Orlando City overcome Rowdies 3-2 in inaugural I-4 Derby match

ORLANDO – Jean Alexandre scored a goal on four shots to help Orlando City Soccer Club defeat the Tampa Bay Rowdies 3-2 in the first leg of the inaugural I-4 Derby on Saturday, March 9 in front of 6,877 fans at Fifth Third Bank Field at the Florida Citrus Bowl.

“If I’m being honest I’m disappointed it ended up 3-2,” said Orlando City manager Adrian Heath after the game. “Because the game  I thought could have been out of sight tonight.”

Jamie Watson started the game with three shots for Orlando City, but the Rowdies got on the scoreboard first when Amani Walker got a breakaway goal in the 17th minute of the game.

Orlando City went into the locker room at halftime trailing Tampa Bay 1-0, despite outshooting the Rowdies 12-2 during the first 45 minutes.

“If you look at the half as a whole,” said Heath about the first half. “We were probably the dominant team.”

Watson tied the game at 1-1 for Orlando City, when he scored off of a corner from Freddie Braun in the 49th minute.

“We needed a break and we got it from the corner,” added Heath. “We ended up getting what you class as a scrappy goal from the corner.”

James O’Connor then scored in the 58th minute to give City a 2-1 lead over the Rowdies, after the initial shot by Long Tan was blocked by a Tampa Bay defender.

Tampa Bay had a chance to tie the game in the 68th minute, but Orlando City defender Bryan Burke saved what would have been Amani Walker’s second goal of the game.

“That’s what Burkey’s job is,” said Heath about the save by his defender. “When he’s not involved in it, he has to get around and cover and he bailed us out there.”

Alexandre scored in the 70th minute, just moments after the save by Burke, giving Orlando City a 3-1 lead late in the game.

“Jean’s a good player,” said Orlando City midfielder James O’ Connor. “I think Jean can play in a number of positions and he’s a good football brain.”

The Rowdies cut Orlando City’s lead to 3-2 when Luke Muholland scored on a free kick for the Rowdies in the 75th minute.

After four minutes of added time Orlando City secured its victory in the first leg of the inaugural I-4 Derby.

Orlando outshot Tampa Bay 22-7 for the game, while also collecting 10 corners compared to Tampa’s one. With the win City improves to 2-0 against the Rowdies in 2013.

“I thought we were the better football team all evening,” said Heath. “We grew into the game as the game came on.”

Orlando City and Tampa Bay face-off again on Saturday, March 30 at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, Fla.  for the second leg of the new rivalry.