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Orlando City B

Orlando City B vs. NYCFC II: Final Score 2-2 as OCB Takes An Extra Point on Penalties

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KISSIMMEE — An eventful first half saw Orlando City B (1-0-1, 5 points) draw New York City FC II (0-0-2, 2 points) 2-2 at Osceola County Stadium. OCB followed up the 2-2 draw by winning the penalty shootout, taking home an extra point. Moises Tablante and David Boccuzzo — the latter from the penalty spot — provided the offense for OCB, which remained unbeaten on the young MLS NEXT Pro season.

OCB Head Coach Martin Perelman made two changes from the team that beat Chicago Fire II last weekend. First-team players Joey DeZart and Thomas Williams entered the starting lineup, replacing Erick Gunera and Gonzalo Agustoni-Chagas. Other first-team players in the lineup included Jack Lynn, Wilfredo Rivera, and Alex Freeman.

NYCFC II got off to the stronger start, creating the first chance in the fourth minute. A corner kick resulted in a scramble in the box as the Young Lions were unable to clear. Eventually, Klevis Haxhari took a shot on goal that was blocked and OCB sent the ball up field.

OCB’s first good chance came in the 10th minute when Lynn was sent through on goal. It looked as though he would have a one-on-one against NYCFC II goalkeeper Alex Rando but the flag went up for offside.

A minute later, Freeman carried the ball into the box, beating a pair of defenders before going down. The defender was looking to draw a penalty but the referee was having none of it.

The best chance for NYCFC II in the first 20 minutes came in the 13th minute. The referee called a back pass that gave the visitors an indirect free kick at the corner of the OCB six-yard box. The Young Lions stacked the wall, allowing them to block the shot and clear.

The first goal of the game finally came in the 18th minute. A long ball for Lynn got the forward in behind the NYCFC II defense. Orlando City’s 2022 MLS SuperDraft pick immediately looked up and found Tablante darting toward the back post. Lynn slid the pass across the top of the six for Tablante, who calmly put away the opening goal.

“I was thinking that if it came to me, to stay calm and move my feet,” Tablante said about his goal. “And hopefully I get more goals this year.”

The Young Lions nearly doubled their lead in the 23rd minute when Diego Pareja chipped the ball in for Rivera running through. Unfortunately, the ball was just beyond Rivera’s reach and nothing came of the chance.

NYCFC II came close again in the 33rd minute when a free kick ended up at the foot of Kenan Hot. Rather than sending a cross into the box, Hot decided to take a chance on goal. The shot appeared to be headed to the far corner, but just went just wide of the post.

After multiple near chances by both teams, the goals started flooding in late in the first half. In the 35th minute, Nick Taylor took down Jonathan Jimenez in the box, leaving the referee no choice but to point to the spot.

John Denis stepped up to take the kick and sent OCB goalkeeper Javier Otero the wrong way, tying the game up at 1-1.

It didn’t take long for the Young Lions to respond. Just two minutes later, Freeman made a run down the right and sent a low cross into the box. It looked like Nicholas Benalcazar would clear, but Tablante stepped in front. Benalcazar hit the back of Tablante’s leg and the referee pointed to the spot again.

OCB’s spot kick ended up the same as the one on the other end. Boccuzzo sent Rando the wrong way, putting the Young Lions back on top.

OCB almost got a third goal in the 41st minute when Rivera sent a low cross into the box. Rando was unable to gather the ball and it skipped into free space. Unfortunately, no OCB players were there to put it away and NYCFC II was able to clear.

In the 44th minute, Rivera got taken down just outside the NYCFC II box, giving the Young Lions another great chance. Tablante took the shot, which appeared to be headed just inside the post, but Rando did well to make the diving stop.

With just two minutes added to the first half, it looked as though OCB would take a lead into the break. However, NYCFC II struck a second time just before the end of the first half. Stephen Turnbull sent Hot toward the corner with the midfielder collecting the ball near the box. 

A nice touch by Hot got him past Williams and provided enough space to shoot. Brandon Hackenberg attempted to make a late diving block, but the ball went between his legs and towards the far corner. Otero got his fingers to the ball, but it wasn’t enough as NCYFC II scored the equalizer just before halftime.

While OCB was disappointed to concede an equalizer just before the half, it was fortunate to even be tied. NYCFC II dominated the first 45 minutes, leading in possession (58%-42%), shots (12-4), shots on target (7-3), passes (178-135) and passing accuracy (78.7%-73.3%).

NYCFC II got off to the better first half start, but OCB was the aggressor to begin the second 45 minutes. In the 48th minute, Freeman found Rivera in front of goal but the dangerous midfielder missed to the right of the target.

Three minutes later, a Rivera free kick found the head of Lynn. After scoring a brace in the first game of the season, the rookie was unable to redirect the header on goal, sending it over the crossbar.

The Young Lions started the second half in a positive way but nearly made a crucial error in the 54th minute. Attempting to play the ball out of the back, Williams gave the ball away to Massimo Murania Yankowitz at the top of the box. The NYCFC academy product quickly shot on goal but it was blocked, allowing OCB to clear.

In the 55th minute, NYCFC II came inches away from taking its first lead of the game. Jimenez found Stevo Bednarsky in the box and the midfielder attempted to beat Otero to his near post. The ball got past the OCB goalkeeper but pinged off the crossbar.

OCB almost made another costly mistake in the 59th minute when Rivera slipped as the Young Lions attempted to play out of the back. NYCFC II quickly took advantage as Hot found Yankowitz in the box. The midfielder was looking for the far corner, but Otero made a great save with his foot, keeping the game even at 2-2.

NYCFC II nearly made a similar error to give OCB a chance in the 65th minute. The NYCFC II center back was backpedaling in an attempt to send a DeZart clearance back up field. But he tripped over his own feet,  resulting in a footrace between Rivera and Rando. Unfortunately, Rando got to the ball first and was able to send it away.

In the 71st minute, NYCFC II had another opportunity. As they closed in on Otero from the left, Freeman made up ground and slid in to make a game-saving tackle. The final 20 minutes were chippy, with both teams being booked, but neither team could create solid chances and the game ended 2-2.

Despite the score, it was a dominant performance by NYCFC II. The visitors ended the game with far more possession (62.6%-37.4%), shots (22-8), shots on target (9-3), passes (388-239), corners (15-2), and crosses (18-5).

The difference between a 2-2 draw and a dominating NYCFC II win was that the hosts were able to convert on a greater percentage of opportunities and come up with some key blocks. The notable stat to explain the draw was how many more blocks OCB had than the opposition (8-2).

“It was a match where we played against a young team because they came with young players.” Perelman said after the game. “They had a lot of energy. In the first half we did great, we did a good job. We can do better, but it was a good half and in the second half they were better than us, so the draw is okay.”

While the 90 minutes ended in a 2-2 draw, that wasn’t the end of the game. MLS is using its new developmental league to try out new ideas. One of those ideas is a penalty shootout following a draw. Similar to old MLS games, each team gets a point and the winner of the shootout gets an extra point.

NYCFC II shot first and the first five shots were scored, giving the visitors a 3-2 lead. DeZart then stepped up and his shot was saved by Rando. After Benalcazar and Lynn converted, the Young Lions needed Otero to keep them in the game. The young goalkeeper was up to the challenge, saving Turnbull’s shot.

Similar to Orlando City’s win over NYCFC in the 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs, Lions streamed onto the field to congratulate Otero. However, to send the shootout to extra kicks, OCB had to convert one more time. Second-half substitute Liam Guske took that responsibility and put away the tying penalty.

Bednarsky was the next to kick for NYCFC II and Otero made his second consecutive save in the shootout. That gave Tablante the chance to win it. The OCB veteran didn’t miss the opportunity, sending Rando the wrong way and securing the extra point.

“It’s the first time I’ve seen something like this in my life,” Perelman said of the regular-season shootout. “I’m 35 years old and 30 years in football and I’ve never seen something like this, so for me it’s also new. It’s strange, but it’s the league and we accept it and we are happy to take this point.”

“We’ve been training all week for that,” Tablante added. “I’ve been training myself and I scored, so thank God.”

After years of sitting near the bottom of multiple leagues, the Young Lions now sit near the top of the MLS NEXT Pro Eastern Conference after the first two games. Their five points are tied for first with New England Revolution II and two points ahead of Inter Miami 2, Philadelphia Union II, FC Cincinnati 2, and Columbus Crew 2.


OCB will now make its first road trip of the season, traveling to Fort Lauderdale to take on Inter Miami II next Sunday and to Ohio to face Crew 2 on April 15. The Young Lions will then return home for a doubleheader with the senior team at Exploria Stadium on April 24.

Orlando City B

Orlando City B vs. Crown Legacy FC: Final Score 2-0 as Young Lions Claim Road Victory

The Young Lions will bring all three points back from North Carolina after a complete win over Crown Legacy.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City B

Alex Freeman and Shak Mohammed scored and Javier Otero made six saves as Orlando City B defeated Crown Legacy FC, 2-0 at the Sportsplex at Matthews in Matthews, NC. OCB (2-1-2, 9 points) completed its two-game road trip by claiming four out of six possible points and is now unbeaten on the road in four matches (2-0-2), with a shootout win after one of its two draws. Crown Legacy remains winless on the young season (0-2-3, 5 points).

Manuel Goldberg’s lineup included just one change from the squad that started the last game at Philadelphia Union II. Manuel Cocca replaced Zakaria Taifi at fullback. The starting back line in front of goalkeeper Otero consisted of Cocca, Thomas Williams, Abdi Salim, and Freeman. Colin Guske and Imanol Almaguer played in the central midfield behind an attacking midfield line of Yutaro Tsukada, Jhon Solis, and Wilfredo Rivera, with Mohammed up top.

OCB was the better side in the first half, but squandered too many good attacks with a misplaced pass or by simply making a poor decision.

The first look at goal fell for OCB in the third minute. Tsukada intercepted the ball in the attacking half and drove forward into the box against two defenders. After entering the penalty area, the first-year pro unleashed a shot that deflected out for a corner. The Young Lions couldn’t get to Tsukada’s service, which bounced in the box before being cleared.

The hosts had a great chance in the fifth minute, shortly after the skies opened up and a heavy rain began to fall. Nimfasha Berchimas cut in from the right side, beat Williams, and sent a shot skipping toward goal. Otero did well to make the save and not give up a rebound on the hard shot in the wet conditions. The rain eventually subsided and became less of a factor.

Solis went down in the box in the 14th minute with contact but the ref played on and OCB didn’t seem too bothered by it. Seconds later, OCB stole the ball in the attacking half — a common theme in the opening 20 minutes — and Rivera had a go from distance with his left foot, but he didn’t get all of his shot. Not only did the shot lack power, but it was also wide of goal.

OCB should have scored in the 19th minute when a good buildup ended up with Tsukada on the left. The winger gave the ball to Mohammed, who cut back, but even with the goalkeeper down, the forward was reluctant to shoot. It eventually was sent toward goal by Rivera but was deflected out for a corner. The ensuing set piece was played short to Almaguer, who made a good cross into the area. Freeman got his head to it and it was on target, but goalkeeper Chituru Odunze was able to scramble over and knock it out for another corner in the 20th minute.

The Young Lions were less precise with the next corner, misplaying it short and turning it over, requiring Tsukada to break up the transition with a professional foul, earning him a yellow card.

The hosts started to settle into the match over the next 10 minutes, keeping more possession. When OCB broke up Crown Legacy’s play, the Young Lions repeatedly gave it right back in their own half.

Jonathan Nyandjo blazed past Williams and fired a shot that Otero saved in the 23rd minute on a ball over the top. Moments later, a corner kick cross was sent straight at Otero, who caught it.

Three Young Lions took unnecessary bookings before the first half was finished. Almaguer was the first of those in the 27th minute after he appeared to knock the ball out of play off a Crown Legacy player. The throw-in was awarded to the home side, and Almaguer held onto the ball while arguing the call, drawing the yellow.

Three minutes later, Otero made a stop on a shot from outside the box by Tyger Smalls.

OCB finally broke through in the 35th minute, but the play almost broke down in the Crown Legacy box again. Rivera was played into the area but opted to cut back to his right rather than fire from an angle. He just about lost the ball, but it was knocked over to the right side of the box. Freeman got to it first and powered it into the net to give OCB a 1-0 lead.

An excellent chance to double the lead broke down in the 39th minute. A good ball sent Tsukada down the left. He tried to fake out a defender, but took a heavy touch, losing it over the end line before he could get his cross in.

Otero was booked for time wasting and Rivera for something away from the ball in the final minutes of the opening period. Neither team created anything over the final minutes and OCB took its slim lead into the locker room.

OCB finished the first half with more shots (6-3), but Crown Legacy put all three of its attempts on target, compared to just two by the Young Lions. OCB also passed slightly more accurately (87.9%-87.5%) and won more corners (5-1), but did precious little with those set piece opportunities.

Crown Legacy served up a warning sign in the first minute after the restart, sending a shot from distance well over the bar.

OCB came right back and created something in the 48th minute, with a dangerous ball from Solis from the left blocked away from Tsukada. Solis then got into the box on the right in the 51st minute, but this time his cross missed his target and went all the way through the box.

Freeman nearly picked out Mohammed in the 55th minute but the cross was inches too far in front of the forward and he was ruled to be offside anyway.

Otero was called into action at the hour to make two huge saves. OCB expected a whistle for what appeared to be a clear handball and stopped playing. Crown Legacy did not and the ball ended up in the box. Otero made two big stops from close range to preserve the OCB advantage.

Tsukada’s back post delivery of a corner in the 62nd minute might have been an Olimpico attempt and it nearly worked. Cocca was breaking to the back post, but Odunze caught the ball just in front of the goal line. Cocca then nearly picked out Freeman in front in the 67th minute but the cross was inches over the fullback’s head. Orlando regrouped and Tsukada went down at the top of the area but the referee ruled it was a clean play. Two minutes later, Mohammed was sent in behind but the flag came up yet again on another close play.

OCB doubled its lead in the 76th minute. Solis won a free kick near the touchline on the left side and Willian Sangoquiza was booked for the foul. Tsukada took the set piece and sent in a good ball. Mohammed met it in the air and flicked it past Odunze to make it 2-0 with his first goal of the season.

Crown Legacy nearly pulled the goal back in the 83rd minute off a corner kick. The hosts played it short before sending it into the box, but OCB cleared it. The recycled ball came in and found Philip Mayaka in front, but the midfielder sent his shot high over the bar, wasting the opportunity.

Second-half sub Favian Loyola had a chance to put the game away moments later. He blocked a clearance attempt and the ball rolled sideways from left to right near the top of the area. However, the midfielder wasn’t fast enough to beat his defender to the ball and Crown Legacy survived what might have been a third goal.

Crown Legacy had several set pieces down the stretch to try to get back into the game. A corner was headed over in the 85th minute and then a pair of terrible bookend fouls by substitutes Tahir Reid-Brown and Loyola — on the defensive left and right, respectively — gave the hosts unnecessary chances. The Young Lions did well to survive a pair of bicycle kick attempts, blocking the second one, off the Reid-Brown foul. A third shot was blocked in front by the defense and OCB finally cleared.

The best chance in stoppage time went OCB’s way, when the ball found Freeman all alone at the top of the area. The fullback tried to pick out the right corner but missed the net just wide in the 92nd minute.

Chandler Young got the last look of the match off a cross from the right. Salim tried to get under it but misplayed it and it landed on Young’s foot, but the shot went wide to the right of Otero’s goal. Moments later, the game was over.

Crown Legacy fired more shots (15-9), and put more on target (6-4), although only a few of the hosts’ attempts were dangerous. Crown also nipped OCB in passing accuracy (87.8%-86.4%), while the Young Lions won more corners (9-5).

It was a good performance overall by the Young Lions, despite squandering a number of good attacking opportunities in the early part of the match. The defense wasn’t tested often, which is a testament to the press and defensive play from the midfielders and attacking players. The few times Crown Legacy created something, Otero was there.


The Young Lions will finally play a home game, hosting Toronto FC II at Osceola County Stadium on Sunday, April 28.

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Orlando City B

Orlando City B vs. Philadelphia Union II: Final Score 1-1 as OCB Draws, Drops Shootout

OCB earned a oad draw with Philadelphia Union II but fell 7-6 in penalties, picking up one point.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City B

Orlando City B (1-1-2, 6 points) drew Philadelphia Union II (2-0-2, 9 points) at Subaru Park 1-1 in Chester, PA this afternoon. Sal Olivas gave the hosts the lead in the 11th minute, but Wilfredo Rivera equalized less than 20 minutes later. Philadelphia dominated the second half, but OCB was able to keep the hosts out, finishing with a road draw despite not recording any second-half shots. The game went into penalties, where Union II won the extra point in the MLS NEXT Pro standings in sudden death by a 7-6 score.

OCB Head Coach Manuel Goldberg made four changes to the team that lost 2-0 to Inter Miami II on April 2. Thomas Williams, Zakaria Taifi, Colin Guske, and Shak Mohammed entered the lineup for Nabi Kibunguchy, Manuel Cocca, Jeorgio Kocevski, and Jack Lynn. Of the four regular starters taken out of the lineup, only Cocca was included on the bench.

The back line in front of goalkeeper Javier Otero was Alex Freeman, Abdi Salim, Williams, and Taifi. While Guske returned to the lineup for the first time since March 22, the rest of the midfield remained the same, including Imanol Almaguer, Rivera, Jhon Solis, and Yutaro Tsukada. Lynn is likely with the first team tomorrow night, so Mohammed got the start up top.

This was a game of two halves for the Young Lions. In the first 45 minutes, they were strong on the attack, creating problems for Philadelphia. However, they spent the entire second half on their heels, trying to keep the opposition from taking another lead. They were successful, as Union II struggled to hit the target, enabling OCB to bring home a point.

OCB nearly made a mess of its early possession when Williams turned the ball over within the first two minutes. However, Philadelphia was unable to create anything from winning the ball in the Young Lions’ third of the field, ultimately playing it back into their own half.

In the third minute, OCB had the first shot of the game and it was from a familiar source. Tsukada has been problematic on the left for teams around the league early this season and used some nifty footwork to create space. However, his shot was right to Union II goalkeeper Andrew Rick, who made an easy stop.

The Young Lions created another good chance in the eighth minute when Rivera sent Freeman forward. The right back got behind Philadelphia’s back line and got a shot off from the right of the goal, forcing Rick to block the ball out of play for the game’s first corner kick. Rivera’s ensuing set piece to the back post found the head of Solis, who redirected the ball on target. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to get much on it, enabling Frankie Westfield to head it off the line.

OCB paid for the missed opportunity as the hosts took the lead on the other end. Westfield received the ball on the left and, after a couple of touches, sent a cross across goal. Olivas found space between Williams and Taifi as neither defender picked up the run into the six-yard box. As a result, Olivas was able to touch the ball past Otero to give Philadelphia an early 1-0 lead.

In the 12th minute, Nick Pariano created a chance from the other side. Beating Taifi to the end line, the midfielder sent a low ball across the goal mouth. Fortunately, nobody was making a run for Philadelphia and the ball went harmlessly through the box.

The Young Lions felt they should’ve had a penalty in the 24th minute when Tsukada dribbled past his defender and towards the end line. The midfielder went down as the ball went out of play and threw his arms in the air, but referee Gary Gutierrez awarded a corner kick instead.

OCB found the equalizer in the 30th minute when Solis played a nice ball for Tsukada to run onto. Philadelphia was caught with too many players forward, leaving Rivera alone on the far side of the box. Tsukada found the attacker and Rivera had plenty of time to curl the ball inside the far post to make it a 1-1 game.

The Young Lions nearly took their first lead a minute later when Tsukada played the ball across for Mohammed on the left. The first-team forward’s first touch was to the top of the six-yard box where Rivera was charging in. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to reach the ball, enabling Union II to clear.

In the 36th minute, Philadelphia had a pair of corner kicks and the second one gave the hosts a good chance to retake the lead. The corner fell in the middle of the box, but Williams was unable to get his foot on the ball. Edward Davis’ first shot was blocked back to Olivas, who got it back to Davis. The forward’s second shot was wide of the target and the Young Lions cleared the danger.

Things got a little feisty in the 39th minute when David Vazuez pulled down Rivera. Following the foul, the Philadelphia attacker kicked out at Rivera, which his OCB teammates didn’t appreciate. Some pushing and shoving ensued, resulting in Vazquez and Williams being booked.

While neither team was able to create any chances, hostilities continued in the 45th minute when Freeman shielded Olivas from the ball. After Olivas went down, Salim stepped over him and Gutierrez had to separate players again. However, no cards were shown during this incident.

At halftime, Philadelphia had more possession (52%-48%), shots (10-6), and corners (6-5), and better passing accuracy (83.3%-77.8%). Meanwhile, OCB had more shots on target (4-2), but only one went in for both teams as they entered the break at 1-1.

Both teams created chances early in the second 45 minutes, but neither resulted in a go-ahead goal. Pariano had the first opportunity as he weaved through the OCB defense and into the box. He eventually took a shot, but Williams got in front to block it, enabling Otero to easily collect it.

A minute later, OCB had its first chance of the half when Solis’ pass for Mohammed split the defense. Mohammed sent a low cross into the box, but none of his teammates were there to get on the end of it.

Following the first couple of chances, things settled down, as neither team was able to create chances. However, Otero came out of his box in the 65th minute to play the ball, not realizing Davis was behind him. Once he recognized the attacker, he cleared the ball out for a Philadelphia throw in.

Union II used the throw-in to create another chance. Vazquez dribbled into the box and Otero tipped the ball away, but only to Olivas. The forward reached the end line and sent a low pass across the goal mouth with Otero still well away from his net. Fortunately, nobody was there and Taifi was able to clear it out of play. The ensuing corner kick was taken by Otero, but the goalkeeper went down after a challenge. The OCB medical staff attended to the young shot stopper, but he was able to continue.

The hosts had another chance in the 73rd minute when Olivas met a low cross near the penalty spot. Taifi got in front of the shot, but deflected it off the crossbar. Philadelphia retained possession, resulting in Giovanny Sequera getting a shot, but this one was well over the target.

In the 75th minute, Williams went down and required treatment. As a result, he had to leave the field for two minutes. Shortly after leaving, Otero collected the ball and went to the ground for the second time in the half. He received treatment long enough for the two minutes to elapse, enabling Williams to return to the field.

The first OCB substitution came in the 81st minute when Favian Loyola replaced Rivera.

As the Young Lions searched for their first shot of the second half, Philadelphia continued to create chances. In the 82nd minute, Olivas cut the ball back for second-half substitute Ryan Zellefrow in the box. Zellefrow’s first touch was a shot, but he sent the ball well over the target.

Goldberg made his second change in the 84th minute, bringing teenage forward Justin Ellis on for Mohammed.

In the 86th minute, CJ Olney found Westfield on the left side of the box. The left back attempted a low cross across the goal, but it was cleared out for a corner kick. The ensuing set piece was cleared by Solis, keeping the game at 1-1.

Philadelphia broke the other way in the 89th minute, forcing Solis to pull back the attacker, and he received a yellow card for it. The break in action enabled Goldberg to make his final change of the game, replacing Tsukada with Thomas Bowe.

Gutierrez added seven minutes to the second half and Philadelphia nearly took the lead in the sixth minute. A good run into the box by Vazquez enabled him to find space for a shot. However, Otero barely got his fingers to the ball, tipping it wide.

Zellefrow had a late chance for Philadelphia with a teammate on the far side of the field. He tried to play the ball around Salim to himself, but the OCB center back did well to stay in front and play it back to Otero. That was the final play of the 90 minutes as the game ended tied.

At the end of 90 minutes, Philadelphia had more possession (58.2%-41.8%), shots (22-6), shots on target (7-4), and corners (11-7), and better passing accuracy (82.8%-73.5%). OCB didn’t have a single shot in the second half, but was able to keep Union II’s 11 second-half shots out of the goal.

As per MLS NEXT Pro rules, the draw meant both teams would receive a point and go to penalties to decide who got a second. It was an impressive shootout, with the first 13 shooters scoring. In the seventh round, Olwethu Makhanya scored, meaning that Taifi had to convert to keep OCB alive. The defender went down the middle and Rick dove to his right, but the goalkeeper was able to drag his feet behind him, knocking the attempt wide. As a result, Philadelphia claimed the extra point.

The result is OCB’s second draw of the season. However, while they defeated Huntsville City FC in the first shootout on March 22, they lost this one, 7-6. The Young Lions remain undefeated on the road (1-0-2), taking six out of a possible nine points in away matches. They have six points from their first four games and remain in seventh in the Eastern Conference.


OCB will continue its road swing as the Young Lions take on Crown Legacy FC in North Carolina next Friday night.

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Orlando City B

Orlando City B vs. Inter Miami II: Final Score 2-0 as OCB Suffers First Loss of 2024

OCB drops “home opener” to Inter Miami II at IMG Academy for the team’s first loss of 2024.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City B / Mark Thor

Orlando City B (1-1-1, 5 points) fell for the first time in the 2024 MLS NEXT Pro season, losing 2-0 to Inter Miami II (2-0-1, 7 points) in a “home game” at IMG Academy in Bradenton. Alejandro Flores gave Miami the lead in the 21st minute and Bryan Destin doubled the advantage in the 64th minute.

OCB Head Coach Manuel Goldberg made six changes to the team that drew Huntsville City FC 1-1 and claimed the extra point on penalties. With the first team not playing this coming weekend, several MLS-contracted players returned to OCB for this rivalry game. Javier Otero, Alex Freeman, Abdi Salim, Jeorgio Kocevski, and Jack Lynn entered the lineup — along with OCB regular Wilfredo Rivera — replacing Carlos Mercado, Zakaria Taifi, Tahir Reid-Brown, Colin Guske, Thomas Bowe, and Justin Ellis. Of the six players replaced, only Guske and Ellis weren’t on the bench tonight.

The Young Lions lined up with Freeman, Nabi Kibunguchy, Salim, and Manuel Cocca in front of Otero. Kocevski and Imanol Almaguer were behind Rivera, Jhon Solis, and Yutaro Tsukada with Lynn as the lone striker.

This was a game of missed opportunities by OCB . The Young Lions dominated possession and chances throughout the 90 minutes, but rarely hit the target. Meanwhile, poor giveaways in bad areas gave the opposition chances and they were much more clinical.

OCB got the first couple of attacking opportunities, dribbling into the Miami box from the left. In the second minute, Tsukada sent a dangerous low cross into the Miami box, but it was cleared away. Five minutes later, the midfielder shielded Nykolas Sessock, who had a hold of his shirt, and found Rivera in front of goal. The former first-team player’s first touch was a shot towards goal, but he sent the attempt over the target.

Miami’s first chance came in the 12th minute when the South Florida side began a counter attack from a blocked Tsukada cross. Quick passing saw the ball sent long for Destin, who was in a foot race with Kibunguchy. The center back got to the ball first, but Destin won it from him and created a shot from outside the box. He shot for the far post and sent the ball wide.

While the Young Lions had most of the early possession and chances, it was Miami that took the lead. It began from a strong buildup, with Sessock receiving the ball on the right. Salim stepped up to block the defender’s cross, but it went right to Flores. The midfielder had plenty of time, sending the ball past Otero and inside the far post to give Miami a 1-0 lead.

OCB quickly went forward at the kickoff and created a chance of its own. In the 23rd minute, Tsukada sent a cross in for Rivera, but Tye Barton knocked it out of play for an OCB corner kick. Rivera’s set piece was headed down by Kibunguchy in the box, landing at the feet of Freeman. The right back quickly shot, but sent the attempt over the target from just outside of the six-yard box.

Rivera had a chance in the 30th minute as he carried the ball into the Miami box. He had Ricardo Montenegro all over him, but did well to shield the ball and get a shot off. Miami goalkeeper Cole Jensen didn’t have a chance to stop it as the ball headed towards his left post. Unfortunately for the Young Lions, the attempt bounced off the woodwork, enabling Miami to clear.

In the 31st minute, Lynn found Kocevski in the box. The rookie’s shot was blocked by Tyler Hall, but went right to Lynn. The 2023 MLS NEXT Pro Golden Boot winner took a shot of his own, but missed the target.

The Young Lions had another opportunity in the 41st minute when Cocca sent a dangerous cross into the box from the left. Rivera and Freeman were both there and attempted to get their heads on the ball, but it ended up in the arms of Jensen.

At the end of the first half, OCB had more shots (6-5), corners (6-1), and crosses (5-1). However, Miami put three shots on target while OCB was unable to put any on frame, a determining factor in why the Young Lions went into the break trailing rather than leading.

Miami had a golden opportunity to extend its lead just after halftime when, in the 48th minute, Salim gave the ball away to Flores as the last defender. The first-half goal scorer had a breakaway with Salim chasing behind, but sent his shot straight to Otero.

In the 51st minute, Almaguer’s headed clearance attempt went to Montenegro, who darted the other way. He played it wide for Destin, who found Ryan Carmichael at the far post. The forward brought it down with his thigh and shot, but Tsukada got in front and blocked the attempt.

Miami maintained the ball, playing it back into its own third. The Young Lions put pressure on the back line, forcing a turnover. A quick pass forward by Cocca for Lynn saw the striker dribbling inside to find space for a shot, but he missed the target wide right.

The Young Lions finally got a shot on target in the 56th minute. It was a wonderful individual effort by Rivera, who did well to beat Flores and get a shot off from about 25 yards out. The shot was hard and on target towards the top right corner, but Jensen was able to get in front and knock it out of play.

In the 57th minute, Freeman won the ball back quickly after losing it and sent Lynn behind the Miami back line. Barton caught up to the OCB striker and got in front, but Lynn used some quick movements to gain enough space to take a shot. He was looking for the far post from a tight angle, but missed wide.

Goldberg made his first change of the game in the 63rd minute and it was a like-for-like substitution as Shak Mohammed entered the game for Rivera.

Shortly after the substitution, OCB gave up a second goal. A quick pass on a 50-50 ball by Flores began a break for Carmichael. The forward found Destin between the center backs, enabling him to gain possession and get in on goal. Destin took the attempt well, beating Otero to his near post and giving Miami a 2-0 lead.

In the 68th minute, a short OCB corner created another good chance for the Young Lions. Tsukada sent the ball towards the back post where Kibunguchy headed it down. Lynn stuck his foot out to reach the ball, but sent it wide of the post.

Goldberg made three more changes in the 81st minute. Tsukada, Cocca, and Kocevski were replaced by Favian Loyola, Diego Pareja, and Tahir Reid-Brown.

Mohammed worked hard after coming on and created an opportunity for himself in the 90th minute. While making a long run from near midfield, no defenders stepped up. The attacker continued his run to the top of the Miami box and took a hard shot, but it was right to Jensen.

Three minutes into second-half stoppage time, Mohammed sent a great ball across the box with Lynn entering the six. The striker nearly redirected it on goal, but couldn’t quite reach the pass.

Seconds later, Loyola made a great turn to beat Destin. The forward caught back up to Loyola and pushed him down. The OCB substitute fell into the box, but the initial contact was just outside. Lynn stepped up to take the set piece, but drilled it into the wall.

Shortly after, Almaguer turned the ball over after a quick free kick. Miami went the other way with Destin leading the charge. As Williams and Kibunguchy sprinted back, Destin had second-half substitute Cristian Ortiz in the middle. Williams held Destin up just enough to allow Kibunguchy to block the pass away. Without the defensive efforts by Williams and Kibungucuhy, it would likely have been 3-0.

That was the last chance of the game for either team as the Young Lions lost for the first time in this young season. At full time, OCB had more shots (14-9), corners (13-4), and crosses (14-4), and better passing accuracy (85.6%-78.4%). However, the Young Lions only put two shots on target while Miami put five on frame, the difference in the 2-0 defeat.

After defeating Atlanta United 2 and drawing Huntsville City FC, OCB suffered its first loss of the season. While the Young Lions are still off to a decent start, this game will hurt because of the missed chances they had. It was a particularly tough game for Lynn, who had multiple opportunities in front of goal, but couldn’t put any of them on target.


The Young Lions will now head back out on the road for another two-game road trip, beginning in Pennsylvania against Philadelphia Union II next Thursday night.

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