Categorized | Featured, USL Pro

Orlando City Soccer vs. Wilmington Hammerheads USL Pro Semifinals Preview

Orlando City Soccer Look For Revenge In USL Pro Playoffs vs. Wilmington: The 2012 USL Pro playoffs are underway, and there are just four teams that are searching for the 2012 USL Pro Championship. Two of those teams are going to meet in Orlando at the Florida Citrus Bowl on Friday night, as the Orlando City Soccer Lions face the Wilmington Hammerheads.

Orlando City, the 2011 USL Pro champs, were easily the best team in the league this year at 17-1-6, accounting for 16 more points than the second place Rochester Rhinos, who will also play on Friday night. Meanwhile, Wilmington was able to sneak into the back end of the playoffs this year with 37 points, and it was able to take down the Richmond Kickers 3-2 in last week’s quarterfinals to be able to advance to this point in the season.

The Lions definitely aren’t going to be taking this game lightly, knowing that they were beaten by these very same Hammerheads back on June 2nd. That game was at Legion Stadium though, and this is at the Florida Citrus Bowl, where Orlando City posted a dominating 4-1 victory at the outset of the season in April. These two teams also played to a draw on July 25th, but by that point, OCS knew that there was never a double that it was getting into the second season with ease as the top team in the league.

Dennis Chin is going to be the key for the Lions, as he led the league this year with 11 goals and 13 assists. Chin scored the capping goal of the 4-1 win in April, but the man of the hour in that game was John Rooney, who scored twice in the first half out of the midfield. Rooney won’t be in the lineup on Friday night though, and Jean Alexandre is still nursing an injury that will keep him sidelined as well. This could be problematic for the Lions, though Head Coach Adrian Heath has arguably the deepest team in the league on his side, and replacements should be ready to go. We expect to see Jaime Watson teamed up with Chin up front, though Matt Luzunaris, who scored nine goals this year, will be in consideration as well.

Last year, the Hammerheads came back from a one-year hiatus and got into the playoffs, getting bounced out of their first round match. They looked to be on the wrong side of last week’s first round playoff fixture as well, especially early against Richmond. The Kickers took a 1-0 lead and could have easily been up 3-0 in the first 15 minutes. Wilmington was able to find pay dirt in the 69th and 72nd minutes, but just seven minutes later, the Kickers were level once again. The match seemed destined for extra time, but it was Tom Parratt, a man who didn’t score a single goal in the regular season, that made the difference.

The injury situation to Alexander Horwarth is definitely one worth watching. Horwath played 22 of the 24 games this year for the Hammerheads in net, but he suffered a hamstring injury and was replaced after just a few minutes of action, giving way to Troy Hernandez, who made his debut on the pitch with Wilmington in the game.

OCS went 8-0-4 this year at home and had a +19 goal differential in just 12 matches. The Lions have only been beaten once here on their home turf in team history, making the Citrus Bowl clearly one of the toughest places to play a match, let alone in the playoffs. Wilmington was an atrocious road team this year, accounting for just two wins. Only Dayton, Pittsburgh, and Antigua had fewer, and they finished in the bottom three spots in the table.

Friday night’s kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. (ET) at the Citrus Bowl, and the winner will advance to September 8th’s USL Pro Championship Game. If the Lions win this match, they will host the championship game for the second straight year against the winner of the Rochester Rhinos vs. Charleston Battery fixture, which is also going on this Friday night. If Wilmington pulls off the upset, either Rochester or Charleston will host the game.

This TSS post was written by:

- who has written 17 posts on Total Soccer Source.

The MLS is the league that you're going to find Ryan Andrews following, as he was sucked into this league with Seattle Sounders FC. Andrews never misses a match, and he loves cramming into Qwest Field with his other fellow Sounders followers.

Click Here To Contact

Comment on this post using Facebook:

Leave a Reply


Soccer Betting