Orlando City used set piece magic to make up for wasted chances in the run of play to beat Brazilian side Esporte Clube Bahia 6-1 at the Orlando Citrus Bowl in front of an announced crowd of 18,619. In the club’s final preseason match of 2016, Seb Hines was the unlikely scorer of a hat trick plus one, tallying four goals with his head off Kaká set pieces, and Pedro Ribeiro and Darwin Ceren each added a score from the run of play in a game Orlando City completely dominated.
Hines may have to register his noggin as a lethal weapon after murdering Bahia in the air all night. Orlando City has worked hard on set pieces throughout the preseason and it paid off in spades tonight with Kaká finding the English-American four times in total, with three off corners and one on a free kick.
“It’s very unlikely to score more than one in a game, so to score four, I’m very proud and happy to do so,” Hines said. “It just fell on my head. It was great delivery from Ricky. I just tried to get my head on everything that came into the box. Lucky for me it went in the back of the net. I would like to save some for the league but you can’t pick and choose.”
Adrian Heath opened up with a 4-3-2-1 formation — a change from his preferred 4-2-3-1 — with Joe Bendik in goal and a back four of Brek Shea, David Mateos, Hines, and Rafael Ramos. The three-man central midfield featured Servando Carrasco tucked in behind Ribeiro and Ceren, with an attacking midfield of Kaká and Kevin Molino behind the lone striker, Cyle Larin.
The midfield played fluidly throughout the game, changing positions, and shape, and confounding Bahia with their movement. Molino was a danger man throughout the match but despite several outstanding set-ups, none of his teammates could finish for him. Molino, who played 45 minutes against Fort Lauderdale in the midweek, was the only player subbed out, leaving in the 60th minute for Adrian Winter.
Bahia took the lead just 52 seconds into the match when defender Hayner sent a through ball to Ze Roberto, who split the Lions’ center backs with pace and fired a shot that Bendik got a piece of but could not keep out. Before the crowd had even settled in, the Brazilian side had a 1-0 lead.
It didn’t last long. Orlando City settled into the game and started earning free kicks and corners all over the offensive third. The Lions pulled level at the 12′ mark. Kaká sent a corner to the far post that Hines nodded home from a severe angle to knot the score at 1-1.
Bahia Head Coach Doriva, who was a teammate of Hines at Middlesbrough once upon a time, said through a translator that Hines gave his team problems because he’s tall and attacks the ball in the air well. He said tonight’s struggles against the Orlando center back will give his team something to work on going forward.
It was the beginning of a mostly dominant half for Orlando City, which certainly should have been ahead at the half instead of level at 1-1. Larin had two outstanding chances to score, chipping just over the bar after taking a heavy touch trying to settle it in the box at 27 minutes, and then blasting well high just three minutes later, after Ribeiro’s pass had given the Canadian international a sitter. At 33 minutes, Kaká was sent in beautifully by Molino but keeper Marcelo Lomba got a touch on it and sent it inches wide. Molino also set up Ceren in the box but Lomba came out and smothered the Salvadoran’s attempt.
Hines’ second of the game gave the Lions a 2-1 lead in the 58th minute, cutting across the top of the six-yard box to finish Kaká’s corner cross. In the 71st minute he completed his hat trick despite being held initially. He broke free on a cross that may have gone in without his assistance, as Kaká’s corner had a wicked bend on it that might have been an Olimpico if not for Hines’ touch.
The fourth came on a free kick earned by Larin just outside the box to the left of the Bahia keeper in the 86th minute. A low, hard cross was thumped into the net by a charging Hines to make it 5-1, as Ribeiro had made it 4-1 just eight minutes earlier after collecting a blocked attempt by Larin and left-footing it past second-half Bahia keeper Jean.
“When the fourth went in I couldn’t believe it, to be honest,” Hines said, who added that he probably hasn’t scored that many goals in a game since he was 13.
Ceren closed the scoring in the 88th minute with a chip off a bad Bahia turnover.
Bahia had trouble generating much after its first-minute goal. Aside from a few long-distance attempts, they rattled the bar late, already down several goals. There was another chance off a Ceren turnover for Bahia but the shot went wide.
Hines said the off-season work on the set pieces was key to the win and to his big night.
“It’s massive,” he said. “We have a big side, so the gaffer emphasizes how important set pieces are, attacking and defending. He’s made it clear that he wants more goal this season and it can help the strikers if us defenders and other players on the field can get more goals from set pieces.”
Heath was measured after the big win.
“Obviously delighted with the scoreline,” he said. “I thought there was a lot of good stuff and a lot of stuff we’ve got to work on.”