Match Preview: 8.1 & 8.3 at Harrisburg City Islanders & Rochester Rhinos
Lions begin final road trip of 2012 on WednesdayORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando City Soccer Club will play the final two road games of the regular season this Wednesday and Friday. Wednesday brings the Lions to Harrisburg, with Friday taking City to Rochester. Both matches will be broadcast on USLNation.com with kickoffs slated for 7:00 p.m. and 7:35 p.m. respectively.
Orlando City heads into the final road trip of the season with the 2012 USL PRO regular season title and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs already in hand. This trip is about maintaining fitness and momentum for the Lions after a week which saw City play three games in four days, including a friendly match against Stoke City from the English Premier League. The Lions went 1-1-1 in the three games, including a 4-0 drubbing of the Charleston Battery to clinch the regular season championship.
For Harrisburg and Rochester, these matches are about playoff positioning. Both sides are likely to make the playoffs, but their seeding is up for grabs. Harrisburg, sitting in fifth place, is looking to jump up at least one place in the standings in order to host their opening round match. Rochester is fighting for second place with Charleston, with a first-round bye on the line. The Rhinos hold a five point lead in the standings, but have played two additional matches.
One thing that will keep the Lions hungry is the healthy competition between their two leading goal-scorers, Matt Luzunaris and Dennis Chin. On Friday against Charleston, Luzunaris tied for the then-league-lead with his ninth goal of the season only to see Chin score his ninth and tenth goals of the year after replacing Luzunaris in the 67th minute. Despite Chin’s brace, Luzunaris has the hot foot as he has scored a goal in each of the last five matches.
For this trip, the Lions will be without on-loan Forward Jean Alexandre. The Haitian international was recalled by the San Jose Earthquakes for their friendly against Swansea City. City will also be without midfielder Anthony Pulis, who is nursing a hamstring injury. Ian Fuller is also questionable with a hip issue suffered during the road match in Charleston two weeks ago. Fuller will be on the sidelines in his coaching role regardless of if he’s available for squad selection.
Following this road trip, the Lions return home for their final match of the 2012 regular season and to prepare for the playoffs. City will be rested for those matches as they will have a week off between this trip and the season-closing match with Dayton on August 17. Following the finale, the Lions will receive a first-round bye. The first playoff match, the USL PRO semifinals, is tentatively scheduled for Friday, August 31, at the Citrus Bowl. Visit www.orlandocitysoccer.com for more information.