Hometown star Dennis Chin shines bright for Lions


Ty Wright / Valencia Voice

Forward Dennis Chin signs autographs following Orlando City 7-4 win in the USL Pro Championship.

ORLANDO — As Orlando City SC push to become a MLS team in 2015, even Orlando natives still find the idea to be surreal.

“Being young and around here, I didn’t think it was possible to have a professional team here,” stated Orlando City forward Dennis Chin, who has played his entire soccer career in central Florida. “Now that I’ve grown up and is apart of it, it’s truly mind blowing to see fans come out with such force. It’s truly great.”

Originally from the island of Jamaica, Chin moved to Florida at the age of 11 alongside his family, where he attended Oviedo high school – earning All-State honors twice, netting a scholarship to play soccer at Rollins College.

After spending time in USL Premier tral Florida Kraze, Chin joined the Lions in 2011 helping the team to a regular-season title as well as a USL Pro Championship.

“Every thing was totally up and down in that 2011 game,” Chin states as he flashes back to the championship game during his rookie season – in which Orlando City won during penalty shoot-out. “I thought that was just the peak, but in 2013 we score seven goals in front of 20,000 fans — that would beat it any day.”

Going into halftime of the 2013 USL Pro Championship tied up 2-2, many wondered who would step up and provide an extra spark for the Lions, that was not Dom Dwyer.

With the pressure of not letting the long hours the front office put in to attract 20,866 fans to Saturday’s game – 15,000 of them which Chin jokes were his personal friends – the 26-year old striker knew he had to up his play if Orlando City wanted to win their trophy back.

“A few weeks ago I said we needed some players to come alive in the playoffs if we had any chances of winning it all, and Chinny came alive,” stated Lions head coach Adrian Heath following the teams 7-4 win, on Saturday night. He got his rewards. I’m a big believer of you get what you put in.

“His work rate was good tonight and he got his goals. That’s a great reward for him.”

After a strong run in 2012 – notching a league record 11 goals – Chin’s statistic impact with the team declined this past season, scoring five-goals in 23 appearances, starting in 13.

Much like the teams performance; his play was up and down the entire season — not knowing what to expect each night out — not capitalizing on plays he was use to making.

“I just wanted to make sure everything I learned throughout out the year and all the chemistry the team built did not go to waste,” said Chin. I just wanted to contribute and did not want to let anyone down.

“I knew sooner or later I had to hit my form, especially with the coaching staff and team players I had supporting me — I knew the chances would come and I would actually finish them this time. Good thing it was the playoffs and I didn’t run out of gas mid-season.”

Finishing the championship game with two-goals and one-assist, he describes his goal in the 70th-minute of play as “spectacular”, knowing that his late goal extended the Lions lead.

As Orlando City await an approval vote from the commissioners office regarding a new stadium, which could potentially land the club a spot in the MLS – Chinny is keeping his fingers crossed, hoping that his hardwork and dedication grant him a spot on that roster.

With the support of his father, Kirk, who works throughout the community in part of the Orlando City Foundation – his brother Jhamie who works in the marketing department , and all his other friends and family which he grew up with – Orlando City has become a home-within-a-home for him.

“I have two other brothers besides Jhamie who play for the youth academy, so don’t look away yet. I also have a father who work for the foundation, we are taking over a little bit at a time.”

(Originally on pg. 8 in Sept. 11 issue)