Anyone who watched Orlando City play in recent years has undoubtedly noticed offensive struggles, but that wasn’t always the case with this club. Back in the USL days, Orlando City was a high-flying team under the leadership of former head coach Adrian Heath. The Lions played an attacking style with wing backs overlapping the midfielders and sending balls into the box for forwards. This resulted in the highest-scoring games in club history.
In each of the club’s four seasons in the USL, the Lions were among the top two teams in goals scored, leading the league twice. After scoring 36 goals in 2011, they hit the 50 mark each of the next three years. The most impressive offensive performance was in 2012 when the team scored 50 goals in 24 games, leading the next highest-scoring team by 14 goals.
A major help to these scoring totals was the team’s ability to light up the scoreboard on any given night. The most goals Orlando City ever scored in a game was seven and it did so four times between 2012 and 2014. Let’s look back at those four incredible offensive performances.
The first time Orlando City hit the seven-goal mark was in 2012 in a U.S. Open Cup match against KC Athletics. Playing at the club’s former training facility, the Seminole Soccer Complex in Sanford, the scoring started off with an own goal by Coady Andrews in the fourth minute. However, the Lions started scoring for themselves in the 26th minute when Maxwell Griffin scored his first of two. John Rooney followed two minutes later with his first of a brace as well. Fan favorites Jamie Watson and Matt Luzunaris each tallied a goal as the Lions beat the fourth division side 7-0 to advance to the third round of Open Cup play.
While 2012 saw the first seven-goal performance by the Lions, most fans probably remember the 2013 season the best. This was when the club started topping the 10,000 mark in attendance and Dom Dwyer was scoring at will. He was certainly on against Antigua Barracuda on May 4 that year, netting a hat trick in a 7-2 win. His goal in the first minute is still the earliest goal in club history. Within 20 minutes, a brace by Dwyer and goals by Anthony Pulis and Dennis Chin had the Lions up 4-0. Two second-half goals, an own goal by George Dublin, and a seventh by Rob Valentino put the finishing touches on a dominating effort.
Of the four seven-goal games Orlando City’s had, none are more famous than the 2013 USL Pro Championship Game. Orlando City hosted the final at the Citrus Bowl and didn’t disappoint the 20,886 fans in attendance. Dwyer returned for a one-game loan from Sporting Kansas City and netted four goals in the title-winning performance that ended 7-4. After Dwyer scored the first four goals for the Lions, Chin scored a second-half brace split up by an Adama Mbengue goal — assisted by Dwyer. It was the last game Orlando City played before earning a spot in MLS and is still the most famous game in club history.
The final seven-goal game came on Aug. 31, 2014, and featured a dominant display by club legend Molino. Hosting the Dayton Dutch Lions at Disney, the Floridian Lions took hold early with a Molino goal in the sixth minute and never looked back. The Trinidadian midfielder scored a hat trick, leading his team to a 7-0 win. Austin da Luz scored his only brace during his lone season with the club, while Guiseppe Gentile and Mbengue capped off the scoring.
Before the Lions struggled to stay in MLS playoff contention, they were a high-flying act in the USL. In a four-year run that resulted in five trophies, they matched the club record for goals in a game four times. It’s a period that will always be fondly remembered by the longtime fans of the club.