Oklahoma City, Okla.- Continuing its winning ways, Orlando City SC (4-0-2, 14 points) defeated expansion side OKC Energy FC (2-3-0, 6 points) 2-1 at Pribil Stadium on Saturday night. The victory puts City in control of first place in USL PRO, three points clear of LA Galaxy II.
Saturday night’s match marked Oklahoma City Energy FC’s inaugural home game, featuring a sell-out crowd. Despite the match being the first ever between the two sides, both Orlando and OKC share a connection, as the Energy is coached by former Sporting Kansas City Captain Jimmy Nielsen, who included former Orlando City players Jon Kempin and Kevin Ellis in the line-up.
City, on the other hand, was without two of its key players due to Rob Valentino suffering an injury earlier this week against FC Dallas and Darwin Ceren heading back to Orlando for personal matters.
As a result, the first 15 minutes featured a more direct approach from City, rather than their usual possession-oriented style, and OKC was arguably the better side.
Energy FC Midfielder Peabo Doue got in behind on two separate occasions, but a well-timed challenge from 18-year-old Defender Tyler Turner and a key save from veteran Miguel Gallardo kept the scoreline level.
The Lions’ first quality chance wouldn’t occur until the 23rd minute when the club’s first MLS signing employed a bit of trickery to skip past OKC center-halves Gareth Evans and Mark Howard. The Trinidadian International then played a crafty ball to Chin who had his final effort saved by Kempin.
But, just one minute later Chin would redeem himself by finding the back of the net from a deep ball played by Yordany Alvarez.
After an initial save from Kempin, the striker pounced on the rebound and tucked away his second goal of the season.
With the early goal secured, City took control of the game and created a flurry of close chances in the final minutes of the first half.
The elements played a part in tonight’s match as both teams had to adjust to the windy conditions on hand.
City played with the wind in the first half but was forced to play against strong gusts in the second 45, making it difficult for the Lions to have any sort of aerial play.
Nevertheless, City would find their groove in the second half and attack relentlessly. In the 56th minute, Molino scored his fourth goal of the season after intercepting a poor back pass from Mark Howard.
The finish puts Molino’s tally to four in as many games, with the midfielder leading the team in goals so far this season. In his three previous seasons with City, Molino has never scored more than two goals in each campaign.
Deep into stoppage time, OKC scored their first-ever home goal when substitute Stephen Perry was able to get on the scoresheet.
The Lions will now return back to Orlando and prepare for their home leg of the I-4 Derby, presented by United World Soccer. The match against the Tampa Bay Rowdies is scheduled for Wednesday, April 30. Kick-off is set for 7:30 p.m. at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
Team 1 2 Final
Orlando City SC 1 1 2
OKC Energy FC 0 1 1
ORL- Dennis Chin (unassisted) 24’ – Kevin Molino (unassisted) 56’
OKC- Stephen Perry (unassisted) 90’
Orlando City SC- GK Miguel Gallardo, D Tyler Turner, Justin Clark, Brad Rusin, Luke Boden, M Yordany Alvarez, Anthony Pulis, Adama Mbengue, Kevin Molino (Mikey Lopez 85’), Brian Span F Dennis Chin (Corey Hertzog 70’)
OKC Energy FC- GK Jon Kempin, D Cyprian Hedrick, Gareth Evans, Kevin Ellis, Mark Howard (David Leichty 82’), Kyle Miller, M Michael Thomas, Nate Shiffman (Stephen Perry 46’), Peabo Doue (Phillip Lund 46’), F Adda Djeziri (Pete Caringi 57’), Kyle Greig
ORL- Justin Clark (Yellow Card) 88’
Time of Match: 8:00 p.m. EST
Weather: — Windy