After a defensive and tactical week at training, Orlando City SC had a strong performance against fellow Floridian team, the Armada FC of the NASL, for its second game of the preseason in a rapidly cooling evening at Jacksonville’s Community First Park on Saturday. The Armada came out with a 2-1 advantage, but the Lions had plenty to take away from this key tune-up friendly.
“I’m really pleased with this game for us. Thought it was a good first half with a lot of positivity. Considering we are two weeks out, I thought there was a lot of good stuff happening in the game,” said Head Coach Adrian Heath. “Did we want to win, yes, but that’s not what these games are all about.”
Team Captain Kaka, USMNT player Brek Shea and MLS Rookie of the Year Cyle Larin saw significant minutes in their white kits for the first time this season, playing well into the second half.
The Lions maintained control of overall possession with several different players making impressive attempts at goal in the first half. The first shot on goal came from 2015 MLS Latino of the Year, Darwin Cerén, who ripped a ball just over the bar from 23 yards out in the 5th minute of play.
Larin attacked the backline with frequency, creating several opportunities for City’s midfield as well. Kaka curled a lovely free kick into the top left corner, just past the outstretched hands of Armada goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo in the 32nd minute of play. In addition to Cerén and Kaka, Larin, David Mateos, Cristian Higuita and Seb Hines made impressive attempts a goal throughout the first half with substantial contributions from newcomer Tony Rocha, who looked sharp all evening.
The second half lineup for City remained fairly intact with goalkeeper Earl Edwards, Jr. stepping in for Joe Bendik for the only substitution when play resumed. However, Head Coach Adrian Heath made sweeping changes in the 60th minutes, providing the remaining roster with valuable playing time in this preseason friendly. Players introduced in the second half included: defenders Aurélien Collin, Tyler Turner, Luke Boden, Kevin Alston and Tommy Redding, midfielders Harrison Heath, Servando Carrasco and Richie Laryea as well as forward Hadji Barry.
Armada managed to score twice in the second half, the first when defender Mechack Jerome nearly replicated Kaka’s curling free kick in the same position. Also forward Alhassane Keita’s long-range shot deflected into the goal to give the Armada the 2-1 lead over the Lions.
Several former Lions featured for Armada this evening, including goalkeeper Gallardo and defender Bryan Burke–both players who made significant contributions to the Club’s success when it played in the USL. Former Orlando City draft pick Akeil Barrett and defender Mechak Jérôme also featured for Armada FC.
Orlando City opens the 2016 MLS season against Real Salt Lake on Sunday, Mar. 6 at the Orlando Citrus Bowl. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. For tickets, visit www.OrlandoCitySC.com or call 855-ORL-CITY FREE.
Team 1 2 Final
Orlando City SC 1 0 1
Jacksonville Armada FC 0 2 2
ORL – Kaka (32)
JAX – Mechak Jérôme (48)
JAX – Alhassane Keita (58)
Orlando City SC – First Half: GK Joe Bendik, D, Seb Hines, Brek Shea, Rafael Ramos, M Kaka, Cristian Higuita, Darwin Ceren, Adrian Winter, Tony Rocha, F Cyle Larin