Dom’s Golden Boot Dom Dwyer’s brace brought his goal total to 12, good for the most ever by an Orlando City player in a season. And here’s the scary thing: We’re only a third of the way through the season. Dwyer has twice has many goals as the USL Pro’s second most prolific scorer, Richmond’s Joseph Ngwenya, who has netted six scores in 5 games. Granted, Dywer has played in four more games, but the 2013 USL Pro Golden Boot is most definitely Dwyer’s to lose. And it seems incredibly unlikely that he’ll fall short. Tonight’s effort showed once again that Dwyer can score in multiple ways — his first was an expertly taken free kick while his second was a classic poacher’s tap in — and given the number of chances Orlando City creates it seems not only conceivable but likely that he’ll push his total north of 30 by season’s end. It’s going to be a bummer when Sporting KC comes calling to reclaim him to MLS, but given KC’s wealth of attackers it’s possible Dwyer might be more than one and done in Orlando.
Eliminating Mistakes After Dwyer’s second in the 55th minute, it looked like City was well on their way to extending their home dominance to the road. But then Christian Duke got caught in possession in his own third and a whole slew of Lions defenders failed to close out Yann Ekra as he beat Miguel Gallardo at the far corner to equalize. City center halfs Rob Vallentino and Yann Songo’o looked particularly bad on the play as they failed to engage Ekra despite the fact that there wasn’t another Harrisburg attacker within 10 yards of a threatening position. Quite simply, one or both of them needed to close him down and neither did. If Orlando City is going to win the USL Pro regular season for a third consecutive season, they’ll have to stop squandering points with defensive miscues.
Open Cup Re-Opens Orlando City plays its first game of the 2013 U.S. Open Cup next Tuesday against PDL side Ocala Stampede. If City wins, they’ll host the Colorado Rapids at Citrus Bowl the following week. After consecutive third-round road defeats in the past two seasons, home-field advantage would give Orlando City a great opportunity to progress further than ever in America’s intra-division competition. We can’t wait.
The lower echelons of the U.S. Soccer Pyramid have always featured a varied level of competitiveness between the league members. Sometimes astonishingly so. Like the last two opponents for the Lions. The demolition job on Antigua Barracuda and the uplifting victory over the Sounders Reserves are a case study in the extremes of what OCSC face when it comes to the 11 men on the other side of the field every year.
Like most people at the Citrus Bowl two Saturdays ago I was thrilled at the quick goal to begin the match; cheered by the next few; started to think geez, this is a professional team (supposedly composed of National Team players); to feeling sorry for the night’s opponent. Sort of like watching a traveling U-14 district all-star team demolish the local church league co-ed team in a pay-per-play tournament. Lots of sympathy, cringing and finally cheering for the out-of-their-depth punching bag when they finally score a goal. You now it is bad when the night featured non-injury substitutions for City central defenders – something you see maybe once a year. Speaking of so-called defenders Antigua’s seem to think they should always maintain a fifteen yard distance from each other. Even in their own 18 yard box. I don’t think I have ever seen a worse display of defense. Even in U-4 leagues. The coach must be the prime minister’s son.
Compare that cakewalk to the next match for the Lions which featured former and current National Team players, past MLS MVP and Defenders of the year, along with some of the best young talent in the Pacific Northwest as the opposition. Our team is to be congratulated on making the transition in required effort and playing well in both matches. I was extremely pleased to “hear” Miguel Gallardo back in action between the pipes. He equals a well organized defense and shutout in most cases. The blooming partnership between Misters Dwyer and Chin is very satisfying as is the improving play of Kevin Molino and the rock solid organization of midfield that came back with James O’Connor’s return to action. Most importantly we managed to avoid some sort of foul up on the backline.
A very special shout out goes to the fans who made the cross-country trip to support OCSC in Takoma. They impressed the locals and I am sure the team got a great lift from them as well. Everyone should look forward to the return leg. And the result looks promising for our U.S. Open Cup run. Speaking of which try to make it out to the Seminole Soccer Complex for our U23′s Open Cup game tonight against VSI Tampa. And don’t forget to catch the two games Friday and Saturday on USL Live.
Orlando City 4 – Dayton 0
Pressure Pays Against USL competition, Orlando City virtually always dominates possession with its short-passing game. Opposing teams usually respond in one of two ways. 1. They put nine men behind the ball, clog up passing lanes through sheer numbers, and try to nick a goal or two from counter attacks or set pieces. 2. They throw caution to the wind, pressure high and look to capapilize on mistakes. Cory Hertzog and the Wilmington Hammerheads used the latter strategy to perfection to upset Orlando City in the semifinals of last year’s playoffs.
This win was one of the most complete performances Orlando City Soccer Club has put together in its two-plus seasons. Perhaps energized by the way they dropped two points against the Charlotte Eagles in mid-week. When City did lose the ball, they worked relentlessly to get it back. As a result, the Lions did the vast majority of their defending in their opponents half and for large swathes of the game, City’s strikers, midfield and wing backs pinned Dayton back in their own third. This tactic was so effective that Dayton mustered virtually no offense in the final 60 minutes. By the end of the match, the Dutch Lions’ only means of relieving the steady onslaught was to clear the ball to their lone striker and hope could hold it up long enough to muster some sort of counter attack. All this against a Dayton team that had started the season brightly, winning its first two matches against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds and VCI Tampa Bay.
City fans set a regular-season attendance record for the second straight week
The 9,589 fans Saturday night marks the second-straight week in which Orlando City set a regular-season attendance record. The previous week, 9,140 came out to see the Lions top LA 3-2, a record in its own right. They were rewarded with the best team effort to date in 2013. Thanks again and keep supporting the team at each home game which lead us to:
Antigua Barracuda Match
After finally putting a complete 90 minute effort together OCSC will want to maintain the momentum with another shut-out against the bottom-dwelling sharp-teethed fish from the Caribbean. It is very hard to win on the road in the USL – witness Dayton’s performance after a seventeen hours bus ride to a Tampa game last Friday and then having to face the best team in the league the next night. But this season Antigua is playing everyone of their games on the road. Hence the 0 and 4 record with 0 points to start the season. They will have a tough time tonight although they were the last team to defeat the Lions in the Citrus Bowl during a regular season.
City will look to come out and pressure the visitors high and hard and pounce on the inevitable giveaways. Clinical finishing should make this another satisfying outing but wasting chances like we have earlier in the season could lead to frustrating tilt against Antigua. However, I look for Dwyer to stay hot and Chin to keep increasing his form along with his fitness. Molino needs to pick up his game for City to purr offensively. And the midfield needs to keep gelling on the defensive side of the ball.
Since, they may not face many chances the backline will need to stay dialed in and avoid the mental mistakes leading to goal scoring chances we’ve seen too many of early in the season. I have confidence that they will as they get more minutes playing as a unit.
Look for another dominating victory. We’ll see everyone at the game. Come early and come loud.