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Orlando City B

Orlando City B at New York Red Bulls II: Match Preview and How to Watch



If the young Lions of Orlando City’s USL reserve squad can keep their streak of dramatic, stoppage time winners going, they’ll deserve some kind of team-specific nickname. Cardiac Cubs maybe?

Orlando City B (8-6-7, 31 points) will find itself in a similar position to where it was a couple of weeks ago tonight when it takes on the second place New York Red Bulls II (13-3-5, 44 points) at 7 p.m. ET in Harrison, N.J. from Red Bull Arena. Two weeks ago OCB took on first place Louisville City on the road and came away with all three points after two stoppage-time goals propelled the team to a 2-1 lead, which is a result the young Lions would love to duplicate tonight. Momentum should be behind the boys in purple, as that win in Louisville was the first of two straight dramatic 2-1 victories. The other came last week at home against Toronto FC II, when leading scorer Michael Cox scored late in stoppage time to reclaim the victory that looked lost just a minute earlier after TFCII had scored.

The Red Bulls have been in a fight for first place with Louisville City all year. With two games in hand and just two points behind first place Louisville, the Baby Bulls might just be favored to finish the USL regular season as champions and head into the playoffs as the first seed, but that has been easier said than done. With Louisville losing two straight recently, opportunity struck for New York to grab first place but they couldn't seize the chance, losing two straight games themselves. However, New York has since rallied to pound the Harrisburg City Islanders 5-0 last week, and now look poised to claim the top position in the league following Louisville's draw at home on Wednesday night.

The Bulls hold quite the impressive résumé. Currently their goal differential is the highest in the league at +22, which is made up of the third-highest scoring attack and the stingiest defense in all of the USL. Leading scorer Brandon Allen sits seventh in the scoring race with nine goals, and their goal keeper Ryan Meara — who you might remember from his MLS days — has registered 44 saves.

Last Week's Lineups

OCB: Ridgers; Turner, Redding, Donovan, Hayden; Laryea, D. Garcia, Higuita, Neal; Smith, Cox

NYRBII: Rafael Diaz, Justin Bilyeu, Tim Schmoll, Zach Carroll, Mason Deeds, Speedy Williams, Dan Metzger, Florian Valot, Junior Flemmings, Brandon Allen, Anatole Abang

Keys to Victory

  • Will the Drama Continue?: Those die-hard OCB fans (you know who you are) might still be basking in the glow of two straight dramatic victories, but can the young Lions continue to pull games out after adversity strikes? Whether OCB plays another close game tonight will be a tall task, but if they are within a goal heading into the closing minutes you can't count this team out.
  • Staying Unbeaten: Those two victories have now extended OCB's unbeaten run to nine games, which has surged them up five points clear of their closest competition for the last playoff spot. A win or draw on the road here would be huge in that effort, especially considering the competition. This team is certainly capable of a positive result, though, as they drew 2-2 with the Red Bulls in their last meeting in Melbourne.
  • The Title Race: It may not be the way that OCB had wanted to be affecting the title race coming into the season, but tonight's game will have some serious implications on both the regular season championship and playoff picture. Can OCB get a win on the road to help out their purple clad cousins in Kentucky? Or will the Red Bulls assert their dominance in the league?

How to Watch

As usual, you can catch the game on the official USL YouTube page or at Be sure to tune in at 7:30 p.m. tonight.

Orlando City B

Orlando City B vs. Huntsville City FC: Final Score 5-0 as OCB Dominates at Home

OCB scored a season-high five goals in a dominant shutout win over Huntsville City FC.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B / Mark Thor

Orlando City B (4-3-3, 16 points) scored a season-high five goals in a dominant 5-0 win over winless Huntsville City FC (0-7-3, 3 points) tonight at Osceola County Stadium. Jhon Solis, Yutaro Tsukada, and Shak Mohammed gave the Young Lions a 3-0 lead before late substitute Yeiler Valencia scored a brace — his first two OCB goals.

Manuel Goldberg made two charges to the starting lineup that lost 4-3 in Columbus on May 15. Javier Otero and Tsukada returned to the second team, replacing Carlos Mercado and Favian Loyola. The back line in front of Otero was Manuel Cocca, Thomas Williams, Nabi Kibunguchy, and Alex Freeman. Imanol Almaguer and Colin Guske were the defensive midfielders behind Tsukada, Mohammed, and Solis, with Wilfredo Rivera up top.

OCB dominated this game from the opening kickoff. The Young Lions should’ve put the game away in the first half, but missed several clear-cut scoring opportunities. The Young Lions were much more clinical in the second half, scoring four of their five goals.

The Young Lions had the first chance of the game in the sixth minute. Solis sent Freeman down the right and the right back caught up to the ball before it exited play. His cross was well over the head of Rivera, but landed at the foot of Tsukada on the far side of the box. The rookie midfielder was looking for the far post on his shot but missed wide.

The visitors had their first chance of the game in the ninth minute when Jonathan Bolanos was sent long down the right. The midfielder beat Williams to the ball and his first touch was a shot, but it was right at Otero.

OCB quickly went the other way and created a chance of its own. It was Tsukada again with the shot, setting up the opportunity on his own. Creating space at the top of the box, he was looking to beat Huntsville City goalkeeper Benjamin Martino to the near post, but the shot was wide. Martino appeared to have the post covered anyway, so it was unlikely to produce a goal.

The Young Lions took the lead inside the first 15 minutes for the third consecutive game. In the 12th minute, Tsukada took on Faiz Opande, twisting and turning the defender before finding Solis in the center of the box. It was a simple finish by Solis, who only had to touch it in to give OCB the 1-0 lead.

Solis nearly scored a second two minutes later after a turnover by Huntsville City on the visitors’ own side of the field. Rivera anticipated the pass and stepped in front of it, sprinting forward with Solis to his right. Rivera played it to the midfielder, whose first touch should’ve been a shot. However, he tried to dribble around Martino, enabling defenders to get back and win the ball.

The Young Lions felt they should’ve had a penalty in the 22nd minute when Solis attempted to chip the ball between two defenders to Rivera making a run behind the back line. It hit a defender and appeared to be a possible handball, so Solis threw his arms up claiming a penalty. However, referee Gerald Flores didn’t agree. Freeman ended up with the ball and went down in the box, but that too didn’t interest Flores.

In the 26th minute, Mohammed sent a cross into the box from the left. Rivera looked like he would turn it on goal, but let it go to Solis behind him. The midfielder’s first shot was on target, but right at Martino, who blocked it away. The block went right to Freeman for a second shot, but the fullback didn’t get enough on it, and it was stopped by Martino.

The Young Lions had another good chance in the 28th minute when a foul on the Huntsville City side of the field gave them a free kick. Almaguer and Rivera stood over it, with Almaguer taking the set piece. It was headed down in the box by Cocca in front of goal with Mohammed and Freeman making runs. However, Martino was the first to reach it, ending the threat.

Freeman tried to set up Mohammed at the top of the Huntsville City box in the 31st minute and it should’ve been a second goal. The right back laid it on a tee for the attacker and Mohammed’s first touch was a shot, but he sent the attempt over the top.

That was the last play before Flores called for a hydration break due to the high temperature. When play resumed, Almaguer stole the short goal kick and shot for the far post. Unfortunately, he missed wide.

OCB had nearly all of the chances in the first half, with Huntsville City unable to create anything in the final third. However, a foul just outside of the OCB box in the 37th minute gave the visitors their first good opportunity. It didn’t result in anything as Kibunguchy headed the ball away without a shot being taken.

In the 40th minute, quick passing by Tyler Pasnik and Bolanos saw the latter play Forster Ajaga through. The striker was behind the back line and attempted to curl it inside the far post, but missed wide.

A minute later a similar play occurred when Tomas Ritondale played the ball to Oliver Wright and Ajaga was sent through again. However, the flag went up on this one for offside as Ajaga was just a bit early on his run.

Almaguer forced Martino into a save in the 42nd minute after Tsukada laid it back to him. It was a quality strike by Almaguer, who put it on target. Martino did well to block it away, giving the Young Lions a corner kick. The ball ended up back in the box and was headed down where Mohammed should’ve gotten his foot on it. He couldn’t control it enough to get a shot off and Huntsville City cleared.

Wright found Pasnik for the visitors in stoppage time at the top of the box and the midfielder took a shot at goal. He had a good look but it was a weak attempt and made for an easy save for Otero.

A minute later, Rivera took an unexpected shot from distance. The forward has taken similar attempts this season and put this one on target, but Martino caught it. That was the last chance of the half as the Young Lions went into the break with a 1-0 lead.

It was a dominant first half by OCB which finished with the advantage in shots (11-3), shots on target (6-2), corner kicks (3-0), and passing accuracy (88%-84.7%). While they led at the break, it was a disappointing 45 minutes, as the Young Lions had several opportunities to take a commanding lead.

OCB was much more clinical in the second half, and it started almost immediately after the restart.

In the 47th minute, Mohammed found Tsukada, who dribbled inside and was taken down as he played it forward for Rivera. After ensuring there was no advantage, Flores blew for a foul just outside of the box. Tsukada and Rivera stood over the ball with Tsukada taking it. The midfielder sent a shot inside the near post before Martino could get to it, giving the Young Lions a 2-0 lead.

“I have confidence with free kicks because I’ve scored two so far,” Tsukada said about his goal. “So I had the confidence and I just needed to smash it. It went well, so I’m so happy with that.”

Huntsville City had its first second-half chance in the 50th minute when Ajago won a corner kick. Isaiah Johnston sent the set piece to the near post, where Ajago was making a run. The striker got his head to the ball but sent it into the outside of the net.

In the 62nd minute, Solis sent a lovely ball forward for Mohammed. The attacker dribbled inside, looking for space for a shot, and decided to leave it for Rivera coming the other way. Rivera took a shot from distance, his second of the game, but it was right into the arms of Martino.

The Young Lions scored a third in the 65th minute when Solis took the ball away in the Huntsville City half and played Freeman forward on the right. Freeman sent a great ball in front of goal, where Mohammed beat Sangwa. It was a simple tap-in by Mohammed, who has now scored in four consecutive games and has five in the last six games.

Goldberg made his first substitution in the 69th minute as Justin Ellis came on for Rivera. During the change, Williams went down, apparently with a cramp. Kibunguchy signaled that Williams should be substituted, but the center back was able to continue. However, since it wasn’t a head injury, OCB had to play a man down for three minutes.

In the 76th minute, Guske played a long ball across the field for Freeman, but the Homegrown fullback couldn’t control it. Flores took the stoppage to pull the players off for the second half hydration break. OCB made two changes during the stoppage, replacing Tsukada and Solis with Valencia and Favian Loyola

It didn’t take long for Valencia to make his mark on the game. His pressure on Opande in the 80th minute caused a turnover. Opande recovered well, forcing Valencia to turn back and look for a teammate. However, with nobody near him, Valencia turned the defender and took a shot on goal. It was a tight angle, but he beat Martino to the far post for his first OCB goal, extending OCB’s lead to 4-0.

Shortly after the goal, Goldberg made his final two changes. Majed Abdullah and Zakaria Taifi came into the game for Freeman and Mohammed.

In the 84th minute, OCB won a free kick and it nearly resulted in another immediate impact by a substitute. Almaguer sent the set piece into the box, where Abdullah was left unmarked. He got his head to the ball in an attempt to redirect it on goal, but sent it over the top.

Huntsville City tried to get one back in the 87th minute when a shot by Bolanos was blocked out for a corner kick. Pasnik received a short set piece and dribbled into the box, shooting from a tight angle. Otero got down to block it out of play for a second corner kick. The visitors weren’t able to create another shot as a foul call in the box enabled the Young Lions to clear it away.

In the 89th minute, Bolanos sent a dangerous cross in front of goal where Jones was open. The midfielder turned the ball on target, forcing Otero into his best save of the night.

The Young Lions made it five on the other end in the 90th minute, and it was the two late substitutes combining. Loyola played a gorgeous long diagonal ball to Valencia. Sangwa tried to cut off the pass, but missed it. As a result, Valencia was able to take a similar shot to his first goal, putting it inside the far post to give his team a 5-0 lead.

The crowd chanted for more goals and the Young Lions nearly gave them one in stoppage time. Abdullah attempted to find space for a shot in the box, but it was cleared away. Ellis collected it and took a long-distance attempt, but it was right to Martino.

OCB ended the game with the advantage in shots (21-9), shots on target (13-4), and passing accuracy (89.7%-86%). The visitors had more crosses (4-3) and both teams had three corner kicks.

“Every game is a lot of learning for us because we had some chances in the first half that we were not able to score,” Goldberg said about the game. “And we know that with that start, the important thing is that the team stays positive in the second half, continues with the positive energy, and finds the goals instead of the other way around.”

It’s been a road-heavy schedule early in the season for the Young Lions. Even their first home game wasn’t a true home game, as they played at the IMG Academy in Bradenton. They’re taking advantage of the friendly confines of Osceola County Stadium, winning their last two games in Kissimmee.

The team has also seen offensive improvements in recent weeks. After scoring three goals against Atlanta United 2 in the season opener, the team has only scored multiple goals in one of the next six games. With the five goals today, the Young Lions have now scored at least three in each of their last three games, primarily coming from Mohammed, Tsukada, and Rivera.

“With time and with work, stuff starts to function,” Goldberg said about the production. “The level of the team is very even, so anybody that goes in and out is able to play. So that’s really good for us.”

“Wilfredo, Shak, and me, we combine with each other well,” Tsukada added. “It comes from, I think, the head coach Manu.”

The three points sees OCB finish the weekend in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, a point out of fourth, and three points out of third. The Young Lions will look to build on this win next Sunday evening when they travel south for a rivalry clash with Inter Miami CF II.

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Orlando City B

Orlando City B vs. Columbus Crew 2: Final Score 4-3 as OCB Loses First Road Game of 2024

OCB conceded twice in two minutes in the late stages, falling to Columbus Crew 2.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B

Orlando City B (3-3-3, 13 points) lost its first away game of the season this afternoon, falling 4-3 to Columbus Crew 2 (4-3-2, 15 points) at Field. Wilfredo Rivera and Shak Mohammed were the OCB goal scorers, while the third was an own goal by Ty Nero. Jayden Da, Chase Adams, and Gibran Rayo scored for the hosts, with the fourth being an own goal by Imanol Almaguer.

OCB Head Coach Manuel Goldberg only made one change to the team that earned a 3-1 win over New York Red Bulls II last Wednesday night. Yutaro Tsukada was out of the team after joining the first team on a short-term contract. His spot in the starting lineup went to fellow first-team attacker Favian Loyola.

The back line for the Young Lions in front of goalkeeper Carlos Mercado was Manuel Cocca, Thomas Williams, Nabi Kibunguchy, and Alex Freeman. Almaguer and Colin Guske were the defensive midfielders behind Jhon Solis, Mohammed, and Loyola with Rivera starting up top.

This will be considered three points lost for OCB. The Young Lions took an early lead in both halves and, without three poor minutes, might’ve been able to return home with all three points. They dominated the chances throughout the game and led in every major statistical category at halftime and full time. However, their inability to hold onto the two leads is something that will haunt this team as it takes an extended break.

OCB was the early aggressor, creating an attack in the opening seconds through Rivera and Loyola. However, Loyola lost possession on the right. The Young Lions restarted their attack, resulting in the first shot of the game. Solis lifted the ball into the box and Rivera met it, attempting a volley to the far post. He didn’t hit it well and the ball rolled harmlessly wide of the target.

The Young Lions created their second attack in the third minute when Mohammed made a run down the end line and attempted to send the ball across the face of goal. Crew 2 goalkeeper Stanislav Lapkes did well to get down and knock it out of play with his foot. The first corner was looking for Kibunguchy at the far post, but Adams got to it first, heading the ball over the crossbar. Rivera’s second corner kick was aiming for back-post heads again, but it went all the way across the field and out of play, ending the attack.

Crew 2 had its first chance in the ninth minute when Giogrio De Libera was sent forward to the end line. The midfielder played the ball back for Jacob Greene, who was wide open near the penalty spot. The shot got behind Mercado, but Freeman was there to clear it off the line and over the crossbar. The ensuing corner kick was cleared out without much trouble.

In the 13th minute, Nero took Loyola down hard from behind near midfield, leading to the game’s first goal. The ensuing set piece was a give-and-go between Freeman and Loyola. Sent down the right, Freeman played a great ball in front of goal, where Rivera was making a run. It only took a soft touch from the forward to tap it behind Lapkes and in to give the Young Lions the 1-0 advantage.

OCB had another shot two minutes later, but this one was much less troublesome for the hosts. Solis gained possession well outside the box and tried to find space to create an opportunity. Unfortunately, he couldn’t find anything and shot from distance. The shot was right at Lapkes, creating no problems for the goalkeeper.

The hosts found their equalizer in the 18th minute from a set piece. It started when a mishit by Adams landed at the feet of Greene at the top of the box. The midfielder shot immediately and his attempt was heading inside the post, but Mercado dove to his left to tip it wide. The ensuing corner kick was cleared and ended up with Adrian Gonzalez on the far side. It was a great cross to the opposite post, where Da outjumped Williams and headed it past Mercado to even the game at 1-1.

Da nearly had a second goal in the 22nd minute when he found enough space to take a shot at goal. The attempt took a deflection, sending it into the outside of the net. The ensuing corner kick didn’t result in anything else, keeping the game tied.

Rivera had a chance for his second in the 25th minute when he was sent forward by Loyola. The forward had Greene on his hip, but had a step on the defender. He slowed up slightly to set up his shot, enabling Greene to stick his foot in and clear it out of play.

The ensuing short corner kick fell for a second inside the six-yard box, but it was eventually cleared by Da.

Crew 2 immediately went the other way and created a chance of its own. Owen Presthus was sent down the right and played a dangerous cross into the OCB box, where Da was making a run to the back post. Fortunately, Kibunguchy slid in at the last second to knock the ball away.

A minute later, the hosts took their first lead of the day. Kibunguchy played the ball back to Mercado, who had plenty of time to find a teammate. However, he inexplicably sent the ball directly to Adams. The Crew 2 forward was calm with possession, slipping the ball past a flat-footed Mercado and giving his team a 2-1 lead.

OCB equalized in the 34th minute with a goal that was similar to the first. Freeman was sent down the right with a long ball. He had Rivera making a run into the box, but sent it to the top of the 18 instead. Mohammed was making a trailing run and did well with it, putting his first touch on target. It was close to Lapkes, but the Crew 2 goalkeeper couldn’t get to it and OCB evened the game at 2-2.

The Young Lions probably should’ve had a third in the 37th minute when Loyola made a run to the end line and sent the ball back for Rivera near the penalty spot. The forward attempted to set up for a shot, but the ball got caught in his feet. As a result, Crew 2 was able to clear.

OCB nearly took the lead in the 41st minute with a long ball down field. Rivera was attempting to run onto it, but it was too far in front of him. Fortunately, Freeman was also making a run and the right back connected with it. His shot appeared to be on target, but Lapkes came off his line and deflected the shot over the crossbar.

Two minutes into first-half stoppage time, Rivera had a chance when he was sent forward by Solis. His first touch was a shot from a tight angle, but hit the outside of the post. The forward came back from an offside position to meet the ball and the referee determined he was too late, ruling him offside.

The Young Lions had one final chance in the first half with the last touch . They were looking for a shot from just outside of the box, but Mohammed’s last touch was cleared out. However, it was a soft clearance right to Almaguer. The OCB captain fired from distance and missed just wide of the near post, resulting in the game entering halftime at 2-2.

After 45 minutes, OCB had more shots (10-5), shots on target (5-4), corner kicks (4-3), and crosses (6-2), and better passing accuracy (88.4%-85.2%). Despite creating more chances than the opposition, the Young Lions only scored twice and went to the break tied.

Crew 2 created the first chance of the second half and it was from a familiar source. Greene entered the OCB box with Freeman on his hip, but got past the right back to shoot from a tight angle. Mercado did well to cover his near post and blocked the shot, enabling Kibunguchy to clear the ball away.

OCB had its first second-half chance in the 50th minute when Loyola lifted the ball behind the Crew 2 defense where Rivera was making a run. The forward raced for the ball, attempting to beat Lapkes to it, but the Crew 2 goalkeeper got to it first.

However, in the 51st minute, OCB took its second lead of the game. Solis sent Almaguer forward and the OCB captain sent a cross into the six-yard box. The pass was behind Freeman, but Nero accidentally knocked the ball into his own net, giving the visitors a 3-2 lead.

Crew 2 quickly went the other way and created a chance off the restart. It was a strong attempt from outside of the box that appeared to be heading inside the near post, but Mercado dove to his right and tipped it wide. The ensuing corner kick was cleared by the Young Lions and they maintained their one-goal lead.

In the 57th minute, Presthus received the ball on the right and sent a dangerous low ball into the box. Williams got to it before anyone else, sending it over the crossbar for a Crew 2 corner kick. The ensuing set piece ended up with Diego Almeida outside of the box. The defender took a long distance shot, but sent it well over the target.

The Young Lions had a good chance in the 61st minute when Cocca found Mohammed making a run behind the back line. He reached the pass before he got to the end line and sent it to Freeman making a trailing run to the top of the six-yard box. The right back’s first touch was a shot with the inside of his foot, but Lapkes was there to make the stop.

OCB looked to strike on the counter attack in the 66th minute when Solis won the ball from Almeida near midfield. Solis sent Mohammed forward and the attacker attempted a shot from a tight angle, but Lapkes blocked it out of play with his leg. The ensuing corner kick by Rivera found the head of Williams, who got over the ball, but his attempt was off the crossbar.

A minute later, Rivera received the ball in the Crew 2 box. The forward dribbled across the face of goal, looking for space for a shot, but was well defended. His eventual attempt was blocked out for a corner kick. The first set piece was met by the head of Williams, but it was deflected out of play. The second corner kick found Mohammed, and he dribbled toward the end line before Almeida cleared it behind the goal. The final attempt resulted in a cross by Solis that Kibunguchy attempted to volley to the far post, but the center back missed wide.

Goldberg made his first change of the game in the 70th minute, replacing Mohammed with Yeiler Valencia.

Crew 2 found another equalizer in the 74th minute. Receiving the ball down the left, Tristan Brown sent the ball in front of goal. Almaguer attempted to clear it, but sent it into his own net instead, evening the game at 3-3.

It didn’t take long for the hosts to strike again and take their second lead. Second-half substitute Rayo had the ball in a seemingly innocuous position, with several players between him and the goal. Dribbling inside, the attacker shot from distance. It appeared as though Mercado couldn’t see the shot as he was left flat-footed, watching the ball travel inside his near post to give Crew 2 a 4-3 lead.

In the 82nd minute, Solis played a good ball forward for Valencia with space. The second-half substitute had room shoot, but it was well off target. Immediately after the miss, Goldberg made two more changes. Justin Ellis and Majed Abdullah entered the game for Rivera and Guske.

The Young Lions had a great chance to equalize again in the 86th minute when Almaguer sent a free kick to the back post. Cocca was making a run and found himself wide open. The left back attempted to put the header on goal, but sent it wide.

Before Crew 2 could restart play, Goldberg made his final change of the game, replacing Almaguer with Zakaria Taifi.

Despite being down a goal, the Young Lions weren’t able to create any shots during the four minutes of added time, falling 4-3 to Crew 2.

At full time, OCB had more shots (19-11), shots on target (8-7), corners (9-6), and crosses (9-7), and better passing accuracy (88.1%-85.6%). While they led in all statistical categories, a couple of poor minutes resulted in two goals for the hosts, turning an away win into a loss.

While OCB has already lost twice at home, this is their first loss away from Central Florida. They’re now 2-1-3 on the road and fall to seventh in the MLS NEXT Pro’s Eastern Conference after being jumped by Crew 2.

The Young Lions now have an extended break as they don’t return to the field again until Sunday, May 26. They’ll welcome Huntsville City FC to Osceola County Stadium as they look to get back on the right track.

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Orlando City B

Orlando City B vs. New York Red Bulls II: Final Score 3-1 as OCB Claims First Home Win of 2024

OCB uses two early goals to beat New York Red Bulls II.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B / Mark Thor

Orlando City B (3-2-3, 13 points) won its first home game of the 2024 MLS NEXT Pro season, 3-1 tonight over New York Red Bulls II (4-2-3, 17 points) at Osceola County Stadium. Shak Mohammed and Yutaro Tsukada both scored inside the first six minutes to give the Young Lions an early 2-0 lead, and Tsukada scored his second in the 34th minute. A second-half penalty by Ibrahim Kasule got one back for the visitors, but they couldn’t find any more.

OCB Head Coach Manuel Goldberg made two changes to the team that drew Chattanooga FC 1-1 away on Saturday. Carlos Mercado replaced Javier Otero in goal, while Alex Freeman returned to the starting lineup, sending Zakaria Taifi to the bench. The back line in front of Mercado was Manuel Cocca, Thomas Williams, Nabi Kibunguchy, and Freeman. Imanol Almaguer and Colin Guske were the defensive midfielders behind Wilfredo Rivera, Jhon Solis, and Tsukada. Mohammed started up top for the fifth consecutive game.

The Young Lions started the game as the aggressors, jumping on their opponents and taking an early two-goal lead. Mercado didn’t have much to do in goal during the first 45 minutes and only faced a couple of dangerous situations in the second half. Both teams had some bad giveaways that could’ve been devastating, but neither were able to take advantage. While New York threatened to score a second late, the Young Lions were never in danger of losing the lead.

OCB got off to the best possible start by striking just over 90 seconds after kickoff. It started with Tsukada in his own half, making a long run that included a give-and-go with Rivera. Tsukada fired from the top of the box, but hit the left post. The ball bounced right to Mohammed, who controlled it and shot with his second touch. New York goalkeeper Aidan Stokes got a hand to it, but it wasn’t enough as the striker gave the hosts the early 1-0 lead. It was his second straight match with a goal.

“Especially the first 10 minutes, we conceded the early goal the last few games,” Tsukada said about the quick start. “So we’ve been talking about the first 10 minutes to be more aggressive to get the first goal.”

It didn’t take OCB long to double its advantage, doing so in the sixth minute. Guske sent a long ball from his own half that found Tsukada at the top of the New York box. Dylan Sullivan was on the rookie, but gave up defending when he saw Stokes near the top of the box. Tsukada dribbled around the goalkeeper, making it an easy finish and giving the Young Lions a commanding 2-0 lead inside 10 minutes.

“I was trying to get in behind because I haven’t been scoring the last five games. So I was trying to score,” Tsukada said about his goal. “And then getting behind was important for me.”

The visitors had their first opportunity in the eighth minute when Omar Valencia sent a cross into the OCB box. It was headed out by Cocca, but only to Steven Sserwadda outside of the box. The midfielder sent the bouncing ball towards goal, but missed wide of the target.

New York had a second attempt in the 10th minute when Guske won the ball from Rafael Mosquera, but immediately lost possession. Frank Ssebufu quickly shot for the far post but missed wide.

In the 16th minute, Mohammed nearly scored his second of the night when Rivera forced Juan Gutierrez into a turnover by pressing him. The ball bounced right to Mohammed who only had Stokes in front of the goal. However, the striker slipped while attempting to shoot, sending the ball into the outside of the net.

Red Bulls II almost had a chance in the 21st minute when a poor tackle attempt by Kibunguchy enabled Mohammed Sofo to enter the box. Fortunately, Kibunguchy recovered well, catching up to the attacker and clearing the ball out of play. It took four consecutive corner kicks, but the final one went all the way through the box, enabling the Young Lions to clear the danger.

On the other end, OCB should’ve had a third goal when Solis dribbled to the end line and found Tsukada in the middle of the box. However, the midfielder took too many touches, enabling the New York defense to recover and win possession. Making matters worse, Tsukada had Mohammed open but couldn’t find him.

The Young Lions got their third goal in the 34th minute from a set piece. It started when Tsukada made a long run down the left and was pushed over by Bento Estrela, earning him a yellow card. Tsukada took the free kick, which deflected off a defender, catching Stokes going the wrong way and giving OCB a 3-0 lead.

Tsukada’s second of the night was an important goal, coming after a number of defensive third turnovers threatened to allow New York back into the match.

The Young Lions then created another set piece near the New York box in the 39th minute when Rivera cut back and won a foul from Gutierrez. Cocca and Tsukada stood over the ball with Cocca taking the set piece. However, his free kick was well over the target and never caused any concern for Stokes.

In the 43rd minute, Omar Valencia sent a cross towards the back post that met the head of Ssebufu, jumping over Williams. The header was over the crossbar, but New York won the goal kick back with its press and created another chance for Ssebufu. The midfielder’s second shot was further off target, missing wide.

In the final minute of first-half injury time, Sullivan’s ball into the box was cleared out by Kibugnuchy but only to Mosquera. The forward used some nifty footwork to cut back and lose Guske before getting off a shot. However, Williams got his body in the way and blocked the attempt, enabling the Young Lions to take a 3-0 lead into halftime.

After 45 minutes, New York had more shots (8-7), corners (5-2), and crosses (6-2) than the hosts, but OCB had more shots on target (3-2) and better passing accuracy (89.8%-85.7%). Most importantly, all of OCB’s shots on frame went in as the Young Lions took a three-goal lead into the break.

Goldberg made two changes at halftime, one defensive and one offensive. Abdi Salim replaced Williams at center back and Justin Elliis replaced Rivera in the attack.

Red Bulls II created the first chance of the second half in the 51st minute when Kasule drew a foul just outside of the OCB box. Three attackers stood over the ball, but it was Sofo who took the set piece. However, he sent it directly into the wall, enabling OCB to clear.

The visitors found their first goal of the night in the 55th minute when Sofo dribbled across the box. Guske charged in with an ill-advised challenge from behind, taking down the attacker. Referee Russell Miller immediately pointed to the spot, awarding New York a penalty.

Kasule stepped up to take the penalty, doing so with confidence. As Mercado dove to his right, Kasule put the spot kick into the opposite top corner. It was an excellent penalty that Mercado couldn’t have reached even if he had guessed correctly. As a result, the OCB lead was cut to 3-1.

In the 63rd minute, Tsukada attempted to take on a double team consisting of Sullivan and Sserwadda after receiving a long ball by Cocca. Sullivan defended the midfielder well, winning the ball and tapping it to Sserwadda. However, Cocca quickly won it back and took a shot towards the far post. There was no way Stokes was going to reach the attempt, but the shot missed just wide.

The Young Lions felt they should’ve had a penalty in the 65th minute when Tsukada received a long ball forward from Guske. He played it inside for the oncoming Mohammed, who slipped while attempting to send his first touch inside the far post. The ball bounced off of Gutierrez and the OCB players thought it was a hand ball, but Miller determined otherwise.

Sofo attempted an ambitious shot in the 69th minute that would’ve been the goal of the season. It started when Sserwadda chipped the ball into the box for Kasule. The New York goal scorer found Sofo in the middle and the attacker turned and volleyed the ball. However, he wasn’t able to get over it, sending the attempt over the target.

Tsukada made an excellent run into the New York box in the 71st minute and nearly scored a fantastic goal. He had one man to beat, but Aidan O’Connor stood tall and made the stop as the last defender. Almaguer took control of the clearance and found Tsukada, again defended by O’Connor. The midfielder went down and OCB felt a penalty should have been called, but Miller only told Tsukada to get up.

Shortly after the play, Goldberg made his third change of the game as Favian Loyola replaced Solis.

New York nearly cut the deficit to one in the 74th minute when quick passing saw Tanner Rosborough with the ball on the right. The second-half substitute sent a low cross that went just past the sliding Salim and found Sofo right in front of goal. Mercado hadn’t been challenged much in this game, but stood his ground and blocked the shot.

OCB’s fourth substitution came in the 77th minute during the second-half hydration break, with Diego Pareja entering the game for Guske.

In the 80th minute, a mistake in the OCB box nearly resulted in a second goal for New York. It began with an innocuous free kick by Cocca back to Mercado. The goalkeeper sent a short pass forward to Almaguer, but the OCB captain couldn’t control it. Rosborough got to the ball first and played it over for Sofo, who took a shot. Fortunately, Mercado was there to make the stop.

An 81st-minute free kick in OCB’s own half nearly ended in a fourth goal when Almaguer played it forward for Freeman and the defender sent Loyola down the right. The substitute made a perfect pass between two defenders to Mohammed, sending the forward into the box. Mohammed attempted to guide the ball inside the far post with his first touch, but missed wide.

Freeman had a chance in the 84th minute when Loyola, after a give-and-go with Mohammed, played the ball into the middle of the field for Ellis. Rather than taking it himself, Ellis laid it off for Freeman making an overlapping run. The right back attempted a shot from a tight angle, but missed wide of the far post.

On the field for less than 10 minutes, Pareja went down in the 85th minute and required attention. Instead of going down a man while trying to keep the lead, per MLS NEXT Pro rules for lengthy injuries, Goldberg made his final substitution, replacing Pareja with Taifi.

Red Bulls II had a great chance at a second in the 88th minute when a ball across the box was just missed by Kasule and ended up with Juan Mina. The substitute sent the ball back across, which Mercado blocked with his leg. However, it only went to Rosborough right in front of goal. He tried to turn and put a shot inside the post, but missed wide.

The fourth official showed seven minutes of stoppage time and New York continued its attack. In the third minute, Sserwadda found Curtis Ofori at the top of the OCB box. The first touch by Ofori was a shot towards goal that sailed just over the crossbar. That was the last chance for the visitors as the Young Lions held on for the 3-1 win.

New York created more chances than OCB, ending the game with more shots (19-12) and shots on target (5-4). The Red Bulls also had more corners (6-4) and crosses (15-7). Meanwhile, the Young Lions had better passing accuracy (88.4%-85.5%).

The game was won on two early goals, a reversal from what OCB has been dealing with this season. The Young Lions have conceded inside the first 11 minutes in four of their first seven games and inside the first 10 minutes in their last two. Rather than being put on the back foot early, they put the opposition in that position tonight, something Goldberg was happy about.

“It was good to hit the first punch today. So finally we were able to overcome that,” Goldberg said about scoring early. “We were getting scored on in the first minutes, now we were able to reverse that. So that’s a really good point. It feels really good, mainly for them, because they had the attitude that we’ve been talking about. They did it by themselves. It was them. They are the protagonists. They are the ones responsible for the things. For the good things. So, very happy for that.”

The win is OCB’s first at home this season (1-2-0). That includes the game against Inter Miami II at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, which was officially a home game. The three goals equals the most the Young Lions have scored in a game this season, with the other being their 3-2 win away to Atlanta United 2 on March 16 in the season opener.

OCB is off this weekend before hitting the road with another weekday matchup. This one will be an afternoon affair at Columbus Crew 2 Wednesday, May 15 at noon.

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