MELBOURNE — Playing in its first preseason game of the season, Orlando City claimed a 4-0 victory at Eastern Florida State College on Sunday at Titan Soccer Complex.
Hadji Barry scored twice while Tyler Turner and Tony Rocha also found the net, as the Lions secured a comfortable victory in their first preseason game of 2016.
“It’s been a combination of a great week,” Orlando City head coach Adrian Heath said. “We had a really great week down here. Training has been superb, and we had a really good performance. I think the lads approached the game the right way.”
Richie Laryea, who was the No. 7 pick in January’s MLS SuperDraft, orchestrated the first goal after connecting with Barry on a through ball, leaving the former University of Central Florida Knight to score Orlando City’s first preseason goal of 2016.
Rocha was part of the buildup that led to the second goal after finding Rafael Ramos, who then crossed the ball to find Turner to head the ball toward the net. Barry secured his brace moments before halftime. Rocha scored the Lions’ fourth goal in the second half after Pedro Ribeiro’s back-heel pass found the former Austin Aztex player to slot the ball in the bottom corner of the net.
Here are some more notes from Sunday’s friendly:
Rivas goes down at start of second half
Heath inserted a whole new squad in the second half, which included Colombian winger Carlos Rivas. Unfortunately, his preseason debut wouldn’t last long.
After eight minutes of play, Rivas went down clutching his left hamstring after making a run toward the ball. Rivas exited the game, and Rocha went back on to play at left wing.
“As I said last year, there’s still a lot more to come for Carlos Rivas,” Heath said. “We have not seen the best of him yet. Hopefully it’s not too bad. If it’s only a small one, which we think it is, it’s only about a week to 10 days.”
A timeline on the return of Rivas was not given, but other players that could fill in the void at left wing are Brek Shea, Kevin Molino and Rocha, among the few that Heath could select.
Barry, Rocha among several that stood out
Making their debuts in the purple kit, Barry and Rocha wasted no time in making their presence felt on the field for the Lions.
While Barry scored two goals in his first Orlando City preseason match, Rocha was the only player that saw 82 minutes on the field. After an impressive first half in which he helped orchestrate Orlando’s second goal, Rocha found the net in the second half.
“Tony is a good player,” Heath said. “I thought he played excellent. I [also] thought Mikey Ambrose was great. Richie Laryea and Hadji Barry were very, very lively. It’s been a good day, and some of the younger guys have done well.”
Team chemistry was key, according to Rocha: “What helped was the two weeks of preseason we had before this, so we have a lot of team chemistry. It seems like we’ve been playing for a while. It’s nice to finally play with each other on the field.”
Among other standouts were Laryea, Turner, Tommy Redding and Darwin Cerén.
Orlando City SC starting lineup against Eastern Florida
1st-half starting XI: Joe Bendik, Seb Hines, Aurélien Collin, Rafael Ramos, [trialist], Mikey Ambrose, Cristian Higuita, Tyler Turner, Richie Laryea, Tony Rocha, Hadji Barry
2nd-half starting XI: Earl Edwards Jr., Kevin Alston, David Mateos, Tommy Redding, Luke Boden, Harrison Heath, Servando Carrasco, Adrian Winter, Darwin Ceren, Carlos Rivas, Pedro Ribeiro
Shea was not present on Sunday, but according to Heath, the winger picked up a small injury earlier this week. Heath suggested the team isn’t going to rush his return, but emphasized it’s a small issue.
Said Heath on Molino’s return: “He’s nearly there. He’s got a meeting with a specialist and the doctor this week. Hopefully, we’ll have more good news about his progress. At this moment of time, it’s not on my hands, it’s in their hands.”