Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, FL is host to the Silver Spurs Rodeo, but it was a wild west-style shootout that took place in the building when the Orlando SeaWolves took down the Mississauga MetroStars to earn their first franchise victory. Orlando (1-2) got a hat trick from former Orlando City USL midfielder Jonathan Mendoza on the way to a 12-7 victory over the MetroStars (1-3).
Orlando City fingerprints were all over the win, with Luke Boden adding a brace, Tyler Turner chipping in a couple of assists, and Lewis Neal also assisting on a goal. Gordy Gurson, Edwin Rojas, and Osvaldo Rojas added braces for the SeaWolves, with Gurson also adding a pair of assists on the night.
It didn’t take the SeaWolves long to open the scoring. Boden held up the ball on the right side of the Mississauga zone. He slipped the ball to the top of the area to Turner, who slid it left for Mendoza, who fired. The shot got through starting goalkeeper Spyros Stergiotis and trickled in to make it 1-0 just 3:14 into the game. It was Mendoza’s first goal with the SeaWolves and it had a full-bodied Orlando City flavor with Turner and Boden being heavily involved.
Less than a minute later, Mississauga got a great opportunity but Molham Babouli fired over the bar behind Orlando keeper Rainer Hauss. The first half then settled into a back-and-forth game without too many clear-cut chances for the next 10 minutes.
Orlando came close a couple of times with Dylan Hundelt having his shot blocked by the face of Mississauga’s David Velastegui at the 7:27 mark and Turner hitting the bar just 23 seconds later.
Then the game exploded over the last several minutes of the opening period, with Orlando scoring four more times to take a 5-0 lead before conceding a goal late in the quarter. Luiz Mota scored his second goal of the year at the 9:31 mark to double the lead. Osvaldo Rojas made it 3-0 at 10:46 and Gurson’s breakaway score made it 4-0 at 11:40. It was Gurson’s second of the season. Just 17 seconds later, Edwin Rojas got on the score sheet with his first Orlando goal to make it 5-0. Turner got his second assist of the night on the play.
Damion Graham’s strike beat Hauss with under three minutes left in the first period to stop the bleeding for Mississauga. That was all the scoring for the first quarter. Each team fired nine shots in the opening frame but Orlando made the most of its chances by putting more than half in the back of the net to lead 5-1 after one.
The MetroStars weren’t done, though. Josip Keran smashed a golazo from outside the Orlando zone that beat a screened Hauss to cut the lead to 5-2 just 2:01 into the second. The SeaWolves had a couple half chances after that, with Joshio Sandoval and Gurson having shots blocked and Richard Schmermund firing over the bar.
But then the MetroStars scored against the run of play when Marco Rodriguez out-muscled Turner to win a ball and hit one off the wall that caromed out in front for Graham, who easily slotted home to make it 5-3 at the 5:46 mark. Joshua Paredes nearly made it 5-4 moments later, but Hauss made a big save to keep the lead at two goals.
Orlando kept up the pressure with Gurson having a shot deflect just wide of goal and a spectacular Gurson scissor kick effort on the volley didn’t miss by much. The SeaWolves then went on the game’s first power play when Shawn Brown ran over Hauss and saw the first blue card of the match for charging.
Boden made that power play pay off. He had a couple of chances early in the man advantage but saw his first shot blocked and his second wasn’t hit well, allowing replacement goalkeeper Sebastian Zeballos to make the save. But the third time was the charm, as Boden squeaked one between Zeballos and the post to make it 6-3 at the 10:41 mark. The Orlando City flavor continued, as Neal got the assist on Boden’s second goal of the year.
The three-goal advantage didn’t last long, however. Orlando got too unselfish on an odd-man rush and the extra pass was cut out, allowing the MetroStars to break. The visitors brought the ball into Orlando’s end and the SeaWolves couldn’t gain control as Hauss made saves on former MLS All-Star Dwayne De Rosario and Martinho Dumevski. But the second rebound popped right to Paredes, who fired home to make it 6-4 at 11:50.
The SeaWolves again got too unselfish in the final minutes of the first half, with Joshio Sandoval passing up a shot to feed Gurson, who also passed up a shot to send it right back. Sandoval then got three cracks at a goal from close quarters but Zeballos kept them all out.
Orlando took a 6-4 lead to the break, out-shooting the visitors, 20-16 (16-14 on target). Orlando committed five fouls to Mississauga’s three, but got the only power play of the half, scoring on it.
Mississauga kept Orlando hemmed in its own end for the first minute of the third quarter but the SeaWolves blocked a couple of shots to keep the advantage at two goals. Gurson then tried to chip Zeballos from three-quarters the length of the field after the MetroStars’ keeper had come out to play the ball. Unfortunately he hit it a bit too hard and it went out of play.
Mendoza built the Orlando lead back to three goals at the 1:13 mark. Boden back-heeled a ball for Schmermund to run onto along the right side and his shot caromed off the end boards, where Mendoza volleyed it home to make it 7-4.
Mississauga fought right back again, however, after Gurson’s turnover in the corner of his own defensive end. The turnover found its way to Matthew Rios, who fed Marco Rodriguez for the goal to make it 7-5 at the 3:51 mark. The MetroStars had a chance to creep even closer when Boden was sent to the penalty box for striking Velastegui with a wayward hand.
The power play ended up doing Mississauga no good. It was Orlando that produced a breakaway opportunity shorthanded and Martinho Dumevski was forced to pull back Mendoza to prevent the scoring chance. Gurson smashed home the resulting penalty to make it 8-5 and seconds later it was an Orlando power play. Boden made the most of that by scoring his second goal of the night at the 7:17 mark off a Sandoval assist.
The MetroStars cut the lead to 9-6 on Graham’s third goal of the night. Mendoza turned the ball over and De Rosario fed the ball to Graham, who finished his hat trick. But Mendoza made up for that mistake just 29 seconds later, taking a pass from Mota and completing his own hat trick, building the lead to 10-6. Edwin Rojas made it 11-6 by tipping a Gurson drive past Zeballos and the SeaWolves led by that score after three quarters.
The visitors wouldn’t go away. Rodriguez scored his second goal of the game just 3:25 into the fourth to make it 11-7.
Gurson set up yet another goal at the 6:50 mark of the fourth to restore the five-goal advantage. He picked out Osvaldo Rojas who waited for Zeballos to go to ground, then calmly finished to make it 12-7.
De Rosario had a pair of chances with under five minutes to play. He got a lucky bounce to set him in on Hauss but fired wide with his first effort and then forced a good save by Hauss on a second opportunity. Another chance presented itself with under two minutes remaining and he calmly turned two defenders inside out and then missed wide again.
The clock wound down and Orlando had its first franchise victory. The SeaWolves ended up being out-shot, 33-30 (26-21 on goal) and went two-for-three on the power play while killing off the only Mississauga opportunity. Orlando committed 14 fouls to the MetroStars’ eight.
The SeaWolves will go on the road to take on the Florida Tropics next Saturday at 7:05 p.m. in Lakeland.