Lake Buena Vista, Fla. – Orlando City SC drew Brazilian super-club Sao Paulo F.C. 0-0 on Friday night at ESPN Wide World of Sports. Competing against the star-studded Brazilian side, Orlando City displayed its quality playing ability in a 0-0 draw through 90 minutes.
“I was incredibly proud of the guys’ effort tonight,” said Head Coach Adrian Heath after the 0-0 draw. “Obviously we rode our luck at times and Miguel made a few good, but we had three or four good efforts ourselves, so overall I’m delighted with the result.”
Hosting its second high profile international friendly in as many months, Orlando City’s match against Sao Paulo on Friday night proved to be another measuring stick for the Lions, as they aimed to display their ability to compete against premier players in world football.
Orlando City’s ability to play at a high level was on full display throughout the fixture, and OCSC was able to prevent the three time FIFA Club World Cup Winners from finding the back of the net.
The task of keeping a clean sheet was far from easy though, as Orlando were forced to sustain multiple threatening attacks from the Brazilian side in the opening portion of the first half.
Despite Orlando City controlling much of the possession, Sao Paulo’s chances were created via counter attacks though prominent attacking players such as Luis Fabiano and Paulo Henrique Ganso.
Fabiano’s chance came in the third minute when the powerful striker used his strength to create space, before firing an effort that went just wide of the near post. The chance from the former Brazilian National Team and Sevilla striker would be his final effort, however, as he was brought off in the 18th minute after picking up injury.
In light of Fabiano’s early attempt, Orlando City responded with vigor when Midfielder Adama Mbengue produced a strong strike from just outside the box that forced veteran Goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni to make a difficult save. Mbengue, along with Molino and the City attacking players, looked threatening on multiple occasions throughout the match, maintaining their excellent form throughout 2014.
Towards the end of the half, Hertzog had a legitimate opportunity to put the Lions ahead, but the striker took a bit longer than was needed, giving the Brazilians time to close him down.
Sao Paulo’s came close to firing back moments before the half-time whistle, but a well-timed sliding challenge from Aodhan Quinn kept the score-line level heading into the break.
Similar to the first 45, the opening portion of the second half featured another strong effort SPFC, including a close-range miss by former AC Milan Striker Alexandre Pato, and a curling left-footed effort from Ganso that rattled off the cross-bar.
Gallardo and the defense’s ability to weather the storm allowed Orlando City to begin controlling possession and, as a result, valid chances were created. The Lions began combining in promising areas of the pitch and a sense of confidence began settling in with the home side.
In the 64th minute, after lovely combination play in the middle of the park, Midfielder Brian Span managed to create additional space from himself and blast the ball at the target, forcing Ceni to nervously parry it away. Chin, who was brought on at half-time, ran on to the follow up but the SPFC defense did well to clear it away first.
Six minutes later, Molino played a crafty one-two in the box with a trialist and attempted to pull it back across the six, but Caio intercepted the Trinidadian’s pass to Chin and cleared it wide for another corner.
With a league match against the Dayton Dutch Lions set for Sunday afternoon, Head Coach Adrian Heath brought off several key players throughout the remaining 15 minutes. SPFC had one final attempt to try and steal a victory in the 89th minute from Alexandre Pato in the six-yard-box, but another great save from Gallardo would keep the clean-sheet in-tact.
The draw moves Orlando’s all-time international friendly record 1-6-1 in three years, with City’s only victory coming in the form of a 1-0 victory over Newcastle United in 2011.
OCSC’s next match will take place in USL PRO league play at 3 p.m. on Sunday afternoon against the Dayton Dutch Lions.
Orlando City SC- GK Miguel Gallardo, D Tyler Turner, Brad Rusin, Luke Boden, Rob Valentino, M Adama Mbengue (Austin da Luz 78’), Aodhan Quinn (Anthony Pulis 71’), Darwin Ceren, Brian Span (Trialist 67’), F Corey Hertzog (Dennis Chin 46’), Kevin Molino (Trialist 81’)
Sao Paulo F.C.- Rogerio Ceni, D Antonio Carlos, Rodrigo Caio, Souza, Luis Fabiano, Paulo Henrique Ganso, Alan Kardec, Osvaldo, Maicon, Lucas Evangelista, Douglas
ORL- Luke Boden (Yellow Card) 69’
Time of Match: 8:00 p.m. EST
Weather: — Clear