In a highly entertaining fixture, Orlando City SC (7-9-6, 27 points) defeated second place side Columbus Crew SC (8-8-7, 37 points) 5-2 before 26,586 fans at the Orlando Citrus Bowl, securing three critical points for the Lions in a tight Eastern Conference race.
Orlando went down 1-0 early in the match when playmaker Federico Higuain scored for Crew SC in the fifth minute. Nevertheless, City’s relentless attack following the visitor’s finish led to the team’s highest goal-scoring production so far this season.
Rookie of the Year frontrunner Forward Cyle Larin found the back of the net first for the Lions, slotting away a well-placed ball from Corey Ashe inside the area after a series of close chances.
Seven minutes before halftime, midfielder Darwin Ceren provided Orlando’s second goal, blasting a second-chance effort into the top corner after receiving a precise through-ball from Kaka.
City opened the second 45 with another finish from Larin on Ashe’s dangerous cross into the box, extending the 20-year-old’s season tally to 11 goals. With the brace, Larin tied Damani Ralph’s single-season rookie scoring record, continuing his tremendous campaign in the Lions’ inaugural season.
Three goals were scored in the final 12 minutes of the match, as Aurelien Collin nodded home a powerful header and Cristian Higuita recorded his first goal in purple. Crew SC recieved a gift from the Lions in the final minute of the game when Collin scored an own-goal when running on to a clipped ball over the top.
“Obviously I’m delighted with the performance and the result against a very good team,” said head coach Adrian Heath. “You know how I feel about (Columbus) and how well coached they are. To come away like we did after conceding early on was an absolutely incredible performance by the boys. It was about four or five outstanding performances. A really good night’s work, players got a lot of reward for a lot of effort.”
3’ Cyle Larin continued his strong run of form as of late, finding himself onside with a golden opportunity to put the Lions ahead. However, Columbus goalkeeper Steve Clark was able to get low quick and make a tough save.
5’ Columbus Crew SC would find the back of the net two minutes later when Justin Meram’s ball split the defense, playing Federico Higuain in behind for a tap-in.
12’ Crafty build up play from City on the left-hand-side led to another prime chance for Larin, whose redirected effort forced another difficult diving save for Clark,
17’ The rookie’s hard work early in the game was finally rewarded near the midway point of the first half when Larin slotted home a well-placed ball from Corey Ashe, recording his fourth goal in the past two games for City.
22’ With Columbus pushing several players forward in response, Tally Hall produced a big-time save to keep things level, parrying Kei Kamara’s header on the back post with his finger-tips.
38’ With less than 10 minutes remaining in the half, Darwin Cerén doubled Orlando’s lead, after running on to a probing ball from Kaka, volleying his second effort into the top corner.
45 (+2) At the end of the first half, City ventured into the locker room up 2-1 over Crew SC – with both teams level on shots (9).
53’ Early in the second half, Larin’s strong play in the box continued when the forward tucked away another ball from Ashe, comfortably beating Clark to extend City’s lead.
65’ With a two goal cushion, Orlando’s play in the final third became increasingly confident as they continued to push forward for additional goals.
76’ The efficient goal-scoring production continued for City when Aurelien Collin scored his second of the season, nodding Luke Boden’s corner at the near-post into the back of the net.
78’ Heath made his first change of the game, introducing Bryan Rochez for Larin.
81’ Ceren came inches away from recording his first brace as a Lion, blasting a strong effort just over the cross bar.
84’ Orlando continued to entertain the crowd with six minutes left in the game when Cristian Higuita scored his first goal of the season, fueling the supporters who sang from start to finish.
90’ Orlando City conceded its only goal of the half when Aurelien Collin scored an own goal.
90 (+3) The referee blew the final whistle, resulting in a resounding 5-2 victory for Orlando.
Team 1 2 Final
Orlando City SC 2 3 5
Columbus Crew SC 1 1 2
CLB: Federico Higuain (Justin Meram) 5’
ORL: Cyle Larin (Corey Ashe) 17’
ORL: Darwin Cerén (Unassisted) 38’
ORL: Cyle Larin (Corey Ashe) 53’
ORL: Aurelien Collin (Luke Boden) 78’
ORL: Cristian Higuita (Kaka) 84’
CLB: Aurelien Collin (Own Goal) 90’
ORL: Seb Hines (Yellow Card) 63’
CLB: Waylon Francis (Yellow Card) 74’
Orlando City SC – GK Tally Hall, D Corey Ashe, Aurelien Collin, Seb Hines, Tyler Turner, M Darwin Cerén, Cristian Higuita, Luke Boden, Servando Carrasco, Kaka, F Cyle Larin (Bryan Rochez 78’)
Columbus Crew SC – GK Steve Clark, D Waylon Francis, Michael Parkhurst, Tyson Wahl, Chard Barson (Hector Jimenez 56’) , M Tony Tchani (Mohammed Saeid 66’), Wil Trapp, Ethan Finlay (Cedrick Mabwati 46’), Justin Meram, Federico Higuain, F Kei Kamara
Time of Match: 7:30 p.m. ET
August 1, 2015
Orlando City’s next match will take place against Toronto FC at BMO Field on Wednesday, August 5. Kick-off is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. ET. The match will be broadcast on My 65, Sun Sports, Real Radio 104.1 FM and La Grande 1030 AM. The Lions will return to the Orlando Citrus Bowl on a Saturday, August 8, for a match-up against the Philadelphia Union. Kick-off is set for 7:30 p.m. ET.
To purchase group or individual tickets, or to purchase 2016 Season Tickets and take advantage of preferred pricing before August 14,, visit www.OrlandoCitySC.com or call 855-ORL-CITY.