Richmond, VA. – Orlando City SC (17-3-4, 55 points) snapped the Richmond Kickers’ (13-2-10, 49 points) 21-match unbeaten streak 3-2 Saturday night at City Stadium in a soggy battle between the top two teams in USL PRO.
Midfielder Kevin Molino continued his impressive attacking form by breaking the league single-season goal scoring record with a scintillating finish in the second half to notch his 16th of the season.
Orlando City’s newest players, recently-signed Rafael Ramos and Estrela, made remarkable debuts by recording their first goals in Purple and White with eye-catching finishes.
After the match, Lions Head Coach Adrian Heath had high praises in regards to the two new players and his squad’s motivated performance saying, “We’re delighted about the result. It certainly put us in a position to win the Regular Season which is what we set out to do before the season. I thought that the two new players (Estrela and Ramos) were outstanding, considering that they haven’t played for two or three weeks. Their contribution was massive, and we got a little bit of luck which we’ve been lacking in previous weeks, so overall it was a really pleasing night for everybody.
It didn’t take long for the Lions to jump on the score-sheet. In the 8th minute of play, Estrela powered home a volley from outside the box to open the scoring. The defensive midfielder was lurking on the edge of the area, as Richmond struggled to clear Adama Mbenuge’s set-piece, maneuvering his strike through the cluster of players in the 18-yard-box.
The early goal energized the Lions. As the half wore on, City continued to effectively distribute the ball around the pitch, penetrating the Richmond backline with tempting crosses into the box. With numbers in the penalty area, Orlando came close to converting on several occasions, but Richmond Goalkeeper Ryan Taylor produced timely saves to prevent further damage in the first 45.
Moments before the halftime break, Miguel Gallardo was forced to make a miraculous save from point-blank range. Kickers’ Midfielder Jason Yeisley had a clear chance to equalize from six yards away, but the fast-acting ‘keeper quickly pushed it wide.
In the fast-paced second half, the Lions’ created more chances on target through productive build-up play that quickly broke down the Kickers’ defense. In the 51st minute, Molino received a pass from Chin just outside the box and converted a world-class strike that curled past Taylor into the top-right-corner.
Following the goal, Molino, the Club’s first Major League Soccer (MLS) signing, expressed his delight for the record and the win: “It’s always a good feeling to break a record, but the most important thing for me was us winning the game and going six points clear.”
In light of Molino’s wonder-goal, Richmond made a desperate push to salvage crucial points, resulting in a goal from former Lion George Davis IV one minute later. However, Orlando responded when Ramos cut past two defenders en route to a precise finish at the near-post, extending City’s advantage.
Richmond continued to fight, nonetheless, and substitute Nate Robinson gave the Virginia-based side life when he tucked away Davis IV’s cross with twelve minutes remaining. Orlando’s championship mentality kicked in though, as the Lions exerted maximum effort on the defensive end, sustaining Richmond’s pressure to secure the win.
NEXT MATCH: Orlando’s final game of its current three-game road trip will take place at Legion Stadium on Thursday, September 3 against the Wilmington Hammerheads. Kick-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.
Team 1 2 Final
Orlando City SC 1 2 3
Richmond Kickers 0 2 2
ORL – Estrela (Unassisted)
ORL – Kevin Molino (Dennis Chin) 52’
RIC – George Davis IV (Unassisted) 53’
ORL – Rafael Ramos (Unassisted) 70’
RIC – Nate Robinson (George Davis IV) 78’
Orlando City SC – GK Miguel Gallardo, D Rob Valentino, Brad Rusin, Tyler Turner, Rafael Ramos, M Adama Mbengue, Kevin Molino (Tommy Redding 84’), Darwin Cerén, Estrela Corey Hertzog (Austin da Luz 44’), F Dennis Chin (Giuseppe Gentile 70′)
Richmond Kickers – GK Ryan Taylor, D Sascha Gorres, Yomby William, Conor Shanosky, Alex Lee, M Luke Vercollone, Samuel Asante, Kyle Porter, George Davis IV, F Shay Spitz, Jason Yeisley
George Davis IV (Yellow Card) 32’
Darwin Cerén (Yellow Card) 37’
Estrela (Yellow Card) 89’
Time of Match: 7:00 p.m. EST
Weather: — Rainy
August 23, 2014