LAKEWOOD RANCH, Fla. (December 1, 2016) – The Orlando City SC Pro Academy U-17/18 (13-1-0, 39 points) scored two goals in each half to down Sporting Kansas City U-17/18 (8-4-0, 31 points) Thursday in the first of three games of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Winter Showcase at Premier Sports Campus.
Sporting jumped out to an early lead but the Lions fought back with a goal just three minutes later. Defender David Norris’ header on a corner delivery was cleared off the line and Mikael Martins knocked in the rebound.
“[The Showcase] is a big occasion for the boys so it’s a learning curve,” U-17/18s head coach David Longwell said. “However, when we’re a goal down, the character of the group really shows. They came back from a deficit and really turned the game around.”
In the 34th minute, Martins slipped a pass to Raul Aguilera. The 17-year-old drove the box from the right wing and ripped a shot to make it 2-1.
“In the first half alone we created so many opportunities. We missed chances that we’ve got to be more clinical in,” Longwell added. “Second half I thought we played better.”
City made it 3-1 in the 62nd minute when Joe Gallardo curled a gorgeous ball across the box to Juan Hernandez, who laid it off to Martins at the top of the box. Martins slid the ball to the right post for his eighth goal of the season.
Three minutes later, goalkeeper Justin Bauer was forced into charging out to stop a solo opportunity and was called for a foul in the box. Bauer exited the game and Jonathan Price wasn’t able to stop the penalty kick.
That’s all Sporting could muster on the attack and the Lions earned the insurance marker in the 82nd minute when David Loera found Landen Haig alone in the box. Haig took a simple touch past the onrushing goalkeeper and tapped in his eighth goal of the season.
“Happy with the amount of chances we created,” Longwell said. “Happy with the result.”
The first-place U-17/18s return to action Friday, Dec. 2, against Lonestar SC Academy U-17/18. Kickoff is set for 3:15 p.m. ET on Field 11. The Lions finish the Showcase Sunday against New York Red Bulls U-17/18.