USL News Release
Saturday, September 3, 2011
ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando City goalkeeper Sean Kelley wasn’t expecting to play much of a role in the USL PRO Championship Game.
“In a game like that, if I were to have to come in, something would have had to go wrong,” he said.
Something went wrong for Orlando City, with starting goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo being sent off just after the halftime break, but Kelley turned in an MVP performance as the Lions capped an outstanding season by defeating the Harrisburg City Islanders 3-2 in a penalty shootout after the two teams had played to a 2-2 draw through regulation and overtime.
“He comes in every day, trains so hard and at times it must be hard for him when he’s behind Miguel,” Orlando coach Adrian Heath said. “Tonight it was strange, I said to him before the penalties that I had a feeling he was going to be big.”
Kelley saved the City Islanders’ first two penalties in the shootout, denying Nelson Becerra and Jose Angulo with saves to his right, and the Lions held a 2-0 advantage after Lewis Neal and Yordany Alvarez both scored. But Harrisburg got back on even terms as J.T. Noone and Stephen Basso both scored and Orlando’s Charlie Campbell and Luke Boden both skied their shots, leaving the teams tied 2-2 entering the final round of shots.
“It was not what you want to see,” Kelley said. “It’s not the best feeling, but I was just trying to stay focused and prepare for the next shot.”
Harrisburg’s Sainey Touray missed that shot wide left to open the fifth round, opening the door for Devorn Jorsling to give the Lions the championship, and he obliged, shooting low into the left corner of the net to send the majority of the crowd of 11,220 at the Florida Citrus Bowl into massive celebrations.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever been in a game that crazy before,” Lions midfielder Jamie Watson said. “It’s an unbelievable feeling right now.”
While both teams had chances in the first half -- the best falling to Harrisburg’s Brian Schofield, who shot over the crossbar from 15 yards after beating Orlando’s offside trap -- the game didn’t come alive properly until the second half. Four minutes after the break Touray was played in down the left channel and was brought down outside the penalty area by Gallardo, who was shown a red card for preventing a goal-scoring opportunity.
That gave the City Islanders the upper hand, and they tried to take advantage with Touray proving a constant menace, knifing past his marker in the 62nd minute only for Kelley to smother his shot as he closed down on the attacker.
But while they were down to 10 men, Orlando continued to push men forward at every opportunity, taking the game to the City Islanders as the half wore on. Watson had a glorious opportunity in the 70th minute as he broke through on goal and rounded Harrisburg goalkeeper Chase Harrison, only for a heavy touch to allow defender Geoff Bloes to recover and clear to safety.
The Lions’ pressure paid off in the 89th minute, though, when Lawrence Olum appeared to have given his side a dramatic victory after arriving late at the top of the penalty area to be found by a pass from Lewis Neal and rifling a shot home from 15 yards into the right side of the net.
But the drama was just beginning. Harrisburg threw everything forward in stoppage time, and off a third consecutive corner the City Islanders found their reward. Kelley came for the cross, but couldn’t gather, and Noone was on hand to poke the ball home from six yards out with what proved to be the final kick of regulation.
Harrisburg then took the lead five minutes into overtime, Touray heading home a near-post corner from Jason Pelletier to give his side the lead. The City Islanders almost added to their lead in the 110th minute, Angulo’s header coming back off the post and being scrambled to safety by Orlando’s defense.
“We were right there, I don’t think anyone can say we weren’t there,” City Islanders captain Anthony Calvano said. “You have to give them credit, being a man down for a while there you have to give them credit, but we were right there.”
Five minutes after Langley’s header almost sealed the City Islanders’ second USL Championship, the Lions gave themselves a chance at their first. A good ball into the penalty area found Dennis Chin, and he was brought down by Bloes, earning the defender a red card and Orlando a penalty kick and a chance to tie. Neal calmly slotted home from the spot to tie the game.
Either side could have won the game at the death, Touray’s header with a minute to go flashing just wide of Orlando’s right post and Harrison saving brilliantly from Chin to deny the Lions, but Orlando wouldn’t be denied in the shootout, with Kelley proving the hero. After a season that saw the side win both the regular season title and the league championship, the victory was a sweet one.
"It means everything," Watson said. "When we won the regular season championship, we said, ’we’re only halfway there,’ it was only half of the goals we had set. To do it like this proves we were able to live up to the billing that we gave ourselves and a lot of people gave us. I’m happy that we could, this will be a night we will all remember forever."