By MIKE GRAMAJO
Adrian Heath and Orlando City SC entered Saturday’s USL Pro home opener vs. the Pittsburgh Riverhounds as heavy favorites.
The result told a different story, however.
The Lions had several scoring opportunities, but were left to settle with a 1-1 draw at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
Jose Angulo, who co-led the league in scoring in 2013 with 15 goals, gave the Riverhounds the lead early in the second half when he was able to capitalize on an Orlando defensive error. The forward beat defender Rob Valentino and then slotted the ball past goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo in the 50th minute.
Orlando were able to equalize in the 57th minute when a failed corner-kick clearance from the Riverhounds found defender Luke Boden, who drilled the ball through a wall of defenders to level the match.
Despite the result, this is the first time in Orlando City’s history that they started the season with two-consecutive draws. The Lions currently sit in third place with two points.
Here is a closer look at the rest of week 2 action in the USL Pro:
LA GALAXY II SPOIL SAC REPUBLIC DEBUT WITH LATE EQUALIZER
Sacramento Republic FC made their USL Pro debut on Saturday night at the StubHub Center, but it was the LA Galaxy II’s Chandler Hoffman who made a statement and denied Preki’s men three points after a 1-1 draw in front of 1,085 fans in attendance.
“We have to solve how to deal with these situations better. When I tell the guys to make the game fast, it doesn’t mean to make it hectic, it means that we need to play quickly and make quicker decisions,” Los Dos head coach Curt Onalfo told the club’s website. “We could have lost the game, but we found a way to get a point and we need to use that as a springboard to learn from and move forward as a group.”
Forward Justin Braun gave Sacramento the lead in the 33rd minute when he headed in a failed clearance off a corner kick for the first-ever goal in club history. Sac Republic’s push for a second goal died down eventually when Preki decided to do a change in formation to hold on to the lead.
That allowed for substitute Hoffman, who was loaned down from the LA Galaxy the day prior, to give Los Dos the much needed equalizer in the 80th minute. Raul Mendiola’s lead counter-attack found Hoffman, who then cut off a Sacramento defender before placing the ball past goalkeeper Jake Gleeson and into the bottom corner.
BATTERY SQUANDER LEAD VS. KICKERS, DRAW AT BLACKBAUD
Draws headlined much of Saturday’s USL Pro action, and it was no different when the Richmond Kickers paid a visit to Blackbaud Stadium. The Kickers’ match ended 2-2 vs. Charleston Battery in front of 3,524 spectators.
“It’s unfortunate that we gave up that late goal, and obviously there are things that we need to work on,” Battery head coach Mike Anhaeuser told The Post and Courier. “Right now, we’ll just take the point, learn from our mistakes, and move on.”
George Davis and the 2013 regular season champions didn’t waste any time getting on the scoresheet, as they gained the lead in the 15th minute after Collin Martin found Davis with a through ball that resulted in him firing a shot past Battery goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper.
The Battery, however, found the equalizer moments later when midfielder Jarad van Schaik headed in a ball from midfielder Andre Lewis in the 22nd minute.
With the game leveled at halftime, Anhaeuser’s men took the lead in the 59th minute when van Schaik’s free kick found midfielder Amadou Sanyang. The lead was short-lived, as moments after Martin connected with Davis again in the 67th minute.
RED BULL RESERVES ROUT DUTCH LIONS IN INTERLEAGUE PLAY
After making the USL Pro playoffs last year for the first time in club history, the Dayton Dutch Lions kicked off their 2014 campaign on a bad note. They suffered a 3-0 defeat to the New York Red Bulls Reserves at Red Bull Arena on a rainy Sunday evening.
A scoreless first half displayed various scoring chances for both teams, but a second-half surge from the Red Bulls Reserves put the game to bed within a matter of 15 minutes.
Michael Bustamante gave the Red Bulls the lead five minutes into the second half after defender Connor Lade’s header off a corner kick found Bustamante to finish the play from close range. Erik Stevenson doubled the lead in the 61st minute when midfielder Marius Obekop found the former Akron Zips wide open to fire a shot past Dayton goalkeeper Matt Williams.
Stevenson helped deliver the final tally five minutes later when his corner kick found Matt Miazga, who headed the ball from close range off the crossbar and in for the 3-0 lead.
What did you think of week 2 of the USL Pro? How do you feel about it being a winless weekend? Do you think Orlando City can finally clinch a victory next week? What do you make of Sac Republic’s debut? What other matches are you waiting to watch?
Share your thoughts below.