Orlando City Soccer Club separated itself at the top of USL PRO with a 2-1 win against the Charleston Battery on Saturday night at the Florida Citrus Bowl. Jean Alexandre, currently with the Lions on loan from Major League Soccer's San Jose Earthquakes, scored his first goal for the club just seven minutes into the match, while it was Jamie Watson who scored the game-winner in the second half.
"I'm pleased for the players because they worked really hard this week," said Orlando City Head Coach Adrian Heath. "It's the result they deserved after a hard week of practice."
Orlando City (8-1-2) opened the first half strongly, attacking the Battery's back line for most of the opening 45 minutes. Opportunities came early as well, with their first proper chance resulting in a goal. Defender Jerome Mechack served a cross from the right side to a streaking Alexandre, and the Haitian international dove and headed it past Andrew Dykstra to give Orlando an early 1-0 lead.
Charleston (7-3-0) got back into the match before halftime with a strike from midfielder Nicki Paterson. After a Battery corner, an Orlando City defender's clearance fell short and found Paterson with a clear lane in front of him. The midfielder hit the deflection first time, blasting a volley in the upper-right corner to tie the match 1-1, his league-leading sixth of the season.
The Lions took the lead for good in the 57th minute through Watson, however, as Jerome laid a cross into a group of players. The ball bounced around the crowd, and found the midfielder just inside the penalty area, where the Dallas native launched his shot into the upper left corner, giving Orlando a 2-1 lead.
The match continued to be a back-and-forth affair as Charleston pushed for an equalizer, even until the last seconds of stoppage time. Charleston's Dane Kelly found himself one-on-one with Orlando goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo in the 90th minute, only for his shot to go inches wide of the right post. Alexandre nearly scored a second late in the match, but saw his bending shot hit the crossbar.
The win puts the Lions five points clear in the USL PRO standings. The win is also Orlando's fourth consecutive against Charleston as City moved to 5-1-0 all-time against their rival the Battery.