Orlando City stay in playoff race with 3-1 victory over Sporting KC

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Bryce Brimhall Valencia Voice

Adrian Winter (left) scored two goals while Bryan Rochez scored another in Orlando City’s 3-1 win over Sporting KC.

ORLANDO — Despite missing two of the club’s best midfielders Orlando City found a way to pull out a 3-1 win over Sporting KC at the Citrus Bowl on Sunday to keep themselves in the playoff race.

Orlando City were playing without Kaka and Darwin Ceren for the game due to both sustaining injuries during international duty this past week but that didn’t stop the Lions from running Dom Dwyer’s first trip back to the Citrus Bowl since winning the USL Pro championship back in 2013.

Adrian Winter broke into Orlando City’s starting lineup in a big way, first by scoring the quickest goal in club history in the 3rd minute when he headed in a Luke Boden free kick to take a 1-0 lead.

Winter then put the proverbial nail in the coffin when he picked up a loose ball in the box and put it into the back of the net to give Orlando a 3-1 lead in the 71st minute.

“We are a team and every player is important so I always want to help the team,” “Today I scored two times but it isn’t important who scored the goals, what’s important is did the team win the games, so today we started to win the games and I hope it goes again like this.”

Bryan Rochez also scored his first MLS goal when he finished off an assist from Brek Shea that came on Shea’s first touch of the ball since sustaining a groin injury against the Colorado Rapids back on June 24.

Shea played 30 minutes in the win and his assist came on his very first touch of the game. The veterans return couldn’t have come at a better time for Orlando City as they continue to fight for that sixth and final playoff spot.

“It was great to get the big guy on the field again,” said head coach Adrian Heath about Shea’s return to the lineup. “He gives the crowd a lift, he gives his teammates a lift and obviously he picked the right ball for the goal.”

Sporting KC did tie the game at 1-1 in the 59th minute when Krisztian Nemeth sent a shot into the top corner of the net for his ninth goal of the season.

Dwyer was sent off in the 87th minute after receiving a red card for a challenge on David Mateos.

The win couldn’t have come at a better time for Orlando City as both Philadelphia and Montreal suffered losses this weekend. The three points move the Lions into a tie for sixth place in the Eastern Conference with Montreal, who still have four games in hand over Orlando.

“Obviously we’re all going to be at Montreal’s hands but they’ve got a lot of games to play in not many days,” said Heath about the tight playoff race. “We’ll see where we go but tonight gives us a little chance and we got closer to that red line.”

With only five games remaining in the regular season all points are crucial for the Lions, especially in weeks when Montreal fail to claim a result. Despite being tied with the Impact in the standings Orlando City don’t control their own destiny as Montreal have nine games remaining in their season, allowing them to garner more points down the stretch.

On the injury front, Heath did say following the game that Kaka remains day-to-day but he’s “hopeful” he’ll be able to play next weekend.

Orlando City will now travel to Chicago to take on the last place Fire at Toyota Park on Saturday with an 8:30 EST kickoff.

“It’s a great win tonight, we put in a great effort and hopefully the momentum we had tonight carries over to next week.” said Shea following the win.