MELBOURNE, FL — Orlando City B returned home Saturday and drew with the Charlotte Independence, 1-1. An early lead for the visitors was erased by Michael Cox just as the second half got underway but neither side could find a winner.
The first half was one to forget for OCB. While the Lions had a few chances throughout the first 45 minutes, Charlotte dominated the half. The Independence struck in the 24th minute, when a Caleb Calvert ball into the box caused problems for the OCB defense. With OCB goalkeeper Mark Ridgers and center back Devron Garcia converging on the ball, the two collided, allowing striker Brian Brown to tap in the finish.
"Charlotte caused us problems in the first half. I have to give credit to them," OCB Head Coach Anthony Pulis said after the match. "I thought they moved the ball well, they had good rotation in midfield, and they caused us some problems. And we weren't really at the races. I thought we were probably 10 yards off the pace a little bit."
OCB’s best chance of the first half came right at the end. Mikey Ambrose sent a cross into the box which fell to Richie Laryea near the back post. But Laryea’s shot went well over the bar.
The Lions came out strong in the second half and immediately put the visitors on their heels. Just seconds into the second half, Ridgers cleared a ball well over midfield to a sprinting Cox, who was in on goal. With three defenders bearing down on him, Cox fired on goal but Charlotte goalkeeper John Berner was able to make the save.
Less than a minute later it was Cox again. This time Zach Hayden was able to get down the wing and send the ball in for the striker. Cox's first touch pushed the ball past Berner for the equalizing goal.
"As a whole, we all came out more energized," Cox said about the attacking start to the second half. "We're down a goal and we knew we had to try something to get something out of the game."
OCB had a lot more attacking possession throughout the second half. In the 69th minute, Mikey Ambrose sent a cross across the top of the six-yard box for an oncoming Johnny Mendoza, but the midfielder couldn’t get the touch for the team’s second goal. They nearly scored a winner again in the 87th minute, but Conor Donovan couldn’t direct his header on goal hard enough and Berner made the stop.
The increased possession in the second half saw the Lions attempt to attack from the outside with Pierre Da Silva, Mikey Ambrose, Richie Laryea, Zach Hayden, and later, Tyler Turner. However, slightly slow play through the midfield resulted in multiple offside calls. The runs that did result in crosses weren't able to find the intended target before being gathered by Berner.
"The second half we were better," Pulis said. "Obviously we got the goal really early [in the second half]. I thought, ‘well this is brilliant. Maybe this gives us the impetus and we can get try and get the winner', and it just wasn't to be. I thought tonight, on the balance of play, a draw was a fair result. "
The draw moves the Lions to 22 points in their first 16 games and keeps them seventh in the USL's Eastern Conference. OCB now goes on a two-game road trip to Rochester and Charleston before returning home on July 24 to take on the Wilmington Hammerheads.
Starting XI: Ridgers; Hayden, D. Garcia, Donovan, Ambrose; Mendoza (Turner, 83'), Ribeiro (c), Rocha, Laryea (Obekop, 77'), Da Silva, Cox
Unused Subs: Fenlason, McFadden, Matarazzo, A. Garcia, Eyang
Goals: OCB - Cox (47') CLT - Brown (24')
Yellows: OCB - Ambrose (40'), Rocha (67') CLT - Martinez (51'), Hilton (54'), Clowes (72')