RICHMOND, Va. – Orlando City SC took a six-point lead at the top of the USL PRO standings, and Kevin Molino scored his record-setting 16th goal of the season, as the Lions took a thrilling 3-2 victory against the Richmond Kickers in front of a rain-soaked crowd of 3,562 at City Stadium on Saturday night. Orlando midfielders Valdmiro Lameira and Molino boosted the visitors to a 2-0 lead within the first 10 minutes on either side of the half before Kickers midfielder George Davis IV pulled a goal back. Rafael Ramos increased the visitors’ lead, and a Nate Robinson goal and a late-game comeback was not enough to overcome the league-leaders, who snapped the Kickers’ 21-game unbeaten streak.
Orlando raced to an early lead, capitalizing on a free-kick opportunity in the eighth minute. The Lions' Corey Hertzog drew a free kick deep in the right corner and Adama Mbengue served an in-swinging delivery into a swarming box. Defender Rob Valentino got a touch on the loose ball inches from the goal line but Kickers midfielder Luke Vercollone headed it off the line. Lameira rushed onto the rebound at the top of the penalty area and buried the follow up shot into the far right corner.
The Kickers responded four minutes later when defender Conor Shanosky served a long ball from the midfield to the top of the box. An Orlando defender headed it down, only to be scooped up by Kickers midfielder Luke Vercollone who laid it off to Shay Spitz. The Kickers midfielder settled the ball 20 yards out and fired a left-footed curling shot to the right post, but his effort pinged off the inside of the upright before being cleared out to deny the quick strike equalizer.
Later in the half, Kickers defender Alex Lee stole the ball deep in Orlando territory and tore through the midfield before slotting a leading ball to Kyle Porter on the right touchline. He eluded his mark en route to the penalty area and rocketed a shot on target but Orlando goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo smothered the effort.
Richmond had another big chance to equalizer with five minutes remaining in the half when Vercollone turned his mark and fed the ball to Samuel Asante, who raced through the midfield. A give-and-go with Spitz sprung him free on the right flank to slice a cross to the six yard box that connected with an awaiting Jason Yeisley, but his shot from point-blank range was denied by Miguel Gallardo.
Minutes after the restart, Orlando doubled its lead when a poor clearance out of the back was intercepted, freeing Ramos on the right sideline. Trotting towards the box, he centered the ball to Dennis Chin, who laid it off for Molino to chip a lofted ball just under the crossbar. Molino's goal broke the single-season regular season goal-scoring record, breaking the mark set by former Lion Dom Dwyer and Pittsburgh's Jose Angulo last season.
The visitors’ celebrations were short-lived; however, as the Kickers answered back seconds later when Görres received the ball on the wing and played a through ball to Davis deep on the left side. Beating his mark into the penalty area, he fired a shot to the far upper corner to cut the deficit in half.
With an equalizer looming, Orlando increased its lead in the 70th minute after drawing a free kick in the midfield. Moving the ball up the field, Mbengue played the ball back to Chin who sought out an unmarked Ramos at the left touch line. The swift midfielder carried the ball into the box and beat Kickers goalkeeper Ryan Taylor to the near post, wrapping a bending shot around the upright.
The Kickers retaliated once more eight minutes later when Görres battled for the ball and fed a low pass through to Davis. Davis squared the ball for second-half substitute Nate Robinson, lurking at the penalty spot, who calmly tapped home the club’s second goal of the night.
Despite the late-game pressure and a flurry of fouls, the Kickers could not level the score inside the final 10 minutes as Orlando took all three points at City Stadium, handing the Kickers their first regular-season home defeat since the 2012 season.
The Kickers conclude the 2014 regular season with a three-game road stand, first travelling west for a pair of games against the Orange County Blues and LA Galaxy II before a rematch against Orlando City on September 6. Guaranteed home field advantage for the first round of the playoffs, the Kickers return to City Stadium on Saturday, September 13. Tickets are on sale now at RichmondKickers.com.