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Following an intense week of training in Melbourne, Fla., Orlando City SC opened its 2016 Major League Soccer (MLS) preseason schedule with a dominant 4-0 victory over Eastern Florida State College on Sunday afternoon at the Titan Soccer Complex.
It was a match that featured two different lineups in each half, marking the Lions’ debut of 2016 MLS SuperDraft picks Richie Laryea and Hadji Barry, goalkeeper Joe Bendik (pictured above) and midfielder Tony Rocha in the first 45, and defender Kevin Alston in the second. City dominated possession and attacking opportunities, showcasing the results of a vigorous week of preparation as it heads toward its second MLS campaign.
With City threatening the Titans’ back line early in the match, Orlando took the lead in the 8th minute following a nice combination between Laryea and Barry. The Canadian midfielder found the former UCF striker behind the defense, and Barry (pictured above) powered a clinical right-footed finish past the goalkeeper to open his scoring account with the Lions.
Maintaining the pressure in the attacking third, Tyler Turner doubled the lead fifteen minutes later with a neat finish off his chest at the far post from a precise cross by Rafael Ramos.
Barry, who looked dangerous throughout the rest of the first half, completed his first brace in purple after finding the back of the net from the six-yard box in the 30th minute, sending the Lions into the break with a comfortable 3-0 lead.
In the second half, an entirely different City lineup maintained control of the match and extended its lead in the 65th minute. An impressive one-two between newcomer Tony Rocha, who had just come onto the field as a substitute for Carlos Rivas (pictured below), who had tweaked a hamstring, and forward Pedro Ribeiro produced the fourth and final goal of the match for the Lions. The imposing Brazilian forward found Rocha with a clever back heel pass, and the youngster netted his first tally with the Lions.
“It’s been the culmination of a great week,” said Head Coach Adrian Heath after the game. “Training has been superb, the facilities have been superb, and the hospitality as well. And now, we got a really good performance (in the game). I thought the lads approached this (match) in the right way. I thought Tony played excellent, I thought Mikey Ambrose was great, I thought Richie and Hadji in the first half were very, very lively. It’s been a good day, and some of the older guys have also done well today.”
The Lions host open training on Tuesday, Feb. 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the Orlando Citrus Bowl. Individual game tickets will go on sale that day, starting at 10 a.m. They will also be available at the Citrus Bowl box office during the open practice session.
Orlando City opens the 2016 MLS season against Real Salt Lake on Sunday, Mar. 6 at the Orlando Citrus Bowl. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. For tickets, visit www.OrlandoCitySC.com or call 855-ORL-CITY.
Orlando City SC – First Half: GK Joe Bendik, D Mikey Ambrose, Seb Hines, Aurélien Collin, Rafael Ramos, M Cristian Higuita, Trialist, Tyler Turner, Richie Laryea, Tony Rocha, F Hadji Barry
Second Half: GK Earl Edwards Jr., D Luke Boden, Tommy Redding, David Mateos, Kevin Alston, M Darwin Cerén, Servando Carrasco, Carlos Rivas (Rocha), Harrison Heath, Adrian Winter, F Pedro Ribeiro
More photos at www.FloridaLeisurePhotography.com