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Orlando City B

Orlando City B vs. FC Cincinnati: Final Score 1-1 as Young Lions Draw Red Hot Cincinnati



Orlando City B (5-6-5, 20 points) returned home tonight for the first time since June 7, against an FC Cincinnati (5-5-6, 21 points) team that has been making headlines for its impressive U.S. Open Cup wins. Jordan Schweitzer opened his OCB account with an early goal, but the visitors bounced back to earn a draw, in front of an announced crowd of 980.

“I want to start off by giving Cincinnati huge credit,” OCB Head Coach Anthony Pulis said. “For them to perform like that, two days after playing 120 minutes against Chicago in the Open Cup is fantastic. For the most part I was pleased. We spoke and we worked on a press for the past couple of days. I thought the guys executed well, for the most part, and the disappointing thing for me was that we gifted them a goal.”

Pulis made just three changes to his side that beat Rochester last week. Youmeni Jules, Scott Thomsen, and Joe Gallardo made way for Zach Ellis-Hayden, Jordan Schweitzer, and Austin Martz.  

The game started out hot for Orlando City B and the Lions took the game right at Cincy. In the third minute, Martz put a low cross into the box. Schweitzer came out of nowhere to get on the end of it and his curling shot found the back post, as he opened up his account. Mitch Hildebrandt could only watch as his team went down a goal.

“It was something that we worked on in training,” Schweitzer said of the goal. “We noticed that they drop off and don’t track runs in the midfield. So, it’s something that we work on in the training ground, and it comes off well there and it’s a good little combination, and a play by Austin [Martz]. My goal was just to try to get something on it, and try to get it on frame, and it goes in.”

After going up a goal, Pulis’ side became very compact defensively, and it was clear that the plan was to secure a shutout. Every time that a Cincinnati player got on the ball, two or three Lions were right there to disrupt the attack and win the ball back. When in possession, the young Lions played a patient game, aiming to control the ball. Much of the play was horizontal as they worked their way up the field. 

Edwards nearly gifted the visitors a goal in the 13th minute. Hines played the ‘keeper a pass, and Edwards made a mess of it, opting to hit the ball first time. The ball went right to Djiby Fall, who had a breakaway on goal. Edwards was able to recover and make the save, though, and keep the game at 1-0. 

Cincinnati tied the game up in the 17th minute, as a perfect ball over the top led to a two-on-one with Andrew Wiedeman leading the way. Hines was caught up field on Clowes’ turnover and Edwards ran to Wiedeman to cut down the angle, but the speedy Fall was wide open on the far side for the tap-in. 

The second goal of the match opened it up a bit, and both teams struggled to get a foothold on it. Turnovers and fouls led to a large portion of the remainder of the first half being played inside the middle third of the field. Cincy defended with eight or nine men behind the ball, and made it difficult for the young Lions to go through the middle. Pulis’ side countered this by using the width of the field. OCB constantly switched the field, made overlapping runs, and put low crosses into the box. However, the Ohio side used physicality to win the ball back and then the speed of Fall to get behind OCB's defense. Donovan and Hines simply could not keep up with the Senegalese striker and it led to multiple chances, including this big save from Edwards: 

The first half ended with the score tied, 1-1. Cincy was ahead in shots, 9-3, but seven of them were from long range as the OCB defense held strong. Apart from total shots everything else was pretty even. The visitors held the slight advantage in possession (52%) and duels won (51%), while passing accuracy was even at 83% and both teams had about 250 total passes in the first 45. Cincinnati had seven total chances, but Edwards came up with four big saves. 

The second half started much the same as the first half ended. The visitors had a few chances, but neither team was able to gain an advantage or separate themselves from each other. Around the 55th minute Cincinnati started to hold onto the ball more, instead of going directly onto the counter, and had a few long spells of possession. The OCB defense stayed compact, though, and, with the help of Edwards, Cincy was unable to break through. 

“I think it’s a little more care from all of us to take care when in possession,” Schweitzer said. “We need to keep the ball better and we’ve got the quality to do so. We’ve got to watch the film. We’ll get better from this. We’ll look at what went wrong, what went well, and all focus is on the next one now.”

In the 68th minute, OCB should have gone ahead. Ellis-Hayden put a perfect cross in from the right hand side, that found the head Albert Dikwa. Dikwa was shoved to the ground by defender Austin Berry, but he still managed to get a head on it that forced Hildebrandt to make a diving save. There was no call on the play, on what should have been a penalty kick, but it was also a superb save by the FCC goalkeeper. 

The game finally started to open up a bit more in the final 10 minutes, with both teams looking for the go-ahead goal. However, in the 87th minute, things got interesting. Pierre Da Silva came in late and his tackle got Kadeem Dacres. The referee handed him a yellow card, but the assistant referee called the center over and, after a brief conversation, he changed Da Silva’s yellow card to a straight red. 

The referee then gave an additional five minutes of stoppage time, and Cincy pushed men forward in hopes of leaving Orlando with all three points. Pulis countered by putting eight men behind the ball and substitute Michael Cox up top. When in possession, the Lions tried to feed Cox the ball and use his speed to go on the counter, but they never got the chance. 

At the dying moments, OCB needed Edwards to once again come up big. Matt Bahner took a long-range shot that forced the ‘keeper to make a one-handed, low diving save. Danni Konig was the only player following up and nearly got on the end of it but OCB was able to clear the ball, and the game ended, 1-1.

Cincinnati finished with more shots (14 compared to OCB’s four) and possession (55%) after a strong second half, but it failed to leave Orlando with a win. A point is a fair result for both teams, and the focus is now on the next match. Pulis was altogether pleased with his team’s performance, but knows that it can still improve in certain areas.

“They never really cause us too much problems in open play,” said Pulis. “It was just us causing ourselves problems in our defensive transition. We would turn the ball over in poor areas and we weren’t organized enough behind the ball. I think in the run of play a point is probably a fair result.”

OCB is now winless in its last five home games, with the last home win coming way back on April 4 against Toronto.

The young Lions are back in action on July 8, taking on Pittsburgh at Orlando City Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

Starting XI: Earl Edwards, Jr.; Timbo (Scott Thomsen — 73’), Seb Hines, Conor Donovan, Zach Ellis-Hayden; Austin Martz, Jordan Schweitzer, Pierre Da Silva, Danny Deakin (Lewis Neal — 69’), Paul Clowes; Albert Dikwa (Michael Cox — 81’). 

Used Substitutes: Jake Fenlason, Zach Carroll, Ryley Kraft, Ben Polk.

Goals: ORL — Schweitzer (2’); CIN — Fall (16’).

Yellow Cards: ORL — Hines (45’), Clowes (46’); CIN — Berry (75’).

Red Cards: ORL — Da Silva (87’).

Orlando City B

Orlando City B vs. New York Red Bulls II: Final Score 1-1 as OCB Draws Again and Falls in Penalties

OCB pulled out a last-minute draw at New York Red Bulls II but fell 8-7 in penalties.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B

Orlando City B (4-5-8, 24 points) played its first game away from home since June 2, taking on New York Red Bulls II (7-7-4, 28 points) at MSU Soccer Park in Montclair, NJ. The hosts took the lead in the 58th minute through Tanner Rosborough and, even when Copeland Berkley was sent off in the 76th minute, it looked like OCB would fall. However, Justin Ellis scored in the fourth minute of second-half stoppage time to claim a point for OCB. The Young Lions then fell 8-7 in penalties, as the Red Bulls picked up the extra shootout point.

OCB Head Coach Manuel Goldberg made two changes to the team that drew 1-1 with Inter Miami II on July 14. Yutaro Tsukada and Wilfredo Rivera entered the lineup for Favian Loyola and Jack Lynn. While Loyola was on the bench for this game, Lynn was absent because he was on the bench for the first team last night.

The back four in front of goalkeeper Carlos Mercado was Tahir Reid-Brown, Thomas Williams, Nabi Kibunguchy, and Alex Freeman. Imanol Almaguer and Colin Guske were the defensive midfielders behind Jhon Solis, Shak Mohammed, and Tsukada with Rivera alone up top.

New York was the better team for most of the game, creating more chances. The Red Bulls nearly took a first-half lead after Guske made an ill-advised challenge, giving the hosts a penalty, but Mercado made a great save. After Red Bulls II took a deserved lead in the second half, a red card with 14 minutes left gave OCB some hope. Despite being up a man, the Young Lions were unable to break through the back line until Ellis’ superb individual effort in stoppage time evened the game.

The Young Lions struggled to play the ball out of the back, which provided Red Bulls II with the first chance of the game in the second minute. After receiving a square ball from Williams, Reid-Brown lost possession to Mohammed Sofo near the top of the OCB box. The New York attacker attempted to get to the end line and cross the ball, but Freeman forced him out of play, winning a goal kick.

The ensuing goal kick went wide to Reid-Brown and the left back knocked it off the defender, losing possession again. Julian Hall collected the ball and played it across the top of the box for Ibrahim Kasule. The midfielder’s low shot was aiming for the far post but rolled wide.

In the seventh minute, Rivera lost possession near the top of the Red Bulls II box to Steven Sswerwadda, who quickly sent a long ball for Rosborough behind the OCB back line. The artificial turf made the bouncing ball difficult to settle, so Rosborough was forced to attempt a half volley. However, he wasn’t able to get over the ball, sending it over the crossbar.

The Young Lions got their first shot of the game in the 16th minute when Williams intercepted a pass from Bento Estrela to Hall. Mohammed picked up the ball and dribbled towards the New York goal, finding Williams, who made a long run to his left. The center back shot from just inside the box, sending it wide.

Rivera played Freeman down the right in the 18th minute towards the end line. The right back reached the ball before it crossed out of play and attempted to send it into the six, but center back Aidan O’Connor knocked it out of play for an OCB corner kick.

The ensuing set piece by Tsukada was headed towards goal by Mohammed, but he popped it up. That enabled Juan Gutierrez to head it away from the goal. The clearance attempt went to Freeman inside the box, who found Rivera to his left. The forward’s volley went off Mohammed’s body and changed directions, igniting the break. Only Guske was back for the Young Lions and Hall touched the ball around him, creating a breakaway. He tried to guide the ball around Mercado, but the OCB goalkeeper got a touch to it, putting it wide and keeping the game scoreless.

In the 30th minute, Guske lost possession to Hall after receiving a pass back from Mohammed and getting trapped on the end line. It appeared that Guske fouled Hall in the box while trying to win back possession, but referee JC Griggs didn’t agree. Kasule collected the ball after a brief touch by Guske and was tripped by the OCB defensive midfielder. This time, Griggs immediately pointed to the spot the second time, awarding a penalty to the hosts.

Sofo stepped up to take the penalty, looking to extend his team’s perfect record this season from the spot. He was aiming for the low right corner and Mercado guessed right. The OCB goalkeeper got a touch to the ball, sending it off the post and out.

The ball traveled diagonally across the box and Rosoborough took possession before playing it to the top of the 18. It looked like Sswerwadda would shoot, but he left it for Estrela behind him. The midfielder took a first-touch shot that Kibunguchy got in front of, knocking away from the OCB box.

Hall looked to beat Mercado from a tight angle in the 41st minute after receiving a pass from Kasule. Reid-Brown was able to stay in front of the attacker, forcing him to the end line. Hall was initially looking to cross but shot instead, sending the ball into the outside of the net.

Red Bulls II had another great chance to open the scoring in the third minute of first-half stoppage time when Omar Valencia sent a strong cross in from the left. Rosborough was at the penalty spot with space and shot with his second touch. However, he couldn’t get over the ball, sending it over the goal.

New York was the better team in the first half, creating more and better chances than the Young Lions. The hosts had more shots (8-4), shots on target (2-0), and crosses (3-0) in the first 45 minutes. Meanwhile, OCB had more corner kicks (3-2) and better passing accuracy (91.3%-85.9%).

The Young Lions had the first chance of the second half when Rivera was knocked down from behind by Sswerwadda, giving OCB a free kick near the opposition box. Tsukada took the free kick, sending it off the wall. Rather than going back to the free kick taker, it went towards the goal, where it was caught by Red Bulls II goalkeeper Aidan Stokes on the goal line.

Sswerwadda took a long-distance shot in the 49th minute that was deflected out of play by Guske. The ensuing corner kick was knocked out by Freeman and the Young Lions took possession. Rivera played it back for Solis who sent the ball long for Freeman, sprinting down the field after the clearance. He took possession in the New York half of the field and carried the ball into the box. A defender was on Freeman’s heels, but the right back kept him behind, ensuring he had space for a shot. The attempt was past Stokes, who was slow to react, but bounced off the near post.

In the 55th minute, Freeman and Guske struggled to keep possession from a Mercado free kick, eventually giving the ball away to Kasule. Rosborough took over and found Sofo near the OCB box. Guske caught back up to the play and knocked the ball out for a New York corner kick.

The ensuing set piece was initially cleared by Solis, but the hosts retained possession. The ball was played square for Sswerwadda who sent the long-distance shot over the goal.

The hosts took the lead in the 58th minute, when Sofo sent the ball wide right to Berkley. The right back found Sofo continuing his run and the attacker’s first touch was a shot. Williams did well to get his foot to the attempt, sending the ball off the crossbar. Freeman was defending Rosborough at the far post but was caught flat-footed, enabling Rosborough to put the ball into the roof of the net to give Red Bulls II a 1-0 lead. 

The Young Lions had a good chance to equalize in the 61st minute when Rivera was pushed over from behind by Sswerwadda, earning the New York midfielder a yellow card. It was nearly an identical play from the foul at the beginning of the half, and Tsukada stepped up again to take the free kick. After hitting the ball into the wall earlier, Tsuakda struck this one much better. He curled it over the wall and it was on target, but Stokes did well to push it over the goal.

In the 65th minute, it was the Berkley-Sofo connection again causing problems for OCB. After receiving the ball at the top of the box, Sofo sent the ball wide to Berkley. Both defenders moved to cover Berkley, leaving Sofo unmarked. Berkley gave it back to his teammate, who sent his shot over the goal.

It looked like OCB would have a possible breakaway in the 69th minute when Mercado jumped on a ball into the box and punted it long for Rivera making a run into the New York half. Unfortunately, Rivera had to wait for the ball, enabling the defenders to get back. Rivera didn’t hesitate to shoot once he got to the box, but Gutierrez was able to block it. The ensuing corner kick was sent all the way across the field twice as the Young Lions were unable to find space for a shot.

Goldberg made two substitutions in the 73rd minute, replacing Reid-Brown and Rivera with Favian Loyola and Jackson Platts.

Bringing Platts into the game proved to be beneficial in the 76th minute when he received the ball on the left and dribbled past two defenders into the New York half of the field. Already on a yellow card, Berkley made contact with Platts, resulting in the OCB attacker going down. Griggs immediately issued a yellow card and subsequent red card, giving OCB a man advantage as it searched for an equalizer.

While OCB was able to get the ball into the New York box, the back line did well to stay compact, making it hard for the Young Lions to break through. As a result, it was the hosts that created the next good chance in the 80th minute. Malick Dembele sent Hall behind a pair of defenders and the midfielder took a first-touch shot, but Williams did well to slide in and block the attempt.

OCB made two more attacking substitutions in the 83rd minute. Ellis and Bernardo Goncalves came into the game for Tsukada and Guske.

The Young Lions had a good chance to equalize in the 89th minute when a give-and-go from the top of the box between Freeman and Almaguer sent Freeman toward the end line. The right back’s shot was blocked by Stokes, but went straight to Kibunguchy. Unfortunately, the center back wasn’t able to reach the ball, falling over during the attempt.

In the second minute of stoppage time, Loyola was fouled on the right side of the field, giving OCB a free kick in a dangerous spot. Almaguer’s ball to the back of the six was headed across the face of goal by Kibunguchy. It was behind Mohammed, who tried a bicycle kick, but it went through without a shot being taken.

Two minutes later, the Young Lions found their equalizer. It started when Freeman played the ball forward for Ellis. The teenager dribbled between Gutierrez and Aiden Jarvis before shooting between O’Connor and Sswerwadda, placing the ball beyond the outreached arm of Stokes and into the corner of the goal to even the game at 1-1.

Despite being down a man, Red Bulls II had a chance for a last-second winner after Mohammed’s cross was headed away. Frank Ssebufu dribbled down the field surrounded by three OCB defenders and found Dembele to his left. Valencia was charging down the field and Dembele passed the ball to his teammate, who shot for the far post. It was beyond Mercado’s reach but traveled just wide.

That was the last chance for either team as the game ended in a 1-1 draw. New York finished the game with more shots (19-11), but both teams put three attempts on target. The hosts also had more crosses (5-4), while OCB had more corner kicks (6-5) and better passing accuracy (86.1%-84.9%).

In MLS NEXT Pro games, each team gets a point for a draw, but the game goes to a penalty shootout to determine who gets a second point.

Ssebufu took the first penalty for New York and Mercado guessed correctly, diving to his right and knocking it away. Solis took the first attempt for OCB, but he hit the crossbar, keeping the shootout scoreless after one round.

After Curtis Ofori and Freeman converted, Mercado saved Aiden Jarvis’ shot. However, Mercado was judged to have left his line early, so Jarvis got another chance. This time he put it in and, after Mohammed sent Stokes the wrong way, it was tied after three rounds.

The next six shooters did well to convert, keeping the shootout even after six rounds. New York’s seventh attempt was by Gutierrez and Mercado got a strong hand to the center back’s shot. The ball changed directions but still went in. Gutierrez responded by taunting Mercado, earning himself a yellow card.

The next four penalty takers converted their attempts, meaning Kibunguchy had to score to keep the Young Lions alive. The center back was going down the middle with Stokes diving to his left, but sent the shot over the goal and Red Bulls II took the extra point.

The winless streak for OCB now sits at seven games, dating back to May 26, when the Young Lions beat Huntsville City FC 5-0 at Osceola County Stadium. However, they’ve been picking up points, drawing five of their last six games.

The Young Lions had a chance tonight to jump Inter Miami II and draw even on points with Red Bulls II. Instead, they remain in 10th place, two spots and four points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in MLS NEXT Pro’s Eastern Conference.

OCB will be back in action Saturday night when it plays the middle game of a three-game road trip, with a 7 p.m. kickoff against Chattanooga FC at Finley Stadium.

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Orlando City B

Orlando City B vs. Inter Miami II: Final Score 1-1 as OCB Draws Rivals and Claims a Second Point in Penalties

OCB responded from a 1-0 second-half deficit to draw Inter Miami II before taking an extra point in penalties.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B / Mark Thor

Orlando City B (4-5-7, 23 points) ended its five-game homestand tonight with a 1-1 draw against Inter MiamI II (6-6-5, 23 points) at Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee. The visitors took the lead in the 70th minute through Shanyder Borgelin, but Wilfredo Rivera’s excellent strike in the 80th minute equalized for OCB. The Young Lions then won the penalty shootout 2-0 to claim the extra point.

OCB made three changes from the team that lost 2-1 to Carolina Core FC on July 7. Tahir Reid-Brown, Favian Loyola, and Jack Lynn entered the starting lineup, replacing Zakaria Taifi, Yeiler Valencia, and Rivera. The back line in front of goalkeeper Carlos Mercado were Reid-Brown, Thomas Williams, Nabi Kibunguchy, and Alex Freeman. Colin Guske and Imanol Almaguer were the defensive midfielders behind Jhon Solis, Shak Mohammed, and Loyola, with Lynn up top.

The first half had few chances for either team, with the notable moments being hard challenges and bookings. However, it opened up in the second half with end-to-end action. Inter Miami II had the better chances in the opening minutes, but the Young Lions worked their way into the game. It appeared as though the 70th-minute goal would see OCB lose for the second consecutive game, but an attacking substitution by OCB Head Coach Manuel Goldberg worked as Rivera scored the equalizer.

The Young Lions held the early possession, but it was Miami that created the first chance of the game. In the seventh minute, Borgelin’s cross was blocked out of play by Williams for a corner kick. The ensuing set piece was headed towards the near post, falling to the feet of Leo Afonso open in front of goal. It appeared to go off the forward’s knee and over the crossbar, enabling OCB to avoid conceding early.

The Young Lions got their first chance in the 10th minute when Miami cleared the ball out of play. Almaguer took the corner kick, playing it short to Solis. However, referee Laura Rodriguez saw too much pushing and shoving in the box, calling on Almaguer to take it again. The second one went to the near post, where it found the head of Lynn, but the striker redirected the ball over the target.

Afonso had another good chance to give the visitors an early lead in the 16th minute when a ball into the box was headed down by Borgelin near the top of the six. Afonso was the first one to it and put the ball on target, but Mercado did well to block it with his leg.

Solis used a fancy pass to create an opportunity for OCB in the 24th minute, sending Loyola down the end line from the left. The attacker found Lynn right in front of the goal, but the ball got caught in his feet. As a result, Lynn couldn’t get much on the shot, enabling Cole Jensen to make the stop.

Some sloppy possession by Inter Miami II in the 26th minute enabled Loyola to take possession in the final third. He used his quick feet to create some room and shot from just outside of the box. Unfortunately, the low attempt was directly to Jensen and the goalkeeper made an easy save.

In the 32nd minute, Reid-Brown sent a cross into the box looking for Lynn at the near post. The pass was deflected by Nykolas Sessock and landed on the top of the net. The ensuing corner kick by Almaguer found the head of Kibunguchy, and he appeared to give OCB the lead, but the center back was called for a foul while going for the ball.

At the end of 45 minutes, Inter Miami II had more shots (8-3), but OCB put more on target (2-1). Miami had more crosses (4-2), OCB had better passing accuracy (87.9%-86.6%), and both teams had three corner kicks. Despite the lack of goals, it was an eventful first half with six yellow cards being issued, including to both head coaches.

The most surprising thing about the first half was that it ended scoreless. It’s the first time an OCB game has been scoreless at the break since May 25, 2023 (34 games ago), also against Inter Miami II. In that game, Lynn scored the game’s lone goal in the 57th minute as the Young Lions won 1-0.

Miami came out of halftime the more attacking team, creating multiple opportunities in the opening minutes of the second half. Shortly after the restart, Reid-Brown was called for a foul and booked, giving the visitors a free kick about 35 yards from goal. Dairon Reyes took the set piece and went for goal, sending it off target.

In the 49th minute, Noah Allen sent a dangerous ball into the box looking for Borgelin. However, his cross was too close to Mercado, who was able to jump on it. Three minutes later, Noah was looking for Borgelin again. This time the forward chested it down, but lost control and it went out of play. It wouldn’t have counted had he scored because the flag went up for offside.

OCB’s first second-half chance came in the 54th minute. Almaguer received the ball outside of the box and no defenders closed him down, so the captain went for goal. It wasn’t a bad strike, but it curled wide of the target.

In the 59th minute, Mohammed carried the ball across the field before being tripped by David Ruiz, earning the Miami midfielder a yellow card. Almaguer took the free kick and went for goal, but sent the attempt over the top.

Immediately after the shot, OCB made its first two changes of the game. Rivera and Yutaro Tsukada entered for Lynn and Loyola.

Miami had a great chance to score the opening goal in the 65th minute when Ruiz headed a ball down just before it crossed the end line. It was a perfectly-placed ball for Afonso near the six-yard box, but the attacker whiffed as he attempted to shoot.

A minute later, Afonso received the ball at the top of the box and went for goal. The shot was through the legs of Borgelin, but Mercado did well to keep his eye on the ball, enabling him to make a one-handed save. It went straight to Sessock for an open shot on goal, but the defender missed wide.

In the 69th minute, Freeman did well to bring a long ball down in the box. He chipped it for Rivera near the top of the six and the forward got his head to it, but sent it just over the goal.

OCB had another great chance in the 70th minute when Allen’s poor clearance attempt went to Mohammed. Since his back was to the goal, the attacker tried to backheel it, but it was blocked. The ball went straight to Tsukada for an open shot, but the second-half substitute missed the target.

The visitors quickly went the other way and took the lead. Reyes sent Ryan Carmichael forward and the second-half substitute shot, but it was blocked by Williams. The rebound went right to Sunderland, whose shot was off the post. With Mercado down, Borgelin and Freeman raced for the ball. The Miami attacker got to it first, knocking it in to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.

The Young Lions went on the attack and nearly found an equalizer in the 75th minute. Freeman received the ball in the box on the right, chipping it in for Rivera making a run towards goal. The forward got his head to it, but sent the attempt just over the crossbar.

Shortly after the miss, OCB made two more changes. Justin Ellis and Jackson Platts came into the game for Mohammed and Reid-Brown. Ellis went into the forward position and Rivera moved into the midfield.

Rivera’s position further back proved to be beneficial in the 80th minute. Receiving the ball from Freeman, Guske played a pass forward for Rivera. The attacker took a touch inside to avoid Allen and found space for a shot before sending a rocket towards goal. Jensen got a hand to it, but the shot was too strong, evening the game at 1-1.

“I saw him (Guske) look at me and we made eye contact,” Rivera said about his goal. “And I looked behind me, and I had space and some time, and I got it, turned, took someone on, and then I tried to put it in the back of the net. It felt great because there were a lot of fans here, and it just felt great tying it up.”

OCB made its final substitution in the 82nd minute as Bernardo Goncalves came on for Guske.

The visitors had a good chance for a winner in the 84th minute when Freeman fouled Sunderland just outside the box, earning a yellow card for the challenge. Carmichael stepped up to take the set piece and went for goal, sending the attempt just over the crossbar.

The fourth official showed four minutes of stoppage time and it was OCB that appeared the most likely to find a winner. First, Rivera collected the ball at the top of the box and shot from near where he scored his goal. Unfortunately, his attempt was just over the top. Two minutes later, Tsukada shot from the top left corner of the box, but it was right to Jesnen.

Miami had a chance for a last-second winner when Alejandro Flores took a shot from outside the box in the fourth minute of stoppage time. Mercado got down to block it, but he only got it to the top of the six. Sunderland was charging in and it looked like he might get there, but Freeman was able to clear it first. Rodriguez blew the final whistle right after the clearance, ending the game at 1-1.

After 90 minutes, Inter Miami II had more shots (20-14), but OCB put more shots on target (5-4). While Miami had more crosses (9-6), OCB had more corner kicks (4-3) and better passing accuracy (87.5%-86.9%). The aggressive game ended with Miami committing more fouls (16-9) and OCB being booked more (8-6).

“It was a tight game. I think both teams did a good job,” Goldberg said about the performance. “The game was entertaining, there were chances for both sides, so pretty even match in general.”

“I thought we played pretty good. We gave everything we had,” Rivera added. “Obviously, they came out with the first goal and set us back a little bit, but I thought we were playing well and thankfully I was able to make a difference coming off the bench.”

Per MLS NEXT Pro rules, games that end in a draw result in both teams getting a point but go to penalties to see which team earns a second point. It was the seventh time OCB went to penalties after drawing this season.

The goalkeepers got off to a great start, saving nearly identical shots by Sunderland and Solis. Allen took the second attempt for Miami and it was beyond the reach of Mercado, but hit the post. After Freeman sent Jensen the wrong way to give OCB the lead, Mercado made his second stop, this time on Yuval Cohen. Jensen guessed correctly on Tsukada, but the midfielder slipped it underneath him. That meant Giovanni Ferraina had to convert, but the center back sent his attempt over the goal.

The poor shootout performance by Miami (0-4) meant OCB only had to be somewhat accurate to win the shootout. It’s not often that MLS NEXT Pro penalty shootouts end 2-0, but this one did, and the Young Lions took the extra point. They’re now 4-3 when going to penalties.

The draw keeps OCB in 10th place in MLS NEXT Pro’s Eastern Conference, but the extra point moves the Young Lions even on points with Inter Miami II for ninth. They’re still three points behind New York Red Bulls II and Crown Legacy FC for the final playoff spot but have a game in hand on Miami and New York.

OCB will return to action on July 21 as the team heads out on the road for the first time since June 13, facing New York Red Bulls II in New Jersey.

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Orlando City B

Orlando City B vs. Carolina Core FC: Final Score 2-1 as Young Lions Fall Apart in Second Half

A poor second half saw OCB lose at home to Carolina Core FC, ending a three-game unbeaten run.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B / Mark Thor

Orlando City B (4-5-6, 21 points) let a 1-0 halftime lead slip away in the second 45 minutes as the Young Lions fell 2-1 to Carolina Core FC (3-7-4, 16 points) at Osceola County Stadium. Shak Mohammed gave the Young Lions the lead just before the break but an Ibrahim Covi penalty and Joshua Rodriguez breakaway in the second half lifted the visitors to the win.

OCB Head Coach Manuel Goldberg deployed the same starting lineup that drew 2-2 with Atlanta United 2 on June 26. The back line in front of goalkeeper Carlos Mercado included Zakaria Taifi, Thomas Williams, Nabi Kibunguchy, and Alex Freeman. Imanol Almaguer and Colin Guske were the defensive midfielders behind Yeiler Valencia, Mohammed, and Jhon Solis with Wilfredo Rivera up top.

The surprise in the lineup was the inclusion of Freeman at right back. The Homegrown product came on in the 83rd minute for the first team Saturday night, recording an assist in the 5-0 win over D.C. United.

The first half of this game was quite even with both teams having plenty of possession and chances. A tied game at halftime would’ve been fair, but Mohammed’s late first-half conversion gave OCB the lead. The second half was a different story with Carolina completely controlling things. They had more chances, shots on target, and possession in the second 45 minutes while the Young Lions struggled to stay in the game. The second half made the 2-1 Carolina win a fair result as OCB lost its first game since June 2.

The Young Lions got the first chance of the game in the second minute from a Carolina turnover. Carlos Diaz’s throw-in to Covi was a bad one, enabling Valencia to reach it first. Covi got a touch to it to take it off Valencia’s foot, but it went directly to Rivera. Carrying it to the top of the Carolina box, the forward shot for the far post but missed wide.

In the fourth minute, Alenga Charles found Carolina captain Jacob Evans at the top of the OCB box. The midfielder took one touch before shooting for the far post. Mercado did well to dive to his left, tipping the ball around the post for a corner kick. Evans’ ensuing set piece was flicked towards goal by Santiago Cambindo, but it was just over the crossbar, landing on top of the net.

In the seventh minute, a poor pass by Kibunguchy went directly to Jathan Juarez in the OCB third of the field. The midfielder played it over the top for Facundo Canete, running behind the Lions’ back line. He nearly got his head to the ball, but Mercado got there first.

Immediately after taking possession, Mercado sent a long ball forward for Valencia. The OCB midfielder carried it inside and took a shot, aiming for the near post. However, Carolina goalkeeper Alex Sutton had it covered and made an easy stop.

In the 10th minute, Canete received the ball deep from Diaz and was given enough space for a shot. He was about 30 yards from goal but decided to fire anyway. While the shot was on target, it didn’t cause any trouble for Mercado.

The Young Lions had a great chance to take the lead in the 12th minute when Solis chipped the ball over his defender to Mohammed running behind. The attacker’s first touch was towards goal for Rivera, who tried to tap it past Sutton. Kai Thomas did well to get back and, together with Sutton, was able to block the attempt.

Sutton was a little too comfortable with the ball in the 36th minute, nearly creating a chance for OCB. Rivera put pressure on the goalkeeper and nearly took the ball off of his foot with nobody else between the forward and the goal. However, Sutton was able to get rid of it before Rivera could win the ball.

As the game went into stoppage time, it looked as though an OCB game would be scoreless at the break for the first time since May 25, 2023. But in the third minute, the Young Lions took the advantage. Receiving the ball from Solis, Valencia used a quick turn to beat his defender and carried the ball into the box from the left. His low cross was looking for Mohammed or Freeman making runs, but was close to Sutton. The Carolina goalkeeper and Freeman arrived at the ball at the same time, resulting in it getting past both. Mohammed was the first to reach it, knocking it in and giving the Young Lions a 1-0 lead at halftime.

It was a pretty even first half with both teams having plenty of possession and creating multiple chances. OCB had more shots (7-6) and shots on target (4-2), while Carolina had more corner kicks (3-2) and better passing accuracy (91.7%-88.6%). Both teams also had a pair of crosses.

In the 48th minute, Kibunguchy collided with Rodriguez, resulting in the OCB center back being called for the foul. The defender remained down and required attention, eventually getting up with a bandage wrapped around his head. In the meantime, Goldberg was booked for dissent.

Evans took the ensuing free kick and made it look like he would shoot, but played it behind the wall to halftime substitute Derek Cuevas instead. Mercado did well to block the shot, but it went directly to Rodriguez. The second attempt beat Mercado and looked to be heading inside the far post, but Mohammed got back to block it wide. Carolina couldn’t do anything with the corner kick and the Young Lions were able to keep their lead.

OCB’s first chance of the second half came in the 57th minute when Almaguer found Mohammed at the top of the box and the attacker played it on for Valencia on the left side. The midfielder shot on goal, but it was straight to Sutton.

The visitors got a well-deserved equalizer in the 60th minute from the spot. It started when Diaz’s cross into the box was headed out by Kibunguchy. The ensuing corner kick bounced around the box, including off the shin of Freeman, before Rodriguez took control. Almaguer came flying in from behind, taking Rodriguez down and referee Elton Garcia pointed to the spot. 

After a brief delay while Rodriguez received treatment, Covi stepped up to take the kick. Mercado dove to his right and Covi hit the ball as hard as he could into the roof of the net, evening the game at 1-1.

Immediately after the goal, Goldberg made his first change of the game as Favian Loyola came on for Rivera.

In the 67th minute, OCB nearly had an opportunity to retake the lead, but the visitors did instead. Solis passed up an opportunity to cross in on the initial attack, then used a few twists and turns to lose his defenders and get a more contested cross off from the end line. The ball was just over the fingers of Sutton and Valencia was ready to shoot near the back post, but Diaz cleared it away.

The ball went to midfield where Rodriguez and Williams were waiting. As the OCB center back stepped up, the ball went behind him, sending Rodriguez free on goal. Williams nearly caught up with the attacker, but he was able to chip Mercado before the defender could make up for his mistake, giving the visitors a 2-1 lead.

Carolina had a chance to take a two-goal lead in the 75th minute when Aryeh Miller sent Cuevas into the OCB box. He got past Loyola and into the 18 with space for a shot, but sent it straight to Mercado.

Goldberg made his final two changes in the 79th minute bringing on Tahir Reid-Brown and Majed Abdullah for Freeman and Almaguer. It was Reid-Brown’s first game for OCB since April 28, missing the previous eight games with a long-term injury.

“You always have positive things out of the match,” Goldberg said about Reid-Brown’s return. “This is something really positive for us for sure.”

The Young Lions nearly had an open shot in the 86th minute when Reid-Brown played Valencia down the left and the midfielder used his change of pace to beat his defender. Mohammed was making a run into the box and Valencia tried to connect with him, but the pass was just out of his reach, enabling Carolina to clear the danger.

OCB had multiple free kicks in the six minutes of added time that were headed down by Williams, but nobody was able to get on the end of them. Despite Carolina playing behind the ball, the Young Lions were unable to create anything in the final minutes and fell 2-1.

The visitors dominated the second 45 minutes, ending the game with the advantage in shots (12-8), shots on target (7-5), corner kicks (6-3), and passing accuracy (91.6%-90.4%). OCB had more crosses (6-4), but was unable to create anything from them.

The loss ends a three-game unbeaten run that featured three consecutive 2-2 draws. It also extends the Young Lions’ winless run to five games with their last victory coming on May 26 in a 5-0 win over Huntsville City FC in Kissimmee.

“We didn’t do the game as we’ve been doing in the last couple of ones. And, of course, we had a lower performance,” Goldberg said about the game. “But the goals we got scored on were really separate from what happened in the match. So it’s tough.”

“Really hard one. I think as a team we were fine,” Mohammed added. “We didn’t have our best game. It wasn’t our best game. We’ve been playing really well I think recently, so it’s hard to take that we didn’t play really well today. But, having said that, I think we’ll bounce back like we always do. And we’re going through a tough moment. but we always bounce back and I know all the guys are ready to show up and keep going. So, we’ll be ready for the next game, and that’s the only thing we can do, respond and win the next game.”

OCB drops a position to 10th in MLS NEXT Pro’s Eastern Conference with 21 points. The Young Lions are still within touching distance of the eighth and final playoff spot, sitting three points behind NYCFC II. However, they’re five points behind Columbus Crew 2, New York Red Bulls II, and Crown Legacy FC in a crowded table.

OCB will take the field next on July 14 when the club welcomes Inter Miami II to Osceola County Stadium for the final game of its five-game homestand. It will be a key game against the in-state rivals as Miami currently sits one point ahead of the Young Lions.

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