Cody Taylor / Valencia Voice
Orlando City didn’t end their USL PRO legacy the way they wanted, as the Lions fell to the Harrisburg City Islanders 1-0 on Saturday in the quarterfinals of the USL PRO playoffs in front of an announced attendance of 4,855 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports.
Orlando went down early when Antione Hoppenot opened up the scoring for Harrisburg in the 39th minute, scoring on a counter attack, giving the Islanders a 1-0 lead going into halftime.
“I thought our first half performance was probably as bad as we’ve had for a long period of time.” said Orlando City manager Adrian Heath after the game. “At the end of the day we didn’t do enough.
“It’s sad the season that we’ve had with all the records that we’ve broken ends with that type of performance. But hey that’s football, that’s the way it goes, that’s the way sport is.”
Orlando City battled in the second half to try and get an equalizer, but were continually stopped by the Islanders defense. The Lions only managed one shot on goal in the second half, while Harrisburg created three of their own in the final 45 minutes.
“We came out flat, the whole first half was kind of back-and-forth and they had the upper edge, and then they get a goal and then it was just tough to come back.” said Tommy Redding following the game. “We worked our butts off the second half and it’s just tough.”
Heath would use all five of his substitutes in the second half to try and swing the momentum, but besides a non-call on a play where Dennis Chin went down in the penalty box, there wasn’t much offense for Orlando.
The Lions continued to attack late in the game, even getting a free-kick during the final minutes of stoppage time, but Orlando City just couldn’t find the back of the net.
“It’s a tough way to end the season, and for a lot of guys it’s a tough way to end the four years,” said Redding after the defeat. “I wish them all the best and I’d like to thank them all for everything they’ve taught me this year. They’re like my brothers I love them so much.”
With the loss the Lions are bounced from the playoffs in the opening round for the second time in three years, but what will be different this time from 2012 is that Orlando will be preparing to enter the MLS next season.
Orlando City will leave the USL PRO with a 6-2 playoff record, while also recording 67 regular season wins, which is a league record.
“I think what we’ve done with the records will stand the test of time,” said Heath. “We’ve broken so many records over the past two or three years.
“Without the wins that we’ve had in the last four years we probably wouldn’t be going to MLS.”
The loss was taken hard by many players, especially considering this is the final time many of these players will play together as most guys on the roster are not guaranteed spots on the MLS club next season.
“It’s rough for all of us,” said Redding about the loss. “It’s a nightmare I would say.”
As of right now Tyler Turner, Tommy Redding, Kevin Molino, Darwin Ceren, Estrela, Rafael Ramos and Kaka are guaranteed spots on the club when they make the jump to MLS.
Orlando has a few players that look to be on the border of making the club’s MLS roster, some of them being Adama Mbengue, Miguel Gallardo and Luke Boden.