Orlando City B (2-5-3, 9 points) returns home tonight to take on Forward Madison FC (2-5-2, 8 points) in a clash between the bottom two teams in the USL League One table.
After a tough start to the 2019 season, OCB has found its footing, claiming seven points in the past three games. After a pair of victories at home over Toronto FC II and the Richmond Kickers, the Young Lions headed west Friday night where they drew FC Tucson 2-2 to claim their first point away from home.
While the previous goals were primarily scored by Koby Osei-Wusu, Moises Tablante, and Thiago Souza, team captain Rafael Santos had the biggest impact in this one, scoring the opening goal in the final minutes of the first half through a direct free kick. He nearly scored again off a free kick if not for a fingertip save off the post by Tucson goalkeeper Phillip Ejimadu. As has become somewhat common for OCB at times this season, bad giveaways nearly cost the team the game at times in the second half. Fortunately, none of those plays resulted in goals and OCB was able to come away with the draw.
Tonight’s opponent is Forward Madison FC, the only team lower than OCB in the standings. While the two teams currently sit at the bottom of the league, OCB is only four points out of fourth, the final playoff position.
While OCB has found its stride and has been playing its best soccer of the season, Madison has struggled of late. The Flamingos have lost their last three games against South Georgia Tormenta, North Texas SC, and Lansing Ignite FC. Playing the team one point ahead of them in the standings will give them a chance to climb back out of the cellar.
Similar to OCB until lately, Forward Madison has struggled offensively. The Wisconsin team has scored eight goals this season, which ranks the club second to last in the league to only ahead of the Greenville Triumph. Offensively, the team is led by Don Smart and Josiel Núñez, who have each scored twice for the team. That accounts for half of the team’s goals.
This will be the second time that OCB hosts Madison this season. The first match-up between these two teams came on April 19 at Montverde Academy. The Young Lions took the lead in the first half through an Osei-Wusu penalty conversion before Núñez equalized in the 58th minute and Shaun Russell netted the winner with 20 minutes remaining, resulting in a 2-1 win for the visitors.
Helpful for OCB tonight is that Madison will be without one of its most dangerous players as Núñez was sent off last week against Lansing Ignite FC for abusive language. The team will also be without its head coach, Daryl Shore, who will serve a one-game suspension after being dismissed from the touchline against Lansing.
This will be a critical game for both teams as they look to keep pace with those above them in the standings. Despite being at the bottom of the table, both are within striking distance of the final playoff spot as we near the midpoint of the season.
Most Recent Lineups
Orlando City B (5/31 at FC Tucson)
Juliano Chade; Randy Mendoza, Matheus Silva, Nathan Simeon, Leonardo Simas; Austin Amer; Thiago Souza, Rafael Santos, Serginho, Jordan Bender; Tresor Mbuyu.
Forward Madison FC (6/1 vs Lansing Ignite FC)
Ryan Coulter; Carl Schneider, Connor Tobin, Eric Leonard, Christian Díaz; Josiel Núñez, Ally Nganzi, Jeff Michaud; J.C. Banks, Paulo Jr., Don Smart.
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