Orlando City comes up big, on and off the field

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Photo Credit: Ty Wright

Defender Brian Fekete #24 of Orlando City SC runs upfield against the Seattle Sounders Reserves, Sunday night in the team's seventh shutout of the season.

In continuous support to help bring Major League Soccer (MLS) to Orlando, 10,697 screaming supporters came out to the Fifth Third Bank Field at the Citrus Bowl to show their purple pride Sunday night, as Orlando City SC defeated the Seattle Sounders Reserves 2-0 in front of the largest announced crowd in Orlando City’s regular season history.

 Orlando City (15-3-6, 51 points) moved one step closer to obtaining the team’s third consecutive USL Pro Regular Season title as they clinched potential home field advantage throughout the semi-finals in the postseason if the team was to advance.  The Lions went up early on the scoreboard and did not look back as they tied the Richmond Kickers in points at the top of the USL Pro leader board following the win.

“It was probably one of the most pleasing performances of the season,” stated Orlando City’s head coach Adrian Heath at the conclusion of the game. “As a unit, from the front to the back, we defended well. We attacked well, we moved the ball well and we looked dangerous all evening.”

The Lions head out to City Stadium in Richmond, Va. on Wednesday to face the Kickers (14-1-9, 51 points) who defeated them 2-0 in the clubs only matchup earlier in the season.  This matchup could potentially determine who takes home the Regular Season title as City looks to even the head-to-head matchup record.

“We knew a few weeks ago it might come down to this game and it looks like it its.  It’s the next game; we could win in Richmond and then lose to Charlotte and then its all back to where you were. Lets take the next game as it comes, we know its goings to be difficult but I’m always confident in this group of players.”

Kevin Molino, who was given a rest in Wednesday’s win over VSI Tampa FC, wasted no time getting into the groove of things. The former USL Pro MVP was able to move the ball behind the Sounders defense before blasting a shot past Seattle’s goalkeeper, Andrew Weber, giving the lions a 1-0 lead.

Molino’s goal came just 36-seconds into match, following defender Anthony Pulis sliding tackle at midfield, forcing a change of possession which allowed Orlando City to get the ball deep into the Sounders’ territory where the Lions netted their fastest goal in franchise history.

Defender, Rob Valentino, got it done on both sides of the field– playing a full 90-minutes making key stops and scoring his fifth goal of the season- set up by a Freddie Braun corner kick in the 30th minute of play, giving the Lions their second and final goal of the game.

“They’ve [defenseman] been scoring goals for us all year, unfortunately we haven’t been doing the best job keeping them out; so to get zero on the score sheet tonight- that’s a great feeling heading into a big game on Wednesday. As long as we can do that, teams are not going to be able to beat us,” stated Valentino.

The Sounders looked to regroup in the second half but could not get anything solid going, as Orlando City’s goalkeeper, Miguel Gallarado, got down and dirty making key saves giving him his fifth clean sheet of the season.

Orlando City also made strides off the field– the club made a huge step closer to team’s president Phil Rawlins dream of becoming a MLS team following the Orange County’s Tourist Development Council (TDC) unanimously approving a $20 million financial plan to fund a multi-purpose stadium downtown, that would serve as new home arena for the team.

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Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs announced the agreement at the conclusion of the TDC meeting on Friday.  Both mayors added they would suggest the entire Board of County Commissioners to approve of the plan in a vote that could come as early as the end of the month.

Assuming everything goes as planned from here on out, Rawlins believes the team could begin MLS play in 2015, playing the first half of their home matches in the soon to be renovated Citrus Bowl before moving to the new intimate stadium that is set to house 18,000-to-25,000 fans.

Brazilian businessman, Flavio Augusto da Silva, who recently became a partial owner of the club has already promised to sign Kaka, who the franchise has referred to as the “Brazilian Beckham if they could join the league by 2015 when his contract with Spanish La Liga club Real Madrid expires.