ORLANDO — Orlando City fielded a team of future prospects, young players and a few veterans against the New England Revolution — and still managed to put on a show Wednesday.
The Lions blasted the Revs 6-2 in Orlando City Stadium to claim the inaugural Orlando City Invitational title.
Orlando City’s starting XI was completely different from the one that scored two goals in the first half of a 2-1 victory Saturday over NYCFC. Wednesday night’s lineup featured a 17-year-old SIMA Gold player at left back in Hamady Diop and 22-year-old OCB centerback Matheus Silva.
Other young players in the lineup included Orlando City first-team players Josué Colmán, Cam Lindley, MLS SuperDraft pick Santiago Patiño and Homegrown signing Benji Michel. OCB players Jordan Bender and Ates Diouf and SIMA Gold player Moussa Sabaly were eventually subbed on in the second half.
“I think we’re trying to be very intentional about making sure we are one club,” Orlando City coach James O’Connor said. “Whatever level somebody’s representing Orlando City at, they’re part of the family and that’s something that we’re going to keep driving home.
“Players in the academy, we want to know their names. We want to know all about them. We want them to feel a part of the football club. We feel we’ve got the best supporters, by a country mile, in the league. So, for us, we have an opportunity to create something really special here, and we’re pretty determined that we’re going to go ahead and do that.”
Even with the youngsters running around, veteran midfielder Uri Rosell was involved with both of Orlando City’s first-half goals. First, he converted from the penalty spot in the 29th minute; the penalty kick was earned after a Revs handball in the penalty area. And then he forced an own goal three minutes later to double Orlando City’s advantage.
Rosell’s low cross was on its way to midfielder Cristian Higuita. Revs defender Brandon Bye tried to knock the ball out for a corner, but instead sent it into the back of his own net, giving the Lions a 2-0 lead in the 32nd minute.
Rosell said he tried to be an encouraging presence for the younger players.
“I think we are [on a] great path,” Rosell said. “We played two games. Almost two different teams and both won, so that means that we have a lot of depth, which is good for a long run. And, of course, when you’re that close to the start of the season, you can feel that we are in good shape.”
The Lions were on fire in the second half.
Orlando City scored four goals in less than 10 minutes to bury the Revolution and ensure a comfortable victory. For the second consecutive match, the Lions had options for the man with the ball, and five of the six goals were set up by a solid pass.
Lindley set up Colmán in the 47th minute. Rosell played a through ball to Patiño two minutes later. Colmán’s pass to Higuita led to a fifth goal just a minute after that. The only goal that wasn’t directly set up by a perfect pass was Dillon Powers’ goal from the penalty spot, and the penalty was earned by Michel.
There were a couple of opportunities for the Lions to add another goal — Colmán nearly set up Michel for a seventh goal in the 75th minute — but after the 10-minute barrage, the Lions’ attack couldn’t generate another score.
“We’ve been training hard and all of this is paying off,” Patiño said. “Every chance we got, we put it away, and that’s how we’re going to kill teams.”
The Revs got a goal back in the 81st minute. Forward Teal Bunbury headed home a cross from Revolution academy product Scott Caldwell. Bunbury added another goal shortly before time expired.
“I think that there’s so many positives that we’ll be able to draw upon, which is really encouraging,” O’Connor said. “I think the movement, the understanding of space, was excellent. There was quite a few things that we could be pleased about.”
With a quick laugh, O’Connor added, “Again, it’s preseason. For us, it’s fantastic to have the level of performance, considering we changed out the whole XI. To get that performance is excellent.”