September 8th, 2013 8:25 AM by Brent Ferry
Lions Capture 2013 USL PRO Championship in front of 20,886 Franchise, league record crowd watch Dwyer score four goals in 7-4 Championship victory over Charlotte Eagles
ORLANDO, Fla.- Forward Dom Dwyer notched a single game club-record four goals, Dennis Chin and Adama Mbengue added the final three goals as the Lions captured the 2013 USL PRO Championship in front of 20,886 fans at Fifth Third Bank Field at the Florida Citrus Bowl. The attendance is an all-time record for the club and USL PRO, beating the last mark by upwards of 9,800 fans.
“To play in front of more than 20,000 tonight was amazing,” said Orlando City Head Coach Adrian Heath. “It’s a little bit surreal because I’ve never been involved in a game like that in my life (scoring 7 goals).“
Orlando began the match on the offensive, attacking the Charlotte backline with the dual threat of Forwards Dennis Chin and Dom Dwyer. The Lions began to break through as the early part of the match wore on, with chances by Chin and Midfielder Christian Duke nearly converting into the back of the net.
But it was Charlotte who struck first, with Stephen Okai heading in a corner in the 20th minute to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead. Okai, who found space in the scrum around goal, whipped his attempt past Goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo for the 1-0 lead.
Orlando didn’t take long to respond, with Dwyer converting the goal for the Lions in the 35th minute. Chin found the striker after getting caught up just outside the 6-yard box, with Dwyer blasting it in the lower right corner to tie the match at 1-1.
Dwyer, who only had one training session with the club in preparation for the match, notched Orlando’s second in the 41st minute- with the assist this time coming from Defender Erik Ustruck. After finding space, Ustruck found Dwyer on the near-post- charging past three defenders for the second goal of the night.
Charlotte immediately responded with a goal of their own just two minutes later, with Eagles Forward Christian Ramirez equalizing after a quick ball was played across the 6-yard box. The two teams went into halftime tied at 2-2.
The Eagles were the first one to take advantage as the second half began, with another Ramirez goal putting Charlotte up 3-2. A long ball caught Orlando by surprise, with the striker slotting it past Gallardo for the advantage in the early portion of the second half.
The back and forth affair continued as Dwyer scored a hat-trick on his penalty conversion in the 52nd minute. Mbengue was taken down insde the penalty area by Charlotte’s Harding- with Dwyer converting for the 3-3 equalizer.
Dwyer continued his scoring in the 69th minute, with Anthony Pulis on the assist to again give the Lions the advantage. Pulis whipped his corner, finding the England native for a 4-3 lead. Chin added the fifth of the night just a minute later, with the speedy striker blasting one home inside the 18 yard mark for the 5-3 advantage.
Adama Mbengue scored Orlando’s sixth while Charlotte’s Christian Meza put the club within two goals in the 88th minute- but it was too little too late as Chin notched a brace with a wonderfully placed ball with minutes remaining in the game. The seven-goal mark tied the club’s all-time single game scoring amount in USL PRO play, which was set earlier in the year against Antigua Barracuda FC.
The attendance mark Saturday night shattered the club’s former mark of 11,220 set in the 2011 USL PRO Championship Game by more than 9,800 fans. The attendance also set a new USL PRO record.