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Orlando City B

Orlando City B vs. NYCFC II: Final Score 1-1 as OCB Claims an Unlikely Point



Orlando City B (2-4-3, 11 points) took an early lead but faltered and had to settle for a 1-1 draw against NYCFC II (5-3-3, 19 points) at Osceola County Stadium. Jack Lynn gave OCB the lead in the 14th minute, but John Denis equalized in the 62nd minute for NYCFC II. With the game ending in a draw, it went to penalties. Mauro Bravo’s shot off the crossbar was the difference in the shootout as NYCFC II took the extra point.

OCB Head Coach Martin Perelman only made two changes from the team that lost 5-3 to FC Cincinnati 2 last weekend. Alex Freeman is away with the U-19 U.S. Men’s National Team in Spain and Wilfredo Rivera is with the Puerto Rico senior national team as they begin their 2022-2023 Concacaf Nations League campaign. Owen Van Marter started for Freeman at left back and Nick Taylor took the place of Rivera.

OCB came out strong in this game, creating most of the early chances. However, NYCFC II worked its way into the game late in the first half, taking control of some poor passing by OCB. The visitors continued their dominance into the second half, eventually finding an equalizer.

The Young Lions can count themselves fortunate to come away with a point in this game as they were thoroughly outplayed in the latter stages of the first half and all through the second half. It’s probably fair that NYCFC II won the penalty shootout 5-3 and took home the extra point as the visitors were the better team in this one.

The first good chance of the game came in the third minute through an NYCFC II corner kick. Stephen Turnbull sent the ball towards the back post where it met the head of El Mahdi Youssoufi. The attacker got his head to the ball, but sent it just wide.

OCB broke the other way and almost had a chance of its own. Taylor was a consistent first-half threat on the right and sent a dangerous ball into the box for Lynn. However, NYCFC II goalkeeper Alex Rando beat the OCB striker to the ball.

In the sixth minute, Lynn found Taylor making a run down the right. The midfielder carried the ball towards the end line as Lynn made a run towards goal. It appeared as though Taylor would get his cross in, but Piero Elias blocked it out of play. The ensuing corner was to the near post, but NYCFC II intercepted and an offside ended the attack.

Moises Tablante nearly had an opportunity in the eighth minute as he darted down the left. He got into the NYCFC II box, but was tripped up and the visitors headed the other way on the counter attack. Youssoufi found Denis on the left side, but his shot was high and wide right of the target.

The ensuing goal kick was taken short to Andrew Forth, but the defender immediately gave it back to NYCFC II. The bad turnover in his own third allowed Turnbull to get a shot off, but it was right at Javier Otero.

The Young Lions came very close in the 10th minute when Lynn found Tablante making a run near the top of the box. The midfielder cut inside to lose his defender and shot on goal, but his shot was just over the crossbar and out for a goal kick.

Four minutes later, OCB broke through. Victor Yan won a free kick from about 35 yards out, which was taken by Taylor. The free kick was behind the NYCFC II back line, where Lynn was making a run. His first touch was a shot past Rando and in for the game’s first goal.

“That’s actually something we worked on yesterday in training,” Lynn said about his goal. “I knew that if I timed my run right, I’d be wide open on the near post. And once the ball came to me, I had plenty of time to just pick out a corner.”

This is the third straight game in which Lynn has scored. He previously had a hat trick against Inter Miami II on May 21 and a brace last weekend against FC Cincinnati 2. He now has six goals in his last three games. His eight goals on the season leads MLS NEXT Pro.

“I think he’s doing a great job,” Perelman said about Lynn’s scoring streak. “He’s working so hard for that.”

“I think my teammates have put me in really good positions to score,” Lynn said about his lead-leading goal tally. “And I think the coaching staff’s worked with me on refining some of my movements that have helped me get open too. And I think ultimately when I get chances, I’m a good enough player that I’m going to score the goals.”

Despite having the lead, the Young Lions didn’t let up. In the 18th minute, Tablante found Taylor to the right of goal. The midfielder attempted to curl the ball around Rando and inside the far post, but just missed.

Two minutes later, Elias got his head to a cross sent to the back post. However, the header was right at Otero, who made the easy stop.

OCB went the other way, looking to double the lead. Lynn found Tablante to his left on the counter attack and the attacker sent the ball across goal in what was likely a cross rather than a pass. However, the ball veered toward the far corner, forcing Rando to dive and tip the ball out of play for a corner kick.

The ensuing corner by Taylor was partially cleared away, but only to Ignacio Galvan at the top of the box. The outside back shot toward the low far corner, forcing Rando to get down and make a quality save, knocking the ball out of play.

After a pair of good chances by the Young Lions, Owen Van Marter took a shot from the top of the box that sailed out of play, allowing NYCFC II to finally clear.

OCB thought it had a penalty in the 27th minute when a long ball for Lynn saw the striker get tripped up in the NYCFC II box. Lynn threw his arms into the air, claiming a penalty, but the referee determined that it wasn’t a foul.

Following the no-call for Lynn, NYCFC II created multiple chances the other way. In the 28th minute, Denis found Jack Beer who fired on goal. But the shot was blocked. NYCFC II retained possession and Turnbull found Youssoufi, but his shot was saved by a diving Otero.

OCB was unable to completely clear the danger as Elias found space for a shot in the 31st minute. However, Otero was again there to make the stop, finally allowing OCB to clear.

The Young Lions were looking outside most of the first half, either for Taylor on the right or Tablante on the left. In the 41st minute, a long ball for Taylor nearly connected, but it was just a bit too far and Rando beat the midfielder to the ball.

OCB quickly won it back and sent it out left for Tablante. After a few dribbles, the third-year OCB midfielder played it across for Lynn, but it was too close to Rando and the goalkeeper made the grab.

Back the other way, NYCFC II created a couple of late chances as the game neared halftime. In the 43rd minute, Julian Gomez got his head to a Turnbull cross, but Otero did well to jump up over everyone in the box and make the catch.

Two minutes later, the visitors had their best chance of the first half. Denis found Beer to the left of goal and the midfielder shot on goal. The ball got past Otero’s outstretched hand but bounced off the crossbar.

OCB had one more chance to double its lead a minute into first-half stoppage time. Taylor sent a long cross for Tablante, who was making a run down the left, but it was too far and went out of play.

While the Young Lions had the best of the early minutes in the game, NYCFC II controlled most of the first half. The visitors had more possession (60%-40%), shots (10-6), shots on target (5-3), and crosses (9-5), as well as better passing accuracy (86.3%-72.5%). However, OCB benefited from Otero’s play in goal and NYCFC II’s lack of finishing, taking a 1-0 lead into the break.

As the second half started, it was as if OCB had remained in the locker room. NYCFC II got off to the better start and didn’t let up. In the first minute of the second period of play, Youssoufi found Gomez in the box, but the shot was right at Otero.

In the 48th minute, Brandon Hackenberg tripped Beer feet outside the box, resulting in Hackenberg being booked. Denis took the free kick but hit it right into the wall.

After OCB thought it should’ve had a penalty in the first half, NYCFC II had its own shout for one in the 52nd minute. An apparent kick to the back of the leg saw the attacker go down. The visiting team swarmed the referee, but his mind wasn’t going to change and OCB was awarded a goal kick.

As happened too frequently in this game, OCB was unable to hold onto the ball, giving it back to the opposition before the Young Lions could reach midfield. As a result, Elias had the opportunity to send a dangerous cross through the box just a minute after the penalty shout. Fortunately for OCB, nobody in orange was there.

In the 60th minute, Erick Gunera fouled Youssoufi in a scenario very similar to the foul earlier in the half. OCB argued the call, resulting in Victor Yan being booked, but the referee stood by his original decision.

Again, Denis took the free kick from a very dangerous position. However, while the first set piece was from the right, this one was from the left. Denis used his right foot to curl the ball around the OCB wall and inside the far post, beyond the outstretched arms of Otero to make it 1-1.

NYCFC II seemed emboldened by the equalizer, continuing to pressure the OCB back line. In the 64th minute, a quick buildup created a cross into the box. There were orange jerseys there, but Forth did well to block it away.

OCB quickly broke out on a counter attack the other way. Galvan found Lynn near the six-yard box and the striker fired on goal, but it was just wide left.

The Young Lions created another chance in the 71st minute when quick passing at the top of the box saw Tablante receive the ball on the left. He took a quick shot but the defender was able to get into position, blocking it out behind the goal.

The visitors nearly took their first lead of the night in the 77th minute when Youssoufi found Denis near the penalty spot. He attempted to beat Otero to the bottom left corner, but the OCB goalkeeper did an excellent job of getting down to make a diving one-handed save.

The corner by Diego Rossi found the head of Youssoufi in the box. He attempted to redirect it into the lower left corner but missed just wide.

OCB should’ve had an opportunity in the 85th minute when it broke out after Beer’s shot from outside the box was blocked. Lynn and Tablante played a quick one-two, resulting in the latter receiving the ball in the final third. However, he was unable to beat the final defender and it was blocked away.

Both teams had a late chance to claim the win before time ran out. In the 90th minute, Stevo Bednarsky took a shot from outside the box, but it was well high and wide.

On the other end, Bravo found Lynn near goal and the striker got his head to the ball, looking for his second goal of the night. But Rando did well to make the save and the game ended in a 1-1 draw.

NYCFC II dominated the second half. The visitors out-shot the Young Lions 9-2 and put more shots on goal (5-1) in the second 45 minutes. The visitors ended the game with more possession (57.2%-42.8%), shots (19-8), shots on goal (10-4), corners (7-5), crosses (16-9), and passing accuracy (83.5%-73%).

However, the Lions were able to keep NYCFC II off the board following the equalizer, securing a point. But MLS NEXT Pro rules state that games ending in a draw must go to a penalty shootout to see who gets the extra point. It was OCB’s third penalty shootout this season and the second against NYCFC II at Osceola County Stadium. The Young Lions were previously 2-0, with the other shootout win coming against New England Revolution II at Exploria Stadium.

“I think we did good the first half,” Perelman said after the game. “I mean, we could’ve won that half 4-0. We knew New York. We did the situation plan well. We created the situations. But we didn’t score. They played well, they’re a good team. We knew that there was a part of the game that they would take control of the ball. A set piece for them and then penalties is penalties. It was a tough game.”

“I think in the first half (we) executed our strategy pretty well,” Lynn added. “We were just unable to finish off a lot of the transition moments that we created with our pressure. And ultimately we got a goal. We’re up 1-0 at half and I think we would’ve been fine with just a 1-0 win. But they scored on a set piece and that’s always tough to take.”

The shootout went back and forth, with each of the first six shooters converting. While Otero was strong in previous shootouts, the OCB goalkeeper was sent the wrong way on every attempt in this one.

The deciding moment came in the fourth shot when 88th-minute substitute Bravo stepped up. One of the newer additions to the team, Bravo shot hard down the middle but the ball slammed off the crossbar.

Beer stepped up to take the fifth penalty for NYCFC II with a chance to end the game. As Otero dove to his left, Beer calmly played the ball right down the middle and the visitors claimed the extra point.

Despite losing the shootout, a point is more than the Young Lions deserved in this game. There were times where they looked good going forward, but they made too many mistakes, especially in the second half.

Without some heroics by their goalkeeper and some poor finishing by the opposition, they probably should’ve lost by multiple goals. However, they move their overall record to 2-4-3 on the season and 1-1-3 at home.

After a three-game homestand that saw the Young Lions go 1-1-1, OCB will now head out on a four-game road trip, lasting through the beginning of July. It starts next Saturday when the Young Lions face New England Revolution II at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA.

Orlando City B

Orlando City B Forward Jack Lynn Named MLS NEXT Pro MVP

Jack Lynn has been named the MLS NEXT Pro MVP, the first time an OCB player has received the award.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B / Mark Thor

MLS NEXT Pro announced today that Orlando City B striker Jack Lynn has been named the league’s Most Valuable Player. The forward’s 19 goals saw the second-year professional claim the Golden Boot alongside Colorado Rapids 2’s Remi Cabral and NYCFC II’s MD Myers.

Moving between the first team and OCB, Lynn took part in 26 of the team’s 28 regular-season games in 2023, starting 19 and recording 1,760 minutes. He came close to netting the first hat trick in OCB history, recording a brace five times this season. He had also already been named to the MLS NEXT Pro Best XI team, receiving that honor for the second consecutive season. While he wasn’t named Player of the Matchday at any point this year, he scored the Goal of the Matchday against Chicago Fire II on Matchday 18.

The striker found most of his success this year inside of the 18-yard box, scoring 16 of his 19 goals inside the area. He scored his 19 goals in 72 shots, converting the same number in fewer attempts than Cabral (76) and Myers (90) for a better conversion rate.

Lynn was an essential part of an OCB team that qualified for the MLS NEXT Pro playoffs for the first time and participated in the postseason for the second time in team history. Prior to the team’s fifth-place finish, the Young Lions had only made the playoffs during the 2016 USL season. In addition to becoming the second OCB team to make the playoffs, the squad’s 46 points is the highest point total and points per game (1.64) in team history.

The striker came into this season after scoring 15 goals in 2022, passing Michael Cox’s 11-goal 2016 season and setting the team’s single-season record. His rookie season performance resulted in Lynn being named an MVP finalist, Golden Boot runner up, and member of the Best XI team a season ago. His 35 goals over the past two seasons is the highest in MLS NEXT Pro’s two-season history.

Lynn joined Orlando City as its first-round draft pick (18th overall) in the 2022 MLS SuperDraft out of the University of Notre Dame. He made three first-team appearances in 2022 and three more in 2023, primarily playing for the club’s reserve side. He also went on loan to San Antonio FC of the USL Championship following the conclusion of the 2022 MLS NEXT Pro season.

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Orlando City B

Orlando City B vs. Columbus Crew 2: Final Score 2-1 as Young Lions Bow Out of Playoffs

OCB fought valiantly for most of the game, but the Young Lions conceded two penalties and that allowed the hosts to get the win.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B

Orlando City B’s 2023 MLS NEXT Pro season came to an end tonight in Ohio with a 2-1 loss to Columbus Crew 2 in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. The Young Lions responded to a first-half Noah Fuson goal on the rebound of a saved penalty with a strike by Franco Perez. But a second penalty was converted in second-half stoppage time by Marco Micaletto, ending the year for the Young Lions.

OCB Head Coach Martin Perelman made two changes from the team’s 2-1 win over FC Cincinnati 2 in the regular-season finale. Thomas Williams and Shak Mohammed entered the starting lineup in place of Abdi Salim and Wilfredo Rivera. Salim and Rivera were with the team in Ohio, starting on the bench.

The back line in front of Javier Otero was Perez, Williams, Nabi Kibunguchy, and Imanol Almaguer. Jhon Solis, Juninho, Cristian Medina, and Alex Freeman were in the midfield with Mohammed and Jack Lynn up top.

Like much of the season, this was a game of two halves for OCB. Columbus was the better team in the first 45 minutes and the Young Lions came out flying in the second half. Unfortunately, they couldn’t take advantage of their opportunities. A wild end of the game resulted in three red cards and a penalty, enabling the hosts to grab a late winner.

As expected, the hosts immediately went on the attack and created a couple of free kick opportunities. However, neither resulted in shots, enabling OCB to head the other way.

The Young Lions got the game’s first shot in the seventh minute when Perez found Lynn in the box with a long throw. It was a little too high for the MLS NEXT Pro golden boot winner and was easily caught by Crew 2 goalkeeper Stanislav Lapkes.

The hosts should’ve opened the scoring in the eighth minute when Jordan Knight’s low ball towards the top of the six-yard box was cleared out by Kibunguchy for a corner kick. The ensuing set piece by Coleman Gannon went over Otero, who badly misjudged it, and found the head of Micaletto, who was left wide open at the far post. Fortunately, the Crew 2 captain couldn’t get over the ball and sent it over the target from point-blank range.

The Young Lions had a great chance to open the scoring in the 14th minute when they won possession in their own end and broke the other way. Freeman took off with Lynn making a run alongside Crew 2’s last defender. Eventually, Freeman sent Lynn into the box and the striker got a shot off, but Lapkes did well to come off his line and block it with his foot.

After the ensuing throw-in was cleared out by Gibran Rayo for a corner kick, Juninho ended up with the ball outside of the box. He sent a curling ball towards the far post, but it was too close to Lapkes, who easily caught it.

In the 20th minute, OCB’s high press resulted in a turnover in the Crew 2 third. Solis carried the ball into the box and lifted it over the head of Lapkes. Lynn was making a run to the back post, but couldn’t reach it and the ball went out of play.

Crew 2 had an opportunity in the 26th minute, when Perez fouled Fuson just outside of the OCB box. Gannon’s free kick was cleared out, but only to Fuson. The midfielder took a long-distance shot, sending it right to Otero.

The hosts broke the deadlock in the 31st minute when Rayo cut inside from the right to get into the box. Juninho came in from behind and attempted a shoulder challenge, resulting in Rayo going down. Referee Abdou Ndiaye immediately pointed to the spot, awarding Crew 2 a penalty kick.

Rayo stepped up to the spot and sent the attempt to the left corner, but Otero guessed correctly and blocked it. Unfortunately, the Young Lions were slow to respond, allowing Fuson and Rayo to reach the free ball. Both attempted to send it on goal and Otero had no chance as the hosts took a 1-0 lead.

Fuson and Rayo celebrated the goal as if they’d scored, but Fuson was determined to have gotten the last touch.

Rather than falling apart, OCB responded well and found a quick equalizer. In the 37th minute, a long ball by Almaguer down the right for Freeman was played back to Mohammed. The forward spotted Perez making an overlapping run to his left and sent him into the Crew 2 box. Perez hit the ball as hard as he could and on target, giving Lapkes no chance to stop it.

In the 44th minute, Rayo was sent behind the OCB defense on the right side of the box. The midfielder shot from a tight angle, but Otero got down to block it away with his foot.

The half ended with a little bit of controversy as the referee allowed the game to continue beyond the one added minute while Crew 2 continued their attack. OCB won possession and began to break the other way with numbers, but Ndiaye ended the half. Lynn and Medina questioned the official about the decision, but to no avail as the half ended at 1-1.

OCB had slightly more possession in the first 45 minutes (50.2%-49.8%), but Crew 2 had more chances, taking more shots (6-3) and putting more on target (4-3). Additionally, Crew 2 had more crosses (8-4). OCB passed more accurately (87.4%-84.5%), and both teams had two corner kicks.

The Young Lions had the first second-half opportunity when Perez played the ball past Fuson and was pulled down. The free kick was to an open Perez on the right side of the box, but the left back couldn’t control it. It was fortunate for the hosts because Perez would’ve had a chance at goal.

OCB had another opportunity in the 54th minute when Williams sent a long ball for Perez on the left. He had Mohammed making a run down the middle of the field, but the cross was too far in front and went all the way through the box.

Crew 2 was unable to get the ball out of its own end due to the high press and OCB won possession. Rayo immediately fouled Almaguer and was booked for the challenge. The ensuing free kick by Almaguer found the head of Solis in the box, but his flick towards goal went wide of the far post.

In the 67th minute, Perez was sent down the left again. Crew 2 hadn’t been covering the middle of the box during similar plays, but nobody had been filling that space. This time, Mohammed was there and Perez attempted to lay it back for him. Unfortunately, it was blocked out of play by Abdi Mohamed. The corner kick by Solis found Juninho, but the captain’s shot was off target.

Perelman made a surprising change after the miss, OCB’s first substitution of the game. Despite a 1-1 score, Lynn, the team’s all-time leading scorer, was replaced by Rivera.

In the 72nd minute, Juninho lifted a ball behind the Crew 2 defense for Mohammed. The forward reached it before it got to the end line and played it across the face of goal. He was looking for Rivera, but the substitute had stopped his run and the ball went harmlessly through the box.

Perelman made two more changes in the 75th minute. Moises Tablante and Cristofer Acuna entered the game for Perez and Mohammed.

In the 88th minute, a bad pass out of the back was intercepted by Thomas Roberts, a late second-half substitute. The midfielder dribbled into the OCB box and was taken down by Juninho. Ndiaye didn’t hesitate to point to the spot for the second time in the game, giving the hosts their second penalty.

Emotions overheated after the decision with plenty of pushing and shoving between the two teams. Eventually, Ndiaye issued red cards to Acuna and Rayo, putting both teams down to 10 men.

When everything settled down, Micaletto stepped up to take the penalty. The Crew 2 captain sent Otero the wrong way, putting it into the corner and giving Crew 2 a late 2-1 lead.

The fourth official showed seven added minutes, providing OCB with plenty of time to find a second equalizer. However, Perelman inexplicably sent his goalkeeper up to the Crew 2 box with several minutes remaining.

The Young Lions lost possession in the Crew 2 box and the hosts started to head the other way. Otero, who had already been booked just before the second penalty, fouled Mataeo Bunbury from behind. Ndiaye pulled out his yellow card, sending Otero off and limiting the Young Lions to nine men.

As a result, Perelman had to make one final substitution to bring on back up goalkeeper Dominic Pereira. The unfortunate player making way was Freeman. Down a man and a goal, OCB was only able to create one last chance in the ninth minute of stoppage time. Solis found Rivera in the box, but it was over the goal. That was the last chance of the game as the Young Lions’ 2023 season came to an end.

At full time, Crew 2 had more possession (53.5%-46.5%), shots (10-7), shots on target (5-3), corner kicks (7-5), and crosses (11-10), and passed more accurately (88%-84.8%). Despite trailing in the statistics, the Young Lions had chances to win the game and a bad pass out of the back and a pair of fouls in the area by their captain ended their season.

While the ending to the season is disappointing, 2023 was OCB’s best campaign in its six-year history. The Young Lions ended the regular season on 46 points, the most in team history. Their fifth-place finish was also their best in team history, and they qualified for a postseason for the second time.

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Orlando City B

Orlando City B vs. FC Cincinnati 2: Final Score 2-1 as OCB Clinches Fifth in Eastern Conference with Home Win

OCB closed out the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro regular season with a 2-1 win over FC Cincinnati 2 in Kissimmee.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B / Mark Thor

KISSIMMEE — Orlando City B (13-10-5, 46 points) beat FC Cincinnati 2 (7-17-4, 27 points) 2-1 in its regular-season finale at Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee this afternoon. Jack Lynn gave OCB the lead in the 16th minute with his league-leading 19th goal of the season. Ryan Belal equalized in the 61st minute, but Shak Mohammed scored shortly after, netting the winning goal. The win secures the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference for the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro playoffs.

OCB Head Coach Martin Perelman made three changes to the team that drew 1-1 with Chicago Fire II on Sept. 15. Abdi Salim and Lynn returned to OCB from the first team and were joined in the lineup by Wilfredo Rivera. They replaced Thomas Williams, Moises Tablante, and Mohammed. 

The back line in front of goalkeeper Javier Otero was Imanol Almaguer, Nabi Kibunguchy, Salim, and Franco Perez. Alex Freeman, Cristian Medina, Juninho, and Jhon Solis were in the midfield with Rivera and Lynn up top.

OCB dominated this game from the start, creating far more chances than Cincinnati. The Young Lions should have put the game away in the first half, but let the visitors hang around. It looked like they would pay for that when Cincinnati found an equalizer in the second half. But an inspired substitution right after the goal resulted in a quick response and the winning strike.

As usual, the Young Lions tried to get off to a fast start. Solis played Perez down the left inside the first minute with Lynn and Rivera making runs into the box. It was hard to tell if Perez was trying to shoot or cross, but he sent the ball wide of the near post.

OCB had its second chance of the game in the sixth minute when Salim Adams fouled Juninho near the top of the Cincinnati box. The OCB captain stood over the ball with Medina before Juninho stepped up to take the kick. He got the ball over the wall, but it was into the arms of Cincinnati goalkeeper Hunter Morse.

In the 10th minute, Nicholas McHenry cleared the ball out of play, giving OCB another chance from the corner. Perez’s set piece found the head of Kibunguchy in the box, but the center back couldn’t get over it, sending the attempt over the crossbar.

The visitors got their first chance of the game in the 13th minute when Gerardo Valenzuela took a long-distance shot from well outside of the box. It didn’t cause any trouble for Otero, going well over the goal.

The Young Lions finally converted in the 16th minute. Haroun Conteh fouled Perez to the left of goal and about 25 yards away. Rivera stepped up to take the set piece, sending the cross to the top of the six-yard box where Lynn outjumped everyone, reaching it first and heading it past Morse to give OCB the 1-0 lead.

The goal was Lynn’s 19th of the season, passing NYCFC II’s Matt Myers to give the striker the MLS NEXT Pro golden boot lead, although Myers went on to score from the penalty spot in his team’s win over Inter Miami 2.

“My teammates are putting me in good positions to score,” Lynn said about his 19 goals. “That’s the most important thing.”

OCB nearly had another goal two minutes later when Juninho was sent behind the Cincinnati defense. He took a couple of touches before unleashing a shot, but those touches provided enough time for a defender to slide in and block it away.

Cincinnati had trouble gaining possession in the OCB half during the first 20 minutes, but Adams found space for a pair of long-distance shots in the 24th and 28th minutes. The midfielder was able to keep both shots down, but they went well wide of the target. Between those chances, Valenzuela attempted to play Belal into the OCB box, but Kibunguchy did well to get his foot in front of the pass.

Rivera showed off his individual skill in the 34th minute, using a nifty spin to create space for a shot. The move left Adams on the ground, but Rivera’s shot was over the crossbar.

In the 38th minute, Cincinnati used some quick passing that enabled Jesus Castellano to play Belal through. However, the ball was too close to Otero and the OCB goalkeeper collected it.

On the other end, Perez made a long run towards the Cincinnati box and played the ball through for Rivera. Morse reacted quickly, jumping off his line to reach the pass before Rivera could get to it.

OCB created a couple of chances in first-half stoppage time, but weren’t close. A foul on Rivera resulted in a short free kick to Solis. The midfielder took a shot at goal, but sent it high. Shortly after, Medina played Lynn into the Cincinnati box. The striker cut inside to lose his defenders, but slipped. He attempted to recover and shoot, but was off balance and sent the ball high and wide of the target.

The Young Lions dominated the first half and probably should’ve had a multi-goal lead. After 45 minutes of action, OCB had more possession (61.9%-38.1%), shots (9-4), shots on target (2-0), corner kicks (3-0), and crosses (3-1), and passed more accurately (91.1%-84.8%).

OCB had the first attack of the second half and a great chance to double the lead. Rivera flicked the ball into the box, where Perez had gotten behind his defender. The left back was first to the ball, but waited too long to shoot. Center back Joey Akpunonu was able to get in front of the shot, blocking it out of play.

Looking to seal the golden boot, Lynn took a chance in the 50th minute. He was sent forward by Freeman and took a curling shot on the run from outside of the box, but sent it well wide of the target.

FC Cincinnati 2 had its first good chance shortly after, when Kibunguchy fouled Castellano outside of the OCB box. Valenzuela stepped up to take the free kick and went for goal, but sent the attempt over the target.

The Ohio-based team had another set piece just outside of the OCB box in the 56th minute when Castellano was taken down by Rivera. Castellano took the set piece, but sent it straight into the wall, enabling OCB to clear.

In the 58th minute, a low Cincinnati cross into the box was blocked out of play by Kibunguchy. The ensuing corner kick was cleared and OCB broke on the counter attack. Morse was off his line and Rivera took the opportunity to send a long shot from midfield. It got over the head of the Cincinnati goalkeeper, but drifted wide.

Despite being outplayed, FC Cincinnati 2 found an equalizer in the 61st minute. Valenzuela played Belal to the top of the OCB box and the forward did well to cut back, losing the sliding Salim. His first touch after the move was a hard shot past Otero to even the game at 1-1.

Immediately after the goal, Perelman made his first two changes of the game. Tablante and Mohammed came on for Freeman and Rivera.

It didn’t take long for the Young Lions to respond, retaking the lead two minutes later through one of the substitutes. Receiving a short pass from Juninho just inside of the box, Mohammed felt the defender closing in on him and spun to create space for a shot. It was a difficult angle, but he beat Morse to give the Young Lions a 2-1 lead.

Cincinnati almost had a second equalizer in the 67th minute when Valenzuela had space to shoot from inside of the OCB box. The midfielder didn’t miss by much, sending a hard shot just over the crossbar.

Solis was even closer in the 69th minute. Receiving the ball just outside of the Cincinnati box, the midfielder sent a curling shot beyond the outreached arms of Morse and off the crossbar.

Otero didn’t have a lot to do in this game, but he was called into action in the 73rd minute. Valenzuela received the ball at the top of the box from Jiovanny Mora and sent a low attempt that was heading inside the near post. The OCB goalkeeper dove to his right, tipping it wide.

Solis had another good chance in the 75th minute when he took a shot from outside of the Cincinnati box. The ball appeared to be heading in, but Morse got his fingertips to it, tipping it over the crossbar.

A minute later, OCB hit the crossbar for the second time in the second half. This time it was Mohammed, looking for a brace. The forward received the ball on the right and was aiming for the far corner, but the ball bounced off the crossbar, keeping the score at 2-1.

The Young Lions continued to push for a third goal to put the game away. In the 85th minute Perez took a shot from distance. It was on target but right to Morse. A minute later, Juninho made a nice run into the box, split his defenders, and shot on goal. However, Morse was up to the challenge, getting down to block the attempt out of play.

Attempting to hold onto the one-goal lead, Perelman made three defensive changes in the final minutes. Zakaria Taifi and Dominic Bell entered the game in the 88th minute for Juninho and Medina. The final change came in the 90th minute as Thomas Bowe replaced Solis.

The fourth official showed three minutes of second-half stoppage time and the Young Lions controlled the final minutes. FC Cincinnati 2 was unable to get any possession and OCB saw the game out, winning its final regular-season game of 2023.

At full time, OCB had more possession (58.6%-41.4%), shots (18-12), shots on target (6-3), corners (7-3), and crosses (7-6), and passed more accurately (89.5%-84.6%). Cincinnati was much more threatening in the second half but rarely put Otero under pressure. It should’ve been a more comfortable win, but the Young Lions took all three points.

“It was a difficult game to play. We wanted to finish the regular season with a win at home because I think and I believe that the victories here were a big part of the regular season and allowed us to clinch the five position,” Perelman said. “So, we’re happy with the result and the performance as well and are ready for the playoffs.”

“It was good. It was a hot one,” Lynn added. “I think we did a good job controlling our energy. You know, picking our moments when to play fast, when to play slow. And it’s always good to get a win.”

More importantly, the win saw the Young Lions clinch the fifth seed in the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro playoffs. As a result, they’ll face whoever the second and third seeds don’t choose as their opponent.

“I want to achieve the maximum possible with this team. I believe in this group of players. I believe in all the staff, our managers, our first team here in Orlando,” Perelman said. “There’s a big family with a team mentality doing strong work. So, I hope we can put this team as high as possible because I believe it will be fair for all of us.”

“I think we can play better than anyone. It’s just if we show up on the day or not,” Lynn added about the team’s chances in the playoffs. “So, being focused going into every game is going to be super important for us.”

OCB will begin its first MLS NEXT Pro playoff campaign, and second postseason ever, next weekend on the road against a yet-to-be-named opponent.

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