MELBOURNE, FL — Orlando City B ended its inaugural home season tonight, falling to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds,2-0. A first-half goal by the visitors and a late goal by former Lion Corey Hertzog allowed the Riverhounds to leave Titan Soccer Complex with all three points.
OCB had several opportunities in the first half, which usually consisted of Michael Cox setting up Hadji Barry. However, Barry was unable get any shots on goal in the first half. In the 11th minute, Barry found himself in on goal and behind the defense but the ball got caught in his feet, resulting in a Pittsburgh clearance.
Pittsburgh broke the deadlock in the 24th minute. Carrying the ball into the box, Ryan Adeleye played it on the ground as he fell to the turf. Coming into the play was Chevaughn Walsh, who caused problems for the Lions during his 71 minutes on the field. His first touch guided the ball past Mark Ridgers and into the OCB net, lifting the visitors to a 1-0 lead.
OCB nearly equalized in the 55th minute. With Pierre Da Silva away on international duty with the United States U-19 national team, Craig Nitti took the free kick from just outside of the box. But his curling shot hit the outside of the net, keeping the Lions' deficit at one.
Nitti had another opportunity nine minute later. A short corner went back to Antonio Matarazzo who sent the ball into the box. Nitti lifted above the crowd and headed the ball toward goal, but the ball went just over the bar.
In the 78th minute, it was Matarazzo who had the chance. Zach Hayden took the ball toward the Pittsburgh end line and was taken down for an OCB free kick. The ensuing kick by Andrew Ribeiro was played on the ground toward Matarazzo at the top of the box. But the defender swung and missed, seeing another opportunity go by the wayside.
OCB looked to have its opportunity in the 88th minute. As Hayden played the ball into the box, Pittsburgh's Adeleye went to clear. But the 29-year-old defender tripped over the ball and appeared to handle it. Despite the team, and the fans, pleading for a penalty, referee Matthew Miscannon pointed to the corner.
With time winding down, OCB sent everyone forward as the Lions searched for an equalizer. The numbers forward allowed Pittsburgh's Kevin Kerr to clear to a waiting Hertzog, who was beyond all OCB defenders on his own side of the field. With Ridgers the only defender between Hertzog and goal, the striker carried the ball about 70 yards toward the OCB goal. With Marius Obekop closing in and Ridgers coming out, Hertzog slid the ball past Ridgers and into the OCB net sealing the 2-0 win for the away team.
"I thought we played really well to be honest," OCB Head Coach Anthony Pulis said following the game. "I thought we controlled the game for 75, 80 minutes. Apart from a 10-minute spell maybe midway through the first half, where they had a sustained spell of possession. Other than that, we had them camped in and just lacked that killer instinct."
One positive from the loss was the 45 minutes played by midfielder Harrison Heath. The 20-year-old had become a regular in the first team before suffering an MCL sprain on July 13 against the New York Red Bulls. After appearing in three games for OCB as he continues his recovery, he didn’t feature in last week’s loss to the Richmond Kickers. But the midfielder returned tonight to play another 45 impressive minutes.
"I thought H did well tonight," Pulis said of Heath. "Pleased to see him back from injury and probably the best he's been for us in a while. He connected passes, got on the ball, tried to get us playing, so I'm pleased that he got 45 minutes under his belt."
Tonight's loss keeps OCB at 32 points out of the first 26 games — good enough for eighth in the USL's Eastern Conference. The Lions are currently five points ahead of the City Islanders for that final spot, with the Islanders having played one game more. With the home schedule behind them, the Lions will end the regular season on a four-game road trip, traveling to Wilmington, Toronto, Cincinnati, and Bethlehem.
That trip begins Wednesday at Wilmington at 7 p.m.
Starting XI: Ridgers; Donovan, McFadden, Nitii, Hayden; Heath (Matarazzo, 46'), Neal (c) (Mendoza, 39'), Ribeiro; Laryea (Obekop, 75'), Barry, Cox
Unused Subs: Stajduhar, Turner, D. Garcia, Smith
Goals: PIT - Walsh (24'), Hertzog (90'+2)
Yellow Cards: ORL - Ribeiro (16'), Heath (44'), McFadden (75') PIT - Adeleye (81')