ORLANDO, Fla. – FC Dallas overcame stiff opposition from USL-Pro side Orlando City to take a 1-0 victory in the opener of the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic on Thursday night at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
Colombian forward Milton Rodriguez scored the only goal of the game in the 30th minute and FC Dallas made it hold up and will face the winner of the Houston Dynamo vs. Toronto FC match on Saturday at 8 pm ET (live stream on ESPN3.com).
If FC Dallas were looking for a competitive preseason match, they had their hands full with Orlando City, who put forth a spirited performance in front of the local crowd. The third-division team was well-organized and applied good pressure, giving the MLS side little time on the ball. Reigning MLS MVP David Ferreira was an especially marked man and the target of several fouls throughout the match.
As was the case for most of 2010, FC Dallas played in their 4-1-4-1 formation and were at their most lethal on the counter.
Orlando City also threatened on a handful of occasions in the first half but were thwarted by FCD goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, who already looks in midseason form. He made a spectacular diving save on a dipping, curling shot expertly executed by Orlando left winger Lewis Neal in the 23rd minute. Neal, along with former FC Dallas player Jamie Watson on the opposite right side, were the most dangerous players for Orlando.
The best plays in attack for FCD came from the initiative of winger Brek Shea, who switched flanks with Marvin Chavez throughout the opening 45 minutes. He also had the key assist on the 30th minute goal as he headed a Ferreira corner kick at the far post, serving up Rodríguez with the easy tap-in near the goal line for the eventual game-winner.
Facing injuries to their starting center backs, Ugo Ihemelu and George John, FC Dallas manager Schellas Hyndman moved Shea to center back to start the second half and shifted Eric Alexander to left wing. Shea, who starred at the position for the Generation adidas team in Spain, looked extremely comfortable and performed well on the back line.
FCD academy product Ruben Luna also came on for Rodríguez in the second half and hit the crossbar just seven minutes after the break following a good combination in the box with Alexander. Luna was also foiled in the 68th minute as he was beat to a Chávez cross by Orlando defender Demar Stewart, who made a second spectacular block on the goal line on a point-blank shot by Alexander in the 81st minute.
Orlando City’s best opportunities to equalize came in the 60th minute on a penetrating run in the box by forward Maxwell Griffin, who appealed for a penalty kick after falling on a challenge by central defender Scott Gordon. However, Referee Edvin Jurisevic did not oblige.
Ten minutes later, Orlando came close again with a Watson cross from the right drifting just wide of the far post for the last real threat of the match at Hartman’s goal.
DAL – Rodríguez (Shea, Ferreira) 30’
ORL – Boden, caution (20')
ORL – Bernard, caution (41’)
DAL – Hernandez, caution (43')
DAL – Benítez, caution (71')
FC Dallas: Kevin Hartman – Jair Benitez, Zach Loyd (46’ Andrew Jacobson), Scott Gordon, Jackson Goncalves – Brek Shea, Eric Alexander (83’ Eric Avila), Daniel Hernandez, Marvin Chávez (87’ Bobby Warshaw) – David Ferreira (85’ Bruno Guarda) – Milton Rodríguez (46’ Ruben Luna, 74’ Maykel Galindo)
Orlando City: Miguel Gallardo (46’ Sean Kelley) – Jose Burciaga Jr. (54’ Mechack Jerome), Kieron Bernard, Demar Stewart, Jack Traynor – Lewis Neal, Luke Boden, Yordany Álvarez, Jamie Watson – Ian Fuller (64’ Justin Fojo), Maxwell Griffin
Referee: Edvin Jurisevic
Assistant Referees: Kermit Quisenberry, Corey Parker
Fourth Official: Kyle Longville