LOUISVILLE, KY -- One would think that even with a less than first choice lineup, Orlando City would be good enough to beat a USL side but the Lions had other ideas tonight.
In a match that means absolutely nothing to either side, Orlando City traveled to the Bluegrass State to take on its now lame duck USL affiliate Louisville City FC at Louisville Slugger Field in a friendly on Tuesday night in front of a record crowd of 9,434. An energized Louisville side fed off of a loud and boisterous crowd to defeat the Lions, 3-1.
"It was nice for some of the younger guys (to see the field)," Orlando City Head Coach Adrian Heath said after the match. "I think the one thing it shows them is that it's tough down there. You know, next year we're gonna have a USL team and it's gonna be tough in the league. It doesn't surprise me that all the teams at the top are USL teams (as opposed to MLS 2 teams)."
The first half was a wide-open affair with chances for both sides, though the home side would get the better of them. Louisville got the action started off with a chance in the first minute for Juan Guzman and again in the fourth when former Lion Bryan Burke got a cross in that was blocked.
This being a friendly neither side wanted an injury. The tenth minute was a scary one for that reason for the Lions. Louisville midfielder Niall McCabe came in with a hard tackle on forward Bryan Rochez, and the Honduran striker went down in a heap, but got up to play on. McCabe was shown a yellow card for the play.
Orlando had great chance in the 22nd minute after a handball just outside the box set up Darwin Ceren and Carlos Rivas with a dangerous free kick from around 20 yards out. Ceren tapped the ball to Rivas whose shot was blocked by the wall.
Louisville took the lead in the 35th minute, when leading scorer and team captain Matt Fondy was released down the left side on a through ball by Enrique Montano. Fondy cut the ball inside to his favored right foot and beat Earl Edwards Jr. with the shot to give the USL side the lead.
"Matt Fondy's been bumping around the MLS, but he's a handful," Heath said of Louisville's captain. "Good center forward."
Louisville City led at halftime, 1-0.
The home side doubled in the 50th minute the lead when Guzman pressured Orlando City defender Estrela. Edwards, who had a few good saves early, came off of his line to claim the ball but it somehow squirted free. Guzman was left with an open net and tapped home the easy finish.
The Lions pulled one back in the 66th minute. Danny Mwanga showed some of the talent that made him the first overall pick in the 2010 draft with a left footed curler that beat Louisville keeper Greg Ranjitsingh. Mwanga did well to create space for himself against defender Tarek Morad and calmly curled the ball into the upper corner. The goal ended a 420-minute Orlando City scoring drought.
Louisville tacked on a third goal in the 78th minute in similar fashion to their second. Substitute Illija Illic made a slick move to pull into space and was dragged down from behind by Adrian Winter to set up a free kick which Louisville took quickly. Charlie Adams broke into space, took a few touches bringing out Edwards who again allowed the ball to skip past him after a collision with Adams. Adams' toe poke extended Louisville's lead. Orlando players pleaded with the referee for a foul, or potential handball, but the goal was allowed.
Edwards was shown a yellow card for protest.
Louisville City killed the game off in the final minutes and defeated Orlando 3-1. Orlando was out-shot 19-9 on the night and had four yellow cards shown to them.
"Very, very proud moment for all of us," Louisiville Head Coach James O'Connor said.
Orlando escaped the match wihtout injury according to Heath. "We've got one or two minor knocks but we should be ok."