Kevin Molino helped Orlando City SC clinch a playoff spot for the fourth consecutive year with a double strike, when they crushed the Charlotte Eagles 4-1 on Saturday.
Molina followed up strikes from Dennis Chin and Tyler Turner with two goals in the space of 10 minutes in the second half at ESPN Wide World of Sports to allow City to extend their home unbeaten streak in USL PRO play to 16 while maintaining the Lions’ lead at four points in the league standings.
“We expected to make the playoffs, but it’s still nice to do it,” said Orlando City head coach Adrian Heath after the 4-1 win. “I thought the performance was a lot better than it has been in the past.
“We have to continue to play at our maximum because we can’t afford to play 75-80 per cent and expect to win,” he said.
Molino boosted his league aggregate to 13 and is in second place for most goals in the USL PRO behind Richmond Kicker’s striker Matthew Delicate.
After a relatively slow start to the match, Dennis Chin ended an Orlando scoring drought with a tally in the final minute of the first half, logging his sixth goal of the 2014 campaign.
The goal resulted from a good build-up by City’s front three, consisting of Adama Mbengue, Chin and Molino.
Chin drifted inside and found the Trinidadian, who released Mbengue in the box for a clear chance on goal. Charlotte goalkeeper Alec Kahn’s save on the Senegalese midfielder’s bullet landed in Chin’s path, setting up a clinical finish from 12 yards away.
Tyler Turner’s header in the 48th minute from a free kick after Mbengue was brought down just outside the area marked the 18-year-old’s first professional goal and gave City a 2-0 lead. The right back got on the end of Darwin Ceren’s free kick, nodding the ball home from the back post.
Molino then took centre stage, calmly slotting away a penalty for his first goal before coordinating a moment of brilliance for his brace.
The referee pointed to the spot for the penalty in the 49th minute when Brian Spann was hacked down in the box, resulting in Juan Guzman being shown a red card.
Molino’s second goal of the game was a special finish, displaying the confidence the 24-year-old carries in his game.
After making a piercing run in behind the Eagles’ defence, City’s first Major League Soccer signee effortlessly chipped the ball over Charlotte’s keeper Alec Kahn who was charging off his line.
Charlotte pulled one back in the 75th minute when striker Wells Thompson scored a cracking effort off the crossbar.