As we count down to the new year of 2017 – which will be Orlando City SC's third in MLS and second in the NWSL – and say goodbye to 2016, it's time to look back at the club's 10 best moments of the year.
As far as the 2016 season is concerned, Orlando City didn’t have many wins that were comfortable and complete. However, one match stands out as a complete and thorough domination by the Lions and it came early in the season against the MLS Cup holders. It’s our No. 6 moment of the year for Orlando City.
It was April 3, and undefeated Orlando City (1-0-2) was returning home after a 1-0 away win at New York City FC. The opponents were the defending MLS champion Portland Timbers, who entered the contest at 1-1-1. With team captain Kaká coming back from injury and a good start to the season, there was plenty of reason for optimism by Lions fans and that belief was rewarded by the club in what turned into a dominant 4-1 victory.
The Lions played tremendous team soccer throughout the match, with their Brazilian captain scoring a goal, assisting on two others, and – perhaps most importantly – getting Kevin Molino’s season started by letting the Trinidadian take a penalty, providing an easy opportunity for The Original’s first MLS goal.
It didn’t take long for Orlando City to flex its goal-scoring muscle in the match. Just 13 minutes in, Kaká dropped a perfectly placed free kick from distance onto the head of Seb Hines, who nodded home to give the Lions a 1-0 advantage. The news wasn’t as good nine minutes later, when Cyle Larin was forced out of the match with a hamstring issue. But in the 32nd, City doubled its lead with the club’s goal of the year.
Just before the break, Shea inadvertently handled the ball in his own box off a header by Servando Carrasco, offering the Timbers a way back into the match. But Joe Bendik denied Fanendo Adi’s spot kick to preserve the two-goal advantage, and the Lions took their 2-0 lead into the break.
Three minutes after the intermission, Kaká pushed the lead to three goals off an Adrian Winter assist. Molino added a penalty kick goal and it was all but over. Jack McInerney put Portland on the board late with a consolation goal, but it was a complete win for Orlando City,
Adrian Heath, who wouldn’t survive the season as Lions manager, was a happy head coach after the match.
"Massive win for us, first home win of the season. I thought we thoroughly deserved it," Head Coach Adrian Heath said after the match. "I thought some of our play at times was exceptional. We scored some great goals. Big performances from a lot of players."
The summer months might not have been as kind to Orlando City as those first few weeks of the season were, but we’ll long remember that 4-1 victory over Portland.
Come back every day through New Year's Eve to count down the remainder of Orlando City's top 10 moments of 2016.
Check out the rest of our top 10 Orlando City moments of 2016:
10. Orlando City secures two international partnerships.
9. Orlando City signs Antonio Nocerino and Julio Baptista.
8. MLS Commissioner Don Garber looks on as the first seats are installed in Orlando City’s new downtown soccer stadium.
7. Orlando City kicks off the Jason Kreis era with a victory over New England.