Orlando City Wins USL PRO Regular Season Title

Filed under: Orlando City Soccer |

It was a momentous night for Orlando City Lions as they won their first two of hopefully what will become three championships with a 2-1 victory over Charleston Battery at the Orlando Citrus Bowl this evening.  The victory gives Orlando City the USL PRO American Division Championship, the USL PRO Regular Season Championship, and home-field advantage throughout the 2011 ULS PRO Playoffs.

The first half was a defensive struggle between two teams who pride themselves in playing a solid defensive game. With few opportunities in the first half, the teams went into halftime all even although Charleston lead by a slim margin in shot attempts seven to six.

Half-time came at the most opportune time as rain had started to pour down and a weather delay began midway through halftime.  The delay lasted just 20 minutes, plus the 17 minute halftime and the majority of the 5,251 in attendance remained for the second half hoping to see some goals and Orlando clinch the championship.

The rain-soaked field provided the teams with a fast moving pitch, which provided everyone watching an exciting second half. It was a half that will go down in Orlando City’s history as one of the team’s most important halves to date. Orlando City Head Coach Adrian Heath decided to make a switch a halftime and Orlando forward Dennis Chin came on for Max Griffin at the beginning of the second half to provide Orlando’s offense a spark. Chin did just that.

“I brought in Chinny to provide a spark, something that he tends to do every time we throw him in there,” said Heath following the match. “It was the right decision.”

Ten minutes into the second half, Chin charged down the right hand side of the field with two Charleston defenders running alongside him and inside the penalty area. He was then man handled to the floor and the referee had an easy decision in giving the penalty kick. Up stepped a cool Jamie Watson and as the keeper went one way the ball rolled into the bottom right corner to give the Lions a 1-0 lead.

Watson then proceeded to earn himself a yellow card as in his excitement he hurled himself up the stairs to the bleachers and jumped into the crowd to celebrate with the Iron Lion Firm, one of Orlando City’s amazing supporters groups.

“A moment like that is something I will always look back on,” said Watson. “It was great to celebrate with all of the fans. They deserve this win too.”

A few minutes later, Mechack Jerome found a neat cross to an unmarked Yordany Alvarez, who firmly headed the ball past Andrew Dykstra ito make it  Orlando 2-0 after 72 minutes.  To many, that was game set match and the title wrapped up but Charleston lived up to their name Battery as they refused to give up.  A sneaky back-heel pass from Battery forward and Rollins College alum Jon Gruenewald left Gallardo far outside of the goal, leaving Charleston forward Dane Kelley with an easy tap in into the open net. 2-1 and 8 minutes to go.

The game then descended into a fiery encounter as tackles flew and tempers raised. A minute into stoppage time, Battery defender John Wilson took down Dennis Chin, which brought both teams to the corner of the field where a handbags at two paces shoving match began. Wilson, who’d had a short fuse all evening,  grabbed an Orlando City player by the throat and earned himself an instant red.

This was to be the final incident of an eventful second half and the celebration began. The team were presented the USL PRO Title Cup in the center circle by club President Phil Rawlins and the team then enjoyed more celebrations as they ran around the field with the trophy, sharing the moment with all of the delighted City fans.

“We’ve been waiting for this for a good while. Coach [Heath] has done a brilliant job in coaching our players and has done a fantastic job with them,” said President and Owner Phil Rawlins.  “They have been the best team all year, playing the best football. Now it’s time to win a championship.”

Orlando City closes out the regular season at home on Friday against the Harrisburg City Islanders.  Tickets are still available, and start at just $12.  Call 855-ORL-CITY (855-675-2489) for more information or to order tickets.

Following Friday’s match, the Lions begin the 2011 USL PRO Playoffs.  Their first opponent has not been determined, but the match will take place at the Citrus Bowl on August 20th at 7:30 pm.

Scoring Summary

65th Minute – Orlando: Jamie Watson (penalty kick)

72nd Minute – Orlando: Yordany Alvarez (Mechack Jerome)

84th Minute – Charleston: Dane Kelley (Jon Gruenewald)

Orlando City Line-up

GK: Miguel Gallardo

D: Mechack Jerome, Kieron Bernard, Rob Valentino, Jack Traynor

M: Kevin Molino (77’ – Charlie Campbell), Yordany Alvarez, Luke Boden, Lewis Neal

F: Max Griffin (46’ – Dennis Chin), Jamie Watson (77’ – Ian Fuller)

More Photos Here :

Game Photos v Charleston Battery

Celebration of Title Win Photos

Make sure you click “LIKE” and then “Photos” to see the Albums.

And here’s some video from the victory celebrations:

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