Match Preview: 4.21.2012 at Richmond Kickers
Lions look to make it three in a row in RichmondORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando City Soccer Club looks to extend their season-opening winning streak on the road this Saturday, April 21. The Lions face their toughest test yet in USL PRO powerhouse Richmond Kickers, one of only three teams to beat Orlando in league play last season. Kickoff at City Stadium in Richmond is set for 7 p.m.
Orlando City’s season is often to a strong start according to the results. The Lions are 2-0-0, outscoring their opponents six to one in the process. Still, the reigning USL PRO champions are well aware of the long road ahead, and the challenges faced by their next opponent.
“The one thing I would say to my players is if we play like we did last week I don’t think that will be good enough,” said Orlando City Head Coach Adrian Heath. “One or two people thought I was too critical of the performance on Sunday, but I know what we’re capable of. I don’t think that performance will be good enough to win on Saturday.”
The all-time series between Orlando City and Richmond falls in favor of the Lions (2-1-0), but the Kickers do have one feather in their USL PRO cap that most league opponents do not - a win over the Lions. After losing the season opener in Richmond, Orlando responded by winning 2-0 in Orlando, and then 3-0 in the USL PRO Playoffs, also in Orlando. History may be on the Lions’ side, but Heath is aware that the game needs to be played.
“When we played them last year, we didn’t play well on the day, but I thought they were good. We probably had their number a little bit after that. I don’t think any of the games were really comfortable. They have a good team. They’re well coached, well organized. I think this is a game where everybody needs to step up and all of our players need to realize that these are the games that we have to be really, really committed to because, like last year, I think [Richmond] will be near the top of the table.”
In addition to the general familiarity from last season, there’s particular awareness of play styles between City defender Rob Valentino and Richmond midfielder Stanley Nyazamba. Both played for FC Tampa Bay in 2010. The Lions will rely on Valentino’s familiarity with the Zimbabwean, who leads Richmond’s scorers with two goals in as many matches.
Following the match in Richmond, both teams will head to Orlando for a game on Saturday, April 28. Due to the full week between matches, Heath doesn’t think Saturday’s match will have much of an impact on the following week’s match.
“We take every game as it comes. We treat every opponent with the same respect. We don’t fear anybody, but we give them all respect. My team is not good enough to treat any other team with disrespect and still win the game. If we don’t approach the game properly, we won’t win the game.”
Player to Watch - Dennis Chin:
Chin comes into the match tied for Orlando City’s golden boot. What’s more impressive is that Chin has scored as both a starter and a sub, the only Lion to do so so far in the early season. Chin has also shown that he’s capable of having an immediate effect on the match. Both of his goals have come within four minutes of his stepping on the pitch. The question against Richmond is will Chin be able to keep the streak alive? If so, will that quick strike come at the beginning of the match as a starter, or late in the proceedings as a substitute?
Miguel Gallardo, Sean Kelley, Jerome Mechack, Luke Boden, Wes Allen, Erik Ustruck, Rob Valentino, Kyle Davies, Ian Fuller, Kevin Molino, Charlie Campbell, James O’Connor, Anthony Pulis, John Rooney, Max Griffin, Jamie Watson, Dennis Chin, Matt Luzunaris