ORLANDO – May 2, 2015 – Orlando City Soccer Club defeated Brazilian Serie A club Ponte Preta 3-2 in a thrilling contest at the Orlando Citrus Bowl on Sunday night.
Despite utilizing a squad comprised of mainly younger players, the Lions fought back from an early 1-0 deficit to produce a win for the 20,501 fans in attendance, as Bryan Róchez, Cyle Larin and Sean St. Ledger all scored for City. The finishes marked both Róchez’s and St. Ledger’s first goals in purple.
In addition, the win moves Orlando City to 2-5-1 all time in international friendlies during the past five years. The Lions previously defeated English Premier League club Newcastle United 1-0 while in USL in 2011.
“I was pleased with the guys. We competed in the game really well and obviously I’m delighted for the players, pleased for the supporters,” said head coach Adrian Heath. “But I have to be honest, I’m really pleased with the players to get a few goals and actually feel that even though it was a friendly game to have won the game at all.”
“First and foremost I think we’ve had great support every game,” said defender Brek Shea. “I think for the people who came out tonight, I hope they were pleased. The win was for them and I hope we showed them the excitement of a win. That’s been, for me, the biggest letdown this season is not getting three points at home for the fans.”
8’ Orlando City were awarded an early free-kick after Kaka forced the Ponte Petra defense to bring him down outside the box. The Brazilian’s following free-kick was floated toward the back post, but Ponte’s defense did well to clear the danger.
12’ After earning a dangerous free-kick toward the right side of the box, Ponte Preta broke the deadlock in the 12th minute of play when Tiago Alves nodded the ball into the back of the net. The cross was initially sent in the box for Rildo, who flicked it to Alves on the back post.
18’ Midfielder Eric Avila was brought on for Kevin Molino, who went down with an injury.
24’ Midway through the first half, Ponte Preta - who are in preparation mode for the start of their season on May 10 - were in control of possession.
25’ Heath subbed in Brek Shea for Kaká in the 25th minute. With Luke Boden featuring at left back, Shea was pushed further up the pitch at left midfield.
31’ After collecting an Orlando giveaway, Rildo broke free of his marker and was played in behind the City defense for a one-on-one with rookie goalkeeper Earl Edwards. Edwards came charging off his line and was booked for clipping Rildo, who appeared to drag his foot to force the contact.
32’ However, Edwards came up big for the Lions, saving Rildo’s penalty-kick to keep City within one goal.
34’ Higuita volleyed an effort from the edge of the area, however it was a comfortable save for Ponte goalkeeper Marcelo Lamba in the end.
45’ Moments before the halftime whistle, Bryan Róchez scored his first goal in purple to level the scoreline, heading Avila’s corner into the back of net.
46’ Both teams made one change at the half. Orlando City brought on veteran defender Sean St. Ledger for Seb Hines and Ponte introduced Borges - who was making his debut. In seven years with Sao Paulo FC, Borges scored over 100 goals.
52’ Playing together for the first time this season, Shea and Boden were dangerous on the left side for City. After receiving Boden’s ball deep in Ponte’s half, Shea accelerated past his defender and pulled the ball back for Róchez. However, Ponte’s defense managed to cut it out.
55’ Shortly afterward, Avila notched his second assist of the game, finding St. Ledger for a powerful header to put the Lions up 2-1.
59’ However, Ponte was able to equalize just four minutes later after being awarded a free-kick on the edge of the area. Renato Caja found the back of the net for Ponte, curling a left-footed free kick around the goalkeeper.
68’ Boden’s curling free-kick caused a threatening moment for Lamba, who nervously parried it wide.
72’ Brek Shea ventured on a powerful run through the middle of the park, skillfully beating two Ponte defenders before setting it wide for Róchez. The striker attempted to clip it back post for Danny Mwanga, but was unable to find the winger.
83’ With seven minutes remaining in the match, Orlando City continued to push forward for the win, despite the match being a friendly.
89’ As the match approached stoppage time, Tyler Turner played Larin in behind to run at goal. After outrunning his defender, Larin was brought down in the box and the Lions were awarded a penalty.
90’ Shortly afterward, the rookie striker calmly sent the goalkeeper the wrong way, scoring his second goal as a Lion in 2015.
PON - Tiago Alves (Rildo) 12’
ORL - Bryan Róchez (Eric Avila) 45’
PON - Renato Caja (Unassisted) 59’
ORL - Sean St. Ledger (Eric Avila) 55’
ORL - Cyle Larin (Unassisted) 90’
ORL - Cristian Higuita (Yellow Card) 11’
ORL - Earl Edwards (Yellow Card) 31’
PON - Pablo (Yellow Card) 45’
ORL - Amobi Okugo (Yellow Card) 61’
Orlando City SC – GK Earl Edwards, D Luke Boden, Seb Hines (Sean St. Ledger 46’), Conor Donovan, Rafael Ramos (Tyler Turner 84’), M Amobi Okugo (Danny Mwanga 63’), Harrison Heath, Cristian Higuita, F Kevin Molino (Eric Avila 18’), Kaká (Brek Shea 25’), Bryan Róchez (Cyle Larin 71’)
Ponte Preta – GK Marcleo Lomba, D Rodinei, Pablo, Tiago Alves, Gilison (Juninho 73’), M Fernando Bob, Josimar, Paulinho (Borges 46’), Renato Caja, F Biro Biro, Rildo (Adrianinho 80’)
Time of Match: 7:30 p.m. ET
May 2, 2015
ORL - 8
PON - 9
ORL - 2
PON - 4
ORL - 2
PON - 0
ORL - 15
PON - 18
ORL - 2
PON - 4
Orlando City will return to league play at the Orlando Citrus Bowl on Friday, May 8, to face the New England Revolution. Kick-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET.