Match Preview: 4.15.2012 vs. Wilmington Hammerheads
Lions welcome Wilmington Hammerheads for 2012 Home OpenerORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando City Soccer Club kicks off the home portion of the 2012 season on Sunday versus Wilmington Hammerheads. Kickoff at the Florida Citrus Bowl is set for 6 pm.
The Lions come into the match at the top of the USL PRO table on the strength of a season-opening 2-0 win in Charlotte last week. City looks to continue that strong start and re-establish the Citrus Bowl as tough place to visit.
“Last year we made this place a bit of a fortress,” said Head Coach Adrian Heath. “We need to start off on the front foot on Sunday. Everyone is really excited, really looking forward to the start of the season here in Orlando. We’re confident. We know there’s a lot of pressure on us, but we’re confident we can try and repeat what we did last year.”
City started the season short-handed last week, with both Max Griffin and Miguel Gallardo unavailable due to injuries and suspensions. Both are back, and look to make their 2012 debuts on Sunday. The Lions will have their full line-up available for selection as everyone is healed up from their offseason and preseason injuries.
The all-time series between Orlando and Wilmington favors the Lions. City took victory in Wilmington, 4-2, before Wilmington snuck away with a draw in the rematch at the Citrus Bowl. Andriy Budnyy scored a goal in the 84th minute on an assist from Luke Mulholland to give the Hammerheads a late equalizer in front of a national television audience.
Mulholland, the 2011 USL PRO Rookie of the Year, is no longer with the Hammerheads. How Wilmington responds to his absence will go a long way in determining the outcome of the match.
“[Wilmington] lost a couple of players and changed the squad a bit,” said Heath of the Hammerheads. “Knowing [Wilmington Head Coach] David Irving, they’ll be very competitive as the always are. We’ll have to play at our best. We’ve had a great week’s training. The players are really looking forward to playing in front of our home crowd.”
Tickets for Sunday’s match start at just $15. Orlando City’s ticket office will be open on both Saturday and Sunday to accommodate high ticket demand for this match. For more details, call 855-ORL-CITY or visit www.orlandocitysoccer.com today.
Player to Watch - Kevin Molino:
No player had a busier off-season than Kevin Molino. His frequent appearances for the Trinidad and Tobago National Team at both the Senior and U-23s levels have Molino in mid-season form going into just the second match of 2012. Last week, Molino iced the match against Charlotte late, placing a low shot through the crowd in front of the net. High expectations have been set for Molino in 2012. All indications are that he has hit the ground running.
Expected Available Squad (unofficial):
Miguel Gallardo, Sean Kelley
Rob Valentino, Kyle Davies, Luke Boden, Jerome Mechack, Erik Ustruck, Wes Allen, Justin Clark
Kevin Molino, Anthony Pulis, James O’Connor, John Rooney, Jamie Watson, Ian Fuller
Max Griffin, Matt Luzunaris, Dennis Chin