Race to the Top as Orlando City and Charleston Battery Battle It Out Tonight

Filed under: Orlando City Soccer,Orlando Sport |

It’s been a big weekend for soccer in Central Florida this weekend as first the US Men’s National Team began their 2014 World Cup Qualifying campaign in Tampa with a 3-1 win over Antigua and Barbuda last night. Next comes the battle at the top of the USL PRO league between our own Orlando City and Charleston Battery at the Citrus Bowl tonight.

Both teams have started the season well and it’s Orlando who top the league two points ahead of tonight’s opponents who have a game in hand. The Battery (7-2-0, 21 points) will put their perfect 4-0-0 road record on the line while Orlando will be looking to improve their 7-1-2 record, 23 points.

The Battery has plenty of momentum coming off last week’s 2-0-0 mark on the road. After a disappointing 3-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls in the U.S. Open Cup, the Battery beat Pittsburgh, 3-1, on May 31 and then defeated Dayton, 1-0, last Saturday. Charleston has actually been a better road team than home team and in four road games, the Battery have scored nine goals and given up just two. In five games at Blackbaud Stadium, the Battery is 3-2-0, scoring seven goals and giving up three.

Orlando City begins a three game home run and they come into the match in a very unfamiliar position, recovering from a loss.  Last week City dropped their first match of the 2012 season, 3-1 to Wilmington Hammerheads and the fixture schedule was something Head Coach Adrian Heath was a little concerned with given the Lions had played six games in twenty two days beforehand:

“When we’re in this cluster of games that we’ve just finished, what with the travel, players don’t get enough time to rest and recover sufficiently.  We’ll be much better for Saturday.”

Helping the Lions rebound will be new loan signing Haitian Jean Alexandre (pictured above) who has been brought in for a two game stint from Major League Soccer’s San Jose Earthquakes.

“What I like about Jean is his physical ability,” said Heath.  “He can play two, three positions.  He’s going to be a really big boost for us.”

It should be a great game tonight as aside from the rivalry, the match pits the two best offenses in USL PRO against each other. Orlando City leads the league with 18 goals scored. Charleston is right behind City with 16 goals and the majority of Charleston’s goals have come from the combination of Jose Cuevas (four) and Nicholas Paterson (five). Only one other player has more than one, Dane Kelly (two). By contrast, City has five players with at least two goals and Dennis Chin leads Orlando with four on the year.

So it promises to be an entertaining and competitive game. A fact not lost on Charleston’s Colin Falvey (pictured above in green) who remarked:  “It’s June, but it feels like a playoff game. It’s the biggest game of the year so far. If you can’t get up for a match like this, you need to get into another profession. They are playing very well, we’re playing well, it should be a great match.”

Hope to see you there… tickets for the 7.30pm kick off are available from the ticket office at the Citrus Bowl or by visiting http://www.orlandocitysoccer.com

Photos from last nights USA v Antigua game are at FloridaLeisurePhotography.com

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