U23s Match Preview: 7.28 vs. Carolina Dynamo
U23s face Carolina Dynamo in rematch of 2007 PDL National SemifinalORLANDO, Fla. The Orlando City U23s square off against Eastern Conference Champions Carolina Dynamo on Saturday, July 28, at Macpherson Stadium in Greensboro, N.C., in the 2012 PDL National Semifinals. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
I want to win another PDL Championship, with it this time being in the Orlando City organization, said Joe Avallone, head coach of the Orlando City U23s. Weve accomplished a lot in our first year as the Orlando City U23s, but by no means are we satisfied yet. Were still hungry.
Since falling to IMG Bradenton Academics in the second-to-last game of the regular season, the U23s have been in top form. To clinch the final playoff spot in the Southern Conference playoffs, the Lions topped FC Jax 3-1 in Jacksonville behind two Nicolas Russo scores in the second half.
Orlando maintained the momentum heading into the postseason, beating Mid South Division champ Laredo Heat 2-1 last Friday, then taking the Southern Conference crown by defeating Austin Aztex 4-2 on Sunday. It was the second Southern Conference Championship the U23s have won including the 2004 title when the team was known as the Central Florida Kraze.
The Dynamo finished the 2012 regular season with an impressive 11-1-4 record, reaching the National Semifinal for the first time since the aforementioned 2004 season. To clinch the Eastern Conference, Carolina won an exciting match over Ottawa Fury in the conference finals last week, scoring a late extra time goal to advance to the National Semifinal. The Dynamo enter Saturdays semifinal on a 16-game undefeated streak, dating all the way back to June 2.
The last time these two clubs met in the playoffs, it was in the same National Semifinal both teams are prepping for tomorrow night. In the 2004 National Semifinals, the Kraze and Dynamo battled to a 1-1 draw, ending regulation. Penalty kicks eventually decided the victor, with Central Florida taking the narrow 2-1 win. The Kraze went on to win the 2004 PDL National Championship, topping the Boulder Rapids Reserve 1-0.
Carolina is led by Forward Hakan Ilhan, who totaled eight goals and six assists for the Dynamo during the regular season. Combine those two numbers and you get an impressive 22 points for Ilhan, who finished tied for 14th in the point leader category of the PDL.
For more information on Saturdays match and more, visit Orlandocitysoccer.com. Be sure to also follow the U23s on Twitter @OrlandoCityU23s for all news regarding Orlando Citys PDL team.
Player to Watch: Samuel Fairhurst
U23s Midfielder Samuel Fairhurst was a key component to the Lions 4-2 win over the Austin Aztex in the Southern Conference Championship final. Fairhurst assisted Orlandos first two goals in the 13th and 45th minutes, giving the Lions the advantage heading into the locker rooms at half. Look for Fairhurst to continue to have another big game against the Carolina Dynamo in the National Semifinals.
Moses Aduny, Johan Bergfeld, Ricardo Campbell, Oumar Diakhite, David Graydon, Will Frandsen, Ryan Griffin, Ezequiel Pedraza, Joseph Toby, Steven Williams, Sean Reynolds, Anthony Arico, Keneil Baker, Jonathan Mendoza, Nicolas Russo, Verneri Valimaa, Jowayne Laidley, Darvin Ebanks, Gonzalo De Mujica, Alexander McDonald, Chip Sanders, Sam Fairhurst