-time, ran on to the follow up but the SPFC defense did well to clear it away for a corner.

Six minutes later, Kevin Molino played a nifty one-two in the box but as he attempted to pull it back across the six yard box, Rodrigo Caio intercepted the Trinidadian’s pass to Chin and cleared it wide for another corner.

Orlando City Soccer vs. Sao Paulo - Brazil, 20 June 2014 (Photographer: Nigel Worrall)Orlando City Soccer vs. Sao Paulo - Brazil, 20 June 2014 (Photographer: Nigel Worrall)

With a league match against the Dayton Dutch Lions set for Sunday afternoon, Head Coach Adrian Heath brought off several key players throughout the remaining 15 minutes. SPFC had one final attempt to try and steal a victory in the 89th minute from Alexandre Pato in the six-yard-box, but another great save from Gallardo would keep the clean-sheet in-tact.

The draw moves Orlando’s all-time international friendly record 1-6-1 in three years, with City’s only victory coming in the form of a 1-0 victory over Newcastle United in 2011.

OCSC’s next match will take place in USL PRO league play at 3 p.m. on Sunday afternoon against the Dayton Dutch Lions.

More photos at www.FloridaLeisurePhotography.com

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