Brawl breaks out as Lions clinch regular season
Orlando City clinched its consecutive USL Pro League championship Friday night with a 4-0 blowout of the Charleston Battery. In a game that was marred by a brawl in the second half, Orlando City showed its dominance of the USL at the Citrus Bowl in front of about 4,700 fans.
The second half of the game started out quite psychical. Hard fouls from both teams led to verbal exchanges between players and it escalated into a brawl around the 58 minute mark when players from both teams began to throw punches at midfield. After the teams were separated Orlando City’s James O’Conner and Charleston’s Colin Falvey were ejected from the game.
Minutes later the Battery’s Hoffer was given a red card and was also ejected from the game. Although the foul wasn’t very severe it seemed like the referees were trying to take back control of the game and it appeared to work as the fouls began to stop.
Scoring opened up in the 16th minute in a bizarre manner when an errant pass by Charleston bounced off defender Kyle Hoffer into the air near the top of the box, where midfielder Kevin Molino gained possession and sent a cross towards the goal, but Hoffer deflected the ball and put it just out of reach of Battery Keeper Andrew Dykstra and it went into the net as an own goal.
Forward Matt Luzunaris added to Orlando City’s total five minutes later on a header, with midfielder George Davis getting credit for the assist. Davis brought the ball down the left side of the pitch and found Luzunaris for the wide open header.
Forward Dennis Chin added goals in the 76th and 85th minute to push him past teammate Luzunaris and into first place in as the USL Pro league leader in goals on the season with 10 and also gives him the Orlando City single season goals record.
“It means a lot to me, especially since it was this club because they gave me a chance. Before this I wasn’t playing so im just glad they gave me an opportunity” said Chin of his accomplishment.
The win also gives Orlando City a first round bye in the playoffs and gives the players a chance to relax before the playoffs starting with tomorrow’s friendly with English Premier League club Stoke City.
“We know its going to be very, very tough but the players can enjoy coming in and playing tomorrow without the pressure of the last few weeks of having to win the title. Now it will give us a chance to give a few players who need some minutes minutes and give some rest to one or two players who need it,” said Head Coach Adrian Heath.
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