By MIKE GRAMAJO
KISSIMMEE, Fla. – As hard as it may be to believe given their successful past, Orlando City SC are enjoying their best-ever start to a USL Pro season.
Orlando City extended their unbeaten streak in the early stages of the campaign to seven games, defeating the Oklahoma City Energy, 3-1, on Sunday night at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
“They’ve worked hard and responded to some of the stuff we were talking about,” Orlando head coach Adrian Heath told SBI. “The game started slowly, it took us 5-10minutes before we started to play. We got goals in the right time.”
Kevin Molino helped break the deadlock for the Lions in the 32nd minute after his cross found Dennis Chin, who headed in the ball past Energy goalkeeper Jon Kempin. The Lions doubled the lead minutes later after Molino’s low cross found Yordany Alvarez, who struck the ball toward the bottom left corner.
The Energy cut the lead in the 41st minute after Steven Perry found Philip Lund, who slotted the ball toward an open net. Orlando, however, struck next, as Chin capped the victory when he bagged his brace in the 47th minute.
Orlando City currently sit in first place in the standings with 17 points, and are currently on a five-game winning streak.
Here’s a closer look at the rest of the weekend’s action in USL Pro:
BATTERY GET BACK TO WINNING WAYS AFTER SIX-GOAL WEEKEND
After sitting near the bottom of the USL standings, the Charleston Battery won two important road matches over the weekend.
The Battery thrashed the Harrisburg City Islanders, 4-0, on Friday at the Skyline Sports Complex to end their six-game winless start. That was followed by a 2-0 victory at Dayton Dutch Lions on Sunday.
Omar Salgado, who sustained an injury earlier in the season, was the catalyst for the Battery. After scoring the game winner on Friday, Salgado found the net again on Sunday in the 87th minute to seal the deal against the Dutch Lions.
LOS DOS CONTINUE HOT STREAK, ROLL PAST EAGLES
Chandler Hoffman’s game-winner in the 55th minute lifted the LA Galaxy II to victory, defeating the Charlotte Eagles, 2-1, on Monday night at the StubHub Center.
Charlie Rugg gave Los Dos the early lead in the 28th minute after Raul Mendiola’s shot took a deflection, but the Eagles tied the match seven minutes later after Herrera converted on a penalty kick.
With the game leveled going into the second-half, Rafael Garcia’s long-range pass found an open Hoffman, who converted a strike into the bottom left corner of the net for the winner.
The Eagles also succumbed to a defeat earlier in the week, falling to Arizona United on Saturday at the Peoria Sports Complex. Goals from Kadeem Dacres and Bradlee Baladez ensured Arizona would collect three points despite Jorge Herrera reducing the deficit for Charlotte after he scored in the 76th minute.
SAC REPUBLIC WIN FIRST HOME GAME, DEFEAT OC BLUES
Adam Jahn’s second-half game winner lifted Sacramento Republic to their first-ever home victory, defeating the Orange County Blues 2-1, on Saturday night in front of 17,414 fans at Hughes Stadium.
Tommy Stewart gave the Republic the lead in the 42nd minute after he hit what appeared to be a cross that found the back of the net. However, the lead was shortlived after Allan Russell’s diving header in the 48th minute leveled the match for the Blues.
Jahn clinched the victory for Sacramento in the 70th minute, finishing off a cross from Nemanja Vukovic. The game also saw goalkeeper Jake Gleeson make two pivotal saves to keep the Republic from settling for a draw.
RHINOS DROP POINTS ON THE ROAD AFTER CONSECUTIVE DRAWS
The Rochester Rhinos’ chance to move back into the top five in the USL Pro standings took a heavy blow over the weekend.
Alex Dixon’s 89th-minute goal seemed to cap the Rhinos the victory on Friday night at City Stadium, but George Davis’ stoppage-time goal for the Richmond Kickers prevented that from happening as the game finished in a 1-1 draw.
Things didn’t look too great two days later after Rochester battled to a scoreless draw against the Wilmington Hammerheads at Legion Stadium.
What did you think of USL Pro Week 7? Which results stood out to you? What’s more impressive: Orlando City’s start or Sacramento Republic’s latest attendance figures?
Share your thoughts below.