MONTVERDE, FL — Orlando City B (3-5-3, 12 points) used two stellar goals by Rafael Santos and Thiago Souza to dispatch Forward Madison FC (2-6-2, 8 points) in a 2-1 win at Montverde Academy. It’s the team’s third win in four games (3-0-1) and their third straight at home as the Young Lions climbed to within a point of a playoff spot.
OCB Head Coach Fernando Jose de Argila Irurita made a few changes to the team from last week’s 2-2 draw at FC Tucson. Starting goalkeeper Juliano Chade was out of the lineup for the first time since April 5, while Christian Herrera took his place. Having returned from a back injury and come off the bench last week, Ates Diouf returned to the starting lineup.
The first great chance of the game resulted in its first goal. A nice buildup in the 23rd minute by OCB was broken up when Randy Mendoza lost the ball. With Madison unable to clear, Souza immediately won it back with Santos taking possession. The Lions’ captain took one touch and fired on goal from the top of the box, beating Madison goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre to the top corner.
“The last game I had a similar situation that I hit the post,” Santos said about the goal. “I told Matheus (Silva) that I was going to stay in that pocket once we reached their half so he can find me again, so I can just turn and hit it. It wasn’t exactly like that but it was similar, so I was just waiting for that opportunity and happy I could tuck it in this time.”
In addition to being Santos’ second goal in two games, it was also the fifth straight game in which OCB scored first. After giving up the lead in the first half in the first two games, the Young Lions have now scored first in seven of the team’s 11 games.
“When you are winning, it always gives you the relaxed feeling when you are playing and the other team has to go out to go for the game,” Argila said after the game. “So you can find more space. The big change now from the beginning is before we were winning but we couldn’t keep the result and we lose games that we were winning. Now that is changing and that means the team is improving and understanding how to control the game.”
Forward Madison nearly equalized in the 40th minute from a set piece. Don Smart’s free kick reached Shaun Russell, who was able to get his head to it before Herrera could arrive. The ball fell behind J.C. Banks, who attempted an acrobatic bicycle kick. The ball appeared to be headed for the back of the net but Mendoza headed the ball off the crossbar and out of play.
OCB doubled its lead in the 63rd minute with a goal that outdid the first. Clearing the ball after a Madison free kick, Serginho sent it long for Souza. With just one defender and space in front of him, the OCB forward beat Christian Diaz inside and fired a screamer past Sylvestre and into the far top corner of the goal.
Madison was able to pull one back late when quick passing allowed Brandon Eaton to send Brian Bement in on goal. Nathan Simeon attempted to hold him off but Bement held his ground. Herrera attempted to come out to make the stop but the Madison substitute lifted the ball over the sliding goalkeeper and into the net, cutting the deficit in half.
The 2-1 win is OCB’s third straight at home and increases its point streak to four games. Souza’s third goal of the season pulls him even with Koby Osei-Wusu for the team lead and fourth in the league. It was his first from open play as his first two came from the spot.
“We are a young team and sometimes when the game is 2-0, they want to show too much and they want to continue scoring and scoring,” Argila said after the game. “Sometimes you need to know when you have to hold down the game. The last 15 minutes we were disorganized too much. The substitution maybe was our mistake because we didn’t explain as good to the substitution what we want from them.”
For the time being, the three points moves OCB into a tie for fifth on points with Greenville Triumph SC and Chattanooga Red Wolves SC, just one point behind the final playoff position. OCB will return to the field on Wednesday night when the Young Lions will welcome FC Tucson to Montverde for the second time this season.