Yes, this was a friendly, and yes, Orlando City played almost none of its regular starters, BUT THIS FRIENDLY WAS DIFFERENT AND MEANINGFUL AND IMPACTFUL AND STUFF. Because we won. Had we lost, eh, nbd, BUT WE WON SO IT TOTALLY MATTERS!
All cynicism aside, it was a fun match to watch with goals, yellow cards and a record crowd of over 9,400. Somewhat surprisingly, James O’Connor put out his normal starting XI minus Conor Shanosky (injury), while, as mentioned before, Orlando City put out most of its second team roster, including a few of its former USL holdovers, Estrela, Tommy Redding, and Darwin Ceren. The Lions owned most of the run of play for the first ten minutes but Elsie had the first shot on goal just afterwards and the play evened out after that. In the 34th minute, the Royals’ leading scorer Matt Fondy produced a very good piece of skill when he got on the end of a long pass and beat the only defender back, then rifled a shot to the back right corner of the net that easily beat Earl Edwards, Jr. for the opening goal.
Orlando City was obviously pretty embarrassed about that, so they pressed with some shots on goal of their own to finish out the half, but weren’t able to get any results from it and the whistle blew with the good purple team up 1-0.
Elsie traded out goalkeepers in the second half, and Greg Ranjitsingh got his first game action since playing against Lansing United in the US Open Cup. The Lions tried to take advantage early, but it was Louisville again that would take the upper hand in the 50th minute. Earl Edwards, Jr. and the Orlando back line failed to clear Juan Guzman’s initial effort and Louisville’s No. 8 didn’t waste his second chance, crushing the rebound right past everyone to make it 2-0.
Orlando City would pull back within one in the 66th minute Substitute Danny Mwanga took advantage of some meh defending by the Royal back line and beat two defenders with a shot from the top of the 18 yard box that Ranjitsingh had no chance to save. The Lions almost got an equalizer a few minutes later, but in the 78th minute, Charlie Adams, who subbed on for Niall McCabe, sealed the deal for Louisville when he collected another poor clearance from Edwards and pounded it into the goal to make it 3-1, which would hold until the final whistle.
It truly was a fun game, but the serious stuff starts again on Saturday at Slugger against Pittsburgh. Here’s hoping that the guys get some rest and sew up their playoff spot against a desperate Riverhounds team.
COME ON, CITY.