Orlando City News Release -- www.orlandocitysoccer.com
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando City Soccer Club is headed north to South Carolina for a match against the Charleston Battery that carries with it major playoff implications. With a win or draw, the Lions will clinch a place in the USL PRO playoffs. Kickoff at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston is set for 7:30 p.m.
When the Lions and Battery meet, history tends to be made. Last season, Orlando became the first lower-division team to defeat the Battery at home in the U.S. Open Cup. Later in the season, the Lions won their first regular season title by defeating the Battery in two consecutive games. Just two weeks later, the Lions won their first ever playoff game by defeating the Battery. It is only fitting that history is again on the line, with the Lions able to clinch their second consecutive trip to the playoffs on Thursday night.
This season, the Battery have tangled with Orlando just once, on June 9 at the Citrus Bowl. The Lions emerged from the hard-fought match with a 2-1 victory. The match was a typical Orlando/Charleston affair, with both defenses battling strong offenses, each looking to spring the counterattack by releasing to speedy wingers and forwards. Thursday’s match should see more of the same.
Going into Thursday’s match, the Lions and Battery sit in first and second place in the USL PRO table. Teams typically climb the standings by having a better home record than away record, but that isn’t the case with the Battery. Their home record is nearly identical to their road record, with the club losing three games apiece both at and away from Blackbaud Stadium. Against Orlando City, the Battery hold a 1-1 record at Blackbaud. On Thursday, something will have to give.
The match is not only a clash of the top two teams in USL PRO, it is also a match-up of the league’s leading goal scorers. Orlando’s Dennis Chin sits second in the league with eight goals. Charleston’s Nicki Paterson is first with nine. In addition to chasing Paterson, Chin is also chasing team history. The club record for goals is nine, set by Max Griffin last year. The Rollins alum has a penchant for scoring big goals against Charleston. Last season he scored the game-winner that eliminated the Battery from the 2011 playoffs.
The Lions will be the first team to clinch a spot in the USL PRO playoffs with either a win or a draw on Thursday. Should Orlando win, they will also be in position to clinch a first round bye, pending the results around the league. If both Harrisburg and Rochester drop points this week, the Lions will be able to clinch. Harrisburg plays road two matches this week (Wednesday and Friday), increasing the chances that they will drop points.
Thursday’s match will be broadcast on USLNation.com, the USL’s free online video streaming service. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Tonight’s Harrisburg match and Saturday’s Rochester match will also be shown on the service, allowing fans to see first-hand if the Lions clinch a bye this weekend.
Player to Watch - Jamie Watson
Dennis Chin may be chasing Nicki Patterson for the league lead in goals, but there is another Lion that is just as likely to score against Charleston. Jamie Watson has two goals on the season, but his last came against the Battery. In the last four meetings with Charleston, Watson has scored three times. At this point last season, Watson began to catch fire. With his goal-scoring history against Charleston, this may be the game he starts his late-season push.