The Orlando City Cup is a modest tournament relying heavily on Orlando City teams to fill out the brackets. Our U-15 team was moved up to the eight team U-16 bracket for the weekend. The format was simple. Win the group and play a final on Sunday at 2pm.
Our first match was against FC America’s U-16 team. They were superior in athleticism, but not soccer. Unfortunately, we seemed intent on playing a game suited to their talents and not ours. We held the ball and tried to run at and through them to no avail. The game was uncomfortably tight, but we prevailed 1-0 primarily due to a passage of play in the first half where we moved the ball quickly and sent a player through to score.
As I have written recently, we have dined on a steady diet of bad soccer teams. The result is a mild hero complex that encourages our players to hold the ball longer to shoe their skill against inferior players. It does not serve the team or the individual as it develops habits and timing that are exposed against superior competition.
Our second game against Lake County GOSA was a bit better. We won 3-0 against a very mediocre team to set up a win/tie scenario to advance to the final against a U-16 Florida Rush team. Our goalie Jake Gerard was unavailable due to injury and right back Tyler White was pressed into emergency service. The Rush were not a great team, but good enough to make us pay for slow, selfish play. For most of the game they had us on the back foot and we looked challenged to score. It was a tense and entertaining game even at 0-0. The gritty draw put us in the final against GOSA Boca Juniors, who survived two red cards in their final group game to reach the final.
Both teams were without their normal goalkeepers, and down a few field players due to injury. The final was expected to be a physical clash, but played out as a cagey affair decided by one goal early in the second half on a terrific cross.
Orlando City hoisted the Cup and benefited from a weekend of close competitive games. Well done.