After taking a year off waiting for the new MLS NEXT Pro league to start, Orlando City B returned to action this season. The team is made up of different types of players, including first-team Homegrown signings, MLS SuperDraft picks, and academy products. With two games remaining in the season, let’s take a look at the five OCB players most likely to sign first-team deals with Orlando City.
If you’ve been paying attention to OCB this season, some key players won’t be included in this list, like Thomas Williams, Alex Freeman, and Jack Lynn. These are players already under contract with the first team. However, some players might have played minutes for the first team but have yet to sign a first-team contract.
MLS has odd rules when it comes to player acquisitions with allocation orders and discovery lists. The easiest players to sign are Homegrown Players and draft picks. As a result, the club already has the MLS rights to these five players, making it easier and more likely for them to sign.
So without further ado, here are my five OCB players most likely to sign first team deals with Orlando City.
Javier Otero, Goalkeeper
The 19-year-old Venezuelan goalkeeper is in his second season with OCB. He backed up draft pick Austin Aviza during the 2020 USL League One season and started one game. However, he’s come into his own as one of the best goalkeepers in MLS NEXT Pro this year. Otero’s 31 goals against this season are fourth-highest in MLS NEXT Pro, but his 100 saves top the league by 41 stops.
Currently, Orlando City’s goalkeepers are Pedro Gallese, Mason Stajduhar, and Adam Grinwis, in that order. Grinwis has played for OCB this season but struggled, clearly outplayed by Otero, although it’s fair to say Grinwis had some rust after not seeing much action. Otero is even more likely to sign with the first team if Gallese leaves after this season, the final year of his contract. If the club believes Stajduhar can start, I can definitely see Otero being signed as his backup.
Favian Loyola, Forward
The breakout performer in the field this season has been Loyola. Originally on an academy deal, Loyola signed an MLS NEXT Pro contract with the club last week. He’s only come into the spotlight recently with more playing time but has looked terrific. He came to the attention of most when he was named the MLS NEXT All-Star Game MVP in August.
Loyola has looked particularly strong in tight spaces. The 17-year-old forward is good with the ball at his feet and doesn’t lose it easily. He’s also shown an ability to create space for shots near the top of the box. The teenager is still developing and it might be a couple of years before he’s ready for MLS, but right now I’d say he’s the field player most likely to eventually make that jump.
Moises Tablante, Forward
Tablante made his OCB debut in 2019 and immediately made a splash as a teenager. Following the 2019 and 2020 USL League One seasons, he looked like the most likely OCB to sign a Homegrown deal. However, the club had other plans. During the 2020 season, he started playing at left back. He continued that role for OC Academy U23 during the United Premier Soccer League season. But it ultimately didn’t work out and he’s back to his natural role this year.
The 21-year-old forward is really good going forward but has struggled a bit in the final third. He’ll beat three defenders only to lose the ball in space once in the box. If he isn’t signed to a first-team contract following the 2022 season, he could end up moving elsewhere. Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja mentioned this possibility following his appearance in the friendly against Arsenal FC in July, stating that if he isn’t ready for the first team soon, it could be the end of his tenure in Orlando.
Regardless, Tablante has been one of OCB’s best attacking threats. The offense typically runs through him and he has been able to create scoring opportunities in every game he’s played this year. Had the club not tried to force him into the left back position, he might have already signed a Homegrown deal.
Brandon Hackenberg, Defender
Hackenberg was drafted by Orlando City with the 22nd overall pick in the 2021 MLS SuperDraft out of Penn State. He returned for a final year of college in 2021 before signing for OCB this season. The defender has played right back, center back, and left back for the team at times this season, being productive at each. That versatility could prove beneficial for the team in the future.
The position Hackenberg would most likely fill if signed to a first-team deal would be center back. The team has already signed Mikey Halliday and Alex Freeman to Homegrown deals but has struggled with center back depth this year. While he likely wouldn’t sign until the off-season at the earliest, and he isn’t the most likely signing from OCB, I could see the club signing the draft selection to provide some center back depth for the first team.
David Boccuzzo, Defender
The fifth player that I think could sign a Homegrown deal is another center back. Boccuzzo started the 2022 MLS NEXT Pro season as OCB’s captain and leader of the back line before leaving to play at the University of Louisville. Boccuzzo looked good early in the year and showed an ability to push up field, which has been seen with Orlando City’s center backs. He also captained the U-17 team to the MLS NEXT championship in 2021.
It will probably be a couple of years before Boccuzzo would come back to Orlando to sign a professional contract with the club. The 18-year-old defender will likely spend at least two or three years at Louisville and the club will undoubtedly be keeping a close eye on him while he’s in school. If he continues to develop, he could help with the team’s lack of center back depth in the future.
These are the five current OCB players who I think are most likely to sign first-team contracts. If you’ve been watching OCB this year, which players do you think will join the first team? Let us know in the comments below.
Orlando City B at Chicago Fire II: Final Score 1-1 as OCB Clinches Playoff Spot
OCB clinches its first MLS NEXT Pro playoff appearance with a 1-1 draw and shootout win over Chicago Fire II.
Orlando City B (12-10-5, 43 points) secured its first playoff appearance in MLS NEXT Pro and second in team history with a 1-1 draw against Chicago Fire II (9-8-10, 41 points) in Illinois. Sergio Oregel gave the hosts the lead in the 17th minute, but Chicago was unable to double the advantage. OCB had a much better second half, and substitute Wilfredo Rivera equalized in the 71st minute. The Young Lions won the ensuing penalty shootout, 4-3, to return home with two points.
OCB Head Coach Martin Perelman made two changes to the team that drew 1-1 with New England Revolution II last weekend. It appears that Abdi Salim and Jack Lynn are both with the first team preparing for the match tomorrow night, replaced in the lineup by Thomas Williams and Jhon Solis, who returned after serving his suspension against New England.
The Young Lions went with their typical 4-4-2 formation in this game. The starting back line in front of goalkeeper Javier Otero was Franco Perez, Williams, Nabi Kibunguchy, and Imanol Almaguer. Cristian Medina, Juninho, Alex Freeman, and Moises Tablante were in the midfield with Shak Mohammed and Solis up top.
Chicago was by far the better team in the first 30 minutes and could’ve been up multiple goals before OCB took its first shot. But it remained 1-0 at halftime, enabling the Young Lions to get back into the game. A strong second-half team all year, OCB did it again, dominating the second 45 minutes to pull level.
The game got off to a slow start with neither team creating any dangerous chances. Charlie Ostrem took a long-distance shot in the second minute and Eric Leonard in the 11th minute, but both were blocked. In the 12th minute, Oregel played the ball to the top of the box for Missael Rodriguez, but his shot missed wide.
The hosts nearly opened the scoring in the 15th minute when Billy Hency dribbled into the OCB box for the second time. He cut inside to lose Perez — who reached his right leg out but didn’t get enough of the ball — and shot for the near post. Otero dove to his left, tipping the ball wide.
Chicago broke through in the 17th minute when Rodriguez received the ball in the middle of the field. He played it for Oregel, who continued the ball out right for Hency. The midfielder’s pass for Rodrigeuz was behind and it looked like OCB might clear. Dylan Borso and Juninho both went after the ball and it bounced off Borso’s arm, but referee Calin Radosav didn’t call it. The ball went back to Oregel, who put it past Otero to give the Fire a 1-0 lead.
In the 22nd minute, Hency found Luka Prpa at the top of the OCB box. Prpa’s shot was rising as it neared the OCB goal and Otero reached up for it, but the attempt ultimately went over the crossbar.
The Young Lions finally created their first attack in the 26th minute. Juninho made a long run into the Chicago box and centered the ball for Mohammed near the penalty spot. The pass was behind the forward, so Mohammed played it to Tablante on his left. Tablante made some moves to create space for a shot, but Hency did well to stay in front and blocked the attempt.
OCB was able to create some more opportunities from set pieces but was unable to convert. In the 31st minute, Prpa fouled Freeman, earning a yellow card. The free kick by Almaguer was into the box, but cleared away.
Three minutes later, Borso fouled Solis about 25 yards from goal. Almaguer was expected to lift another cross into the box, but quickly stepped up to the ball and fired on goal, attempting to catch the defense off guard. However, his shot skied over the crossbar and was never a threat for Chicago goalkeeper Jeff Gal.
Juninho found Tablante to his left in the 35th minute, but the midfielder’s second shot of the half was blocked. That was the last first-half chance for either team as the game went to the break with Chicago leading 1-0.
Possession was almost even in the first 45 minutes, with Chicago holding a slight edge (50.1%-49.9%). But the Fire created most of the chances, ending the first half with more shots (6-3), shots on target (2-0), and crosses (4-1). OCB passed more accurately (88.4%-85%) and both teams won two corner kicks.
Perelman made a surprising halftime change, replacing the team’s second-leading goal scorer Mohammed with Cristofer Acuna. Immediately after the kickoff, the Fire created a chance when Oregel sent Rodriguez behind the OCB defense. The forward was pushed wide, but got away a shot on target. Otero was guarding his near post and got down to make the stop.
OCB created its first shot on target in the 49th minute from Perez just outside of the Chicago box. It forced Gal to dive to his left and tip the ball wide for a corner kick. The ensuing short corner resulted in an Oregel foul on Juninho just outside of the Chicago 18. Almaguer sent a curling cross towards the back post, but it was too high for Williams to put it on target, glancing off the top of his head.
As he’s done several times this year, Juninho attempted to drag his team back into the game as it neared the hour mark. In the 51st minute, the OCB captain dribbled into the box and shot, but it was right at Gal. Five minutes later, the midfielder took an ambitious shot from outside of the box. He kept it low, but it was right to Gal who made the easy save.
Perelman made his second change in the 61st minute and it was a forward for a defender. Rivera came on for left back Perez, resulting in Tablante dropping back to left back, where he’s played frequently since 2020.
It looked like OCB would have a great chance in the 64th minute when Juninho was sent forward to the top of the Chicago box. After a challenge with the defender, Juninho went down. Both teams stopped, expecting Radosav to call the foul, but he decided there wasn’t enough contact.
An unusual and confusing situation occurred in the 67th minute when Kibunguchy and Rodriguez got together near the OCB box. The Young Lions ended up with the ball and went on the counter attack. After failing to create anything, Radosav halted the game as Rodriguez was still down. He gave Kibunguchy a yellow card for the collision and Perelman a yellow for dissent after the play.
OCB had been the more threatening team in the second half and found the equalizer in the 71st minute. Receiving the ball from Tablante near the end line, Juninho sent a low pass to Rivera at the top of the six-yard box. But it hit the foot of Prpa and popped up for Rivera. The second-half substitute’s diving header went past Gal to even the game at 1-1.
The Young Lions had more chances in the 75th minute when Tablante saved the ball from going out of play, but his pass into the middle was blocked out by Ueland for a corner kick. The short set piece ended up with Freeman in the box and his shot was blocked for another corner. This one didn’t result in an OCB shot as Chicago won a goal kick.
In the 81st minute, Hency found Rodriguez going forward. Rodriguez took a shot shortly after entering the box, but it was blocked out of play by Williams for a corner kick. That was the last action for Rodriguez as he was immediately replaced.
The corner ended up with Matteo Kidd, who took a hard shot from distance. It looked like it would’ve been on target, but Williams came charging in to block it, enabling OCB to clear the danger.
On the other end, OCB nearly took its first lead of the night. With his back to goal at the top of the box, Juninho laid the ball off for the oncoming Solis. The midfileder’s first touch was a hard shot towards the near post, but it went just wide.
In the 90th minute, Hency cleared the ball out of play for an OCB corner kick. The set piece found the foot of Kibunguchy in the box and the center back’s first touch was a shot. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get over it, sending the ball well over the target.
The Young Lions nearly scored a winner in the third minute of stoppage time when Tablante sent a cross towards the back post. It looked to be too close to Gal, but went over his head and off the far post. The Chicago defense nearly headed it into the goal but it went just wide for a corner. That was the last chance as the game ended 1-1.
At full time, OCB had more possession (54.2%-45.8%), shots (12-11), corners (9-2), and crosses (7-5), and passed more accurately (87%-83.8%). Chicago put more shots on target (4-3), but only one past Otero.
NYCFC II’s draw and shootout win over Toronto FC II earlier in the evening meant that the Young Lions only needed a point to clinch a spot in the MLS NEXT Pro playoffs. It’s the first time they’ve seen the postseason in the young league and the second time they’ve made the postseason in team history.
While they did their job and clinched a playoff spot, the draw meant the game would go to penalties to see which team got an extra point. Freeman started the shootout by putting his attempt into the corner. Prpa stepped up for Chicago and also went for the corner. But Otero guessed correctly and stopped it to give OCB the lead after one round.
Medina took the second attempt for the Young Lions and went right down the middle. Gal dove to his left, but left his legs back enough to block the attempt. Defender Noah Egan put his penalty past Otero to make it 1-1 after two rounds.
The shootout settled down after that with Juninho, Solis, and Acuna comfortably netting their penalties. Michael Nesci sent Otero the wrong way, but the 20-year-old goalkeeper nearly ended it in the fourth round when he got a hand to Justin Reynolds’ attempt. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get enough of it to keep it out.
After Acuna put his shot into the roof to give the Young Lions the fifth-round lead, Ostrem stepped up needing to convert. He put his attempt down the middle, nearly identical to Medina earlier. However, Otero was able to keep his legs back, blocking the shot and OCB took two points on the night.
OCB remains in fifth place with one game remaining in the regular season and can’t catch Columbus Crew 2 for fourth. However, the Young Lions still have plenty to play for next weekend. They can still finish fifth, sixth, or seventh, potentially determining if they can get a home game in the postseason.
The Young Lions will return home to end their second MLS NEXT Pro regular season next Sunday when they face FC Cincinnati 2 at Osceola County Stadium.
Orlando City B vs. New England Revolution II: Final Score 1-1 as OCB Draws and Falls in Penalties
OCB erases a halftime deficit to draw 1-1 with New England Revolution II, but the hosts grab the extra point for winning the shootout.
Orlando City B (12-10-4, 41 points) played poorly in the first half, but fought back valiantly in the second to draw New England Revolution II (14-5-8, 56 points) 1-1 at Gillette Stadium. The hosts dominated the first half, taking the lead through Victor Souza in the 14th minute. But they missed several golden opportunities to double the advantage, and Jack Lynn equalized in the 65th minute. The game went into penalties to decide the extra point, with New England winning the shootout 3-2.
OCB Head Coach Martin Perelman made two changes to the team that lost 6-3 to Crown Legacy FC Sunday night. Moises Tablante entered the starting lineup at left back in place of Franco Perez, who started on the bench. Jhon Solis, who had started every game this season, was suspended after being sent off the last time these two teams met on Aug. 9. He was replaced in the lineup by Lynn.
Starting in their usual 4-4-2 formation, the back line in front of Javier Otero was Imanol Almaguer, Nabi Kibunguchy, Abdi Salim, and Tablante. Alex Freeman, Cristian Medina, Juninho, and Wilfredo Rivera were in the midfield, with Lynn and Shak Mohammed up top.
This was a game of two halves for the Young Lions. They were lifeless in the first 45 minutes and should’ve been down multiple goals if not for some poor finishing by the opposition. They took advantage of the opportunity and played much better in the second half, resulting in an equalizer. Despite failing to secure a playoff spot tonight, they brought themselves closer to making the postseason for just the second time in team history.
OCB controlled possession in the first few minutes, but it was New England that created the chances. In the fifth minute, Colby Quinones found Damian Rivera running behind the OCB defense. It looked like the midfielder would get a shot off, but Kibunguchy did well defending and knocked it out for a corner kick. Jake Rozhansky’s ensuing set piece was too close to Otero, who caught it.
In the seventh minute, forward Joshua Bolma got his first attempt when he cut back inside from the right to lose Tablante and create enough space for a shot. However, it was right to Otero, who made the easy save.
Rivera had his second opportunity in the eighth minute when he received the ball at the top of the OCB box. The 20-year-old midfielder cut inside to lose Almaguer and shot towards the near post, but it skipped just wide.
OCB had its first chance of the game in the 12th minute when Juninho made a long run into the New England box. He had Mohammed and Lynn flanking him, but decided to take it himself. With two defenders closing in, Juninho shot to the near post but missed wide, which became a theme for the Brazilian throughout the match and into the shootout.
In the 14th minute, Almaguer got in front of a New England shot, blocking it out for a corner kick. Rozhansky took the set piece, sending over the head of Noble Okello and Jordan Adebayo-Smith at the near post and into the center of the six-yard box. Souza darted to the ball, beating Medina and Kibunguchy. It was an awkward attempt by the defender and difficult to tell whether it came off his head, chest, or foot, but went inside the near post to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.
The Young Lions tried to play the ball out of the back, but a turnover in his own third by Lynn provided another opportunity for New England. Rivera took possession, sprinted to the top of the OCB box, and found Bolma to his left. The forward attempted to curl the ball inside the far post beyond the reach of Otero, but missed just wide.
New England should’ve scored a second goal in the 22nd minute when Bolma received the ball on the right side of the box. He quickly sent a low cross in for Adebayo-Smith, who was left uncovered at the far post. The ball popped up on the artificial turf, bouncing off the striker and wide. It was a fortunate bounce for the Young Lions because the ball just as easily could’ve bounced off his chest and in.
Rivera had his third chance of the game in the 25th minute when he received the ball on the left. The midfielder took two touches to lose his defender and took a snap-shot on goal. Fortunately, the strong shot was right to Otero, who blocked it away with both hands. No attacking players were nearby, so OCB was able to clear.
In the 27th minute, Rozhansky entered the box and got behind Juninho. The OCB captain didn’t recognize the New England midfielder sneaking behind him, enabling Rozhansky to get his head on the Bolma cross. Otero’s positioning was perfect for the wide-open attempt and the header was right to the OCB goalkeeper.
Juninho made his second long run to the New England box in the 43rd minute. Similar to his earlier run, the OCB captain shot from the top of the 18, but sent it wide. It didn’t appear to touch any defenders, but the referee awarded a corner kick. OCB struggled to create chances from the set piece, eventually sending a shot right to New England goalkeeper Max Weinstein.
Otero has been solid for OCB this season but almost made a huge blunder in the 45th minute. The goalkeeper came out of his box, but was beaten to the ball by Marcos Dias. Cutting inside to create space for a shot, the midfielder sent the ball on goal. Fortunately, Salim was there to head it over the top and out of play, keeping the halftime deficit at one.
OCB had more first-half possession (56.7%-43.3%) and crosses (5-2) and passed more accurately (88%-86.5%). However, most of the Young Lions’ possession and passes were in the midfield rather than the final third. Rather than crossing into the box, New England found pockets of space for chances, resulting in more shots (11-5) and shots on target (6-0).
Perelman made one halftime change, replacing Wilfredo Rivera with Perez. The substitution pushed Tablante from left back into the midfield.
OCB nearly had a chance in the 49th minute when Mohammed played the ball out wide for Freeman. The Homegrown midfielder sent a low cross into the box, where Lynn attempted to turn and shoot, but the ball got caught in his feet.
Lynn had another chance in the 51st minute when Tablante found him in the box. The striker took a first-touch shot that skied over the target. Lynn had more time than he realized for a touch before shooting, but took it first time.
In the 55th minute, Mohammed took an ambitious shot from long range that appeared to be heading well wide. Weinstein dove to his left anyway and blocked the ball out of play, giving OCB a corner kick.
New England headed the ball away, which went to Adebayo-Smith and only Perez back. The striker touched the ball past the left back to get behind the entire defense. Otero came out of his box to near midfield, where he collided with Adebayo-Smith, heading it the opposite direction. Otero popped right up after the big collision, but Adebayo-Smith remained down and required medical attention.
Playing with a man advantage while Adebayo-Smith was treated on the sideline, OCB had a chance to equalize in the 61st minute when Mohammed played the ball wide for Juninho. The midfielder dribbled inside until he found some space and aimed for the far post. The shot was beyond the reach of the diving Weinstein, but skipped wide yet again.
Two minutes later, Tablante sent a long-distance attempt that was blocked out of play by Weinstein for a corner kick. The set piece ended with a chance for Lynn about three yards from goal. But the striker somehow managed to hit the post. OCB players wanted a handball, but the referee disagreed. Meanwhile, Perez got into the box and shot from close range, but it was saved by Weinstein.
In the 65th minute, Almaguer found Juninho in the box and the midfielder’s shot was blocked wide by Weinstein. The ensuing corner was played short to Juninho, who dribbled into the box and shot. Weinstein again blocked the attempt with his right hand, but put it right in front of goal. Lynn was in the right position to tap it in for his league-leading 18th goal of the season.
New England attempted to respond quickly when Olger Escobar received the ball from Adebayo-Smith. The halftime substitute took a shot from well outside of the box, but it didn’t cause any trouble for Otero.
The hosts nearly got the lead back in the 82nd minute when Dias received the ball at the top corner of the box from Escobar. Just after entering the 18, the midfielder sent the shot towards the upper corner. Otero dove to his right, but it was too far from him. Fortunately, the ball went just wide of the far post.
In the 85th minute, Escobar took a long shot of his own, but this one went well over the target. Perelman took the opportunity to make two changes for the final minutes. Cristofer Acuna and Zakaria Taifi came into the game for Lynn and Freeman.
Four minutes into second-half stoppage time, New England had a chance for a winner when substitute Patrick Leal was played behind the OCB defense. The midfielder entered the six-yard box from the left, but Otero came out to make himself big. The goalkeeper got down with his legs spread and blocked it to keep the game at 1-1.
OCB quickly went the other way and won a corner kick. It was taken quickly to Juninho, who sent a curling ball towards the back post. The ball ended up at the feet of Kibunguchy with enough space for a shot, but it bounced off of his leg and out for a goal kick. That was the last chance for either team and it ended 1-1.
OCB had less possession in the second half, ending with a slight advantage (51.5%-48.5%). However, the Young Lions were much better in the second 45 minutes. New England ended with more shots (17-16) and shots on target (7-5), but OCB outshot the hosts (11-6) and put more on target (5-1) in the second period of play. OCB also had more corner kicks (9-6) and crosses (11-6) and passed more accurately (89%-86.6%) during the game.
Per MLS NEXT Pro rules, each team took a point from regulation and went to penalties to decide who got the extra point. It didn’t start off well for OCB as Juninho sent Weinstein the wrong way, but fired his shot wide. After Leal and Medina converted, Jacob Akanyirige had a similar situation as Juninho, sending Otero the wrong way but missing wide.
OCB took the advantage after three rounds when Moises Tablante scored and Otero saved Souza’s penalty. But Weinstein stopped Kibunguchy on the next attempt, enabling Escobar to even the shootout at 2-2 after four rounds.
Despite having Acuna and Mohammed available, OCB continued to go with defensive players, sending Taifi to the spot. Weinstein guessed correctly on the first-year professional, making a comfortable save. Otero got his hand to Dias’ subsequent attempt, but didn’t get enough of it, and New England took the extra point.
The point gets OCB closer to claiming a playoff spot for the first time in MLS NEXT Pro and the second time in team history. But it also means the Young Lions can no longer catch Columbus Crew 2 for the top spot in the Central Division and the fourth seed in the playoffs.
OCB could still claim a playoff spot this weekend if NYCFC II and Philadelphia Union II lose in regulation or a shootout tomorrow night. If either gets at least two points, OCB will need to wait until next weekend for another chance to secure a playoff spot.
The Young Lions will take the field again next Friday night when they face Chicago Fire FC II at SeatGeek Stadium in Illinois.
Orlando City B vs. Crown Legacy FC: Final Score 6-3 as OCB Drops Chance To Clinch Playoff Spot
OCB could have clinched a playoff spot with a win tonight, but fell at home to Crown Legacy FC.
Orlando City B (12-10-3, 40 points) fell 6-3 to Crown Legacy FC (17-4-4, 58 points) in another wild game at Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee. The visitors took a 4-0 halftime lead with goals by Iuri Tavares, Nick Scardina, Joao Guilherme, and Patrick Agyemang. OCB responded in the second half, led by a Jack Lynn brace and Moises Tablante scoring possibly the goal of the game. But a Nikola Petkovic strike kept the game out of reach.
OCB Head Coach Martin Perelman made only one change to the team that beat Columbus Crew 2 at home last weekend with Abdi Salim replacing Thomas Williams. 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 behind Wilfredo Rivera and Shak Mohammed.
Crown Legacy didn’t dominate this game at any point, but was more efficient in front of goal. The visitors scored on nearly every first-half chance, taking a 4-0 lead into the break. The second half was bound to be wild with this OCB team and it didn’t disappoint. Perelman brought Lynn into the game at halftime and the team’s leading scorer brought the Young Lions back with a pair of goals. Unfortunately, they couldn’t do enough to erase the deficit and lost for the third time at home this season.
The Young Lions had the first chances of the game in the seventh minute. Freeman dribbled down the right and played a low ball for Rivera in the box. The forward attempted to turn, but was well defended and Crown Legacy was able to clear.
OCB recycled and went to the left this time. Perez carried the ball to the end line, where it appeared as though he’d cross, but he shot from a tight angle instead. Crown Legacy goalkeeper Isaac Walker was glued to his near post, enabling him to make the easy stop.
The visitors took the lead in the 13th minute from a great individual play by Tavares. It started when Scardina sent a long cross to the top of the box that was headed to Tavares by Agyemang. Tavares flicked the ball up to himself and headed it on to beat Kibunguchy. His first touch after getting past the center back was a hard strike that beat Otero to give the visitors an early 1-0 lead.
Crown Legacy doubled its advantage in the 28th minute when Kibunguchy fouled Agyemang away from goal. Petkovic played the set piece short for Joao Pedro, who immediately sent it forward for Thiago on the left. Salim got his foot to the midfielder’s low cross, but only played it back to Scardina, who sent a thunderous strike to the far post, making it 2-0.
Tavares attempted to score another impressive goal from the top of the box in the 36th minute. He was patient in finding enough space to get a shot off, but Perez got in the way and OCB cleared.
The Young Lions had a decent chance in the 38th minute when Guilherme fouled Juninho from 25 yards out. Medina stepped up to take the free kick and went directly for goal, but his shot went just over the crossbar. It wasn’t far off target, but Walker appeared to have it the whole way.
In the 43rd minute, Philip Mayaka took a shot from distance that was blocked behind the goal for a corner kick. The ensuing set piece was beyond everyone in the box, but headed back in by Scardina. Juninho’s attempted clearance went backwards into a group of players. Guilherme came flying in and over Kibunguchy to meet the ball, heading it past Otero to make it 3-0 Crown Legacy.
It didn’t take long for the visitors to make it four, doing so in the first minute of first-half injury time. Marko Filipovic sent a long ball forward from his own box and Kibunguchy misjudged it, enabling Agyemang to get behind him near midfield. The attacker used his speed to lose Almaguer and a quick change of pace to beat Salim. He quickly shot to the far post, beating Otero and giving Crown Legacy a commanding 4-0 lead.
OCB had more first-half possession (54.7%-45.3%), but Crown Legacy had more shots (7-5) and shots on goal (4-1), taking advantage of set pieces and counterattacks. The Young Lions also had more corners (2-1) and passed more accurately (86.4%-84.1%). Both teams had three crosses in the first 45 minutes.
“I think that they (Crown Legacy) were effective and aggressive in the first half. We had control of the ball mostly. They were effective,” Perelman said about the first period of play. “They scored twice on set pieces, they find goals in another two sequences, and that’s it.”
Perelman made one change at halftime. Lynn didn’t start the game after being with the first team in Cincinnati Saturday night. He came on for Rivera with OCB desperately needing goals.
Despite the attacking change, it was Crown Legacy that had the good early look. Less than a minute into the half, Agyemang was sent towards the OCB end line and reached the ball just before it crossed. He played it back for Tavares, who lost Perez for space to shoot. Fortunately, his shot was over the crossbar.
OCB nearly had its first chance of the second half in the 52nd minute, when Almaguer sent a curling ball around the defense for Freeman down the right. However, Freeman was unable to hold his run and the flag went up for offside. That was the last action for Perez, who was replaced by Tablante immediately after the whistle.
The Young Lions got a goal back in the 58th minute when a cross by Tablante into the box was cleared away by Tavares. The ensuing corner kick by Tablante went all the way to the back post, where Lynn beat Scardina to the ball and tapped it in to cut the deficit to three.
OCB had another chance off a corner kick in the 60th minute when Tate Johnson headed a cross out of play. Almaguer found the head of Solis in the box with the set piece. The midfielder sent the ball towards the far post, but wide.
Crown Legacy increased its lead in the 60th minute when Johnson sent Agyemang down the left. The attacker played the ball back for David Poreba, who continued it to Tavares behind the penalty spot. With Otero left flat-footed, the striker calmly played the ball into the bottom corner to make it 5-1.
The visitors scored their sixth goal in the 67th minute from an impressive run by Tavares. A Solis turnover near midfield enabled Crown Legacy to go the other way. Tavares dribbled by Juninho and played Petkovic through. Otero came out to cut down the angle, but the midfielder placed it into the corner to make it 6-1.
Despite being down five goals, OCB didn’t give up and got one back in the 70th minute. Solis’ shot was blocked out of play, giving the Young Lions another corner kick. Almaguer’s free kick found the head of Solis near the top of the box. The header was towards the far post and it initially looked like he’d scored, but Lynn got the last touch, cutting the deficit to 6-2.
“I noticed that we were winning a lot of the first balls, but maybe not putting it on target. So I just wanted to go in the six and try and clean up anything that was coming my way,” Lynn said about his two goals on set pieces. “And two balls came my way and I was quick to react and just lucky to find the net on them.”
The goal was Lynn’s 17th of the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro season, topping his OCB record 15 goals last year. It also tied NYCFC II’s Matt Myers for the lead in the race for the league’s top goal scorer.
“I have to first and foremost give credit to my teammates and the coaching staff for putting me in good positions to score,” Lynn said about his league-leading goal tally. “Without them, nothing’s possible. Besides that, always staying patient and trying to put away my chances when they come towards me.”
Perelman made his final two changes of the game right after the goal. Zakaria Taifi and Thomas Williams entered the game for Juninho and Medina.
Crown Legacy responded quickly to OCB’s first goal and they did again after the second. Two minutes after Lynn’s conversion, substitute Marko Filipovic received the ball in the box and was taken down by Solis from behind. Referee J.J. Bilinski didn’t hesitate pointing to the spot and awarding the visitors a penalty.
Poreba stepped to the spot, sending the shot low and to his left. But Otero guessed correctly and blocked the attempt. The OCB goalkeeper jumped on the loose ball near the center of the six-yard box before any Crown Legacy players could reach it. It was Otero’s fourth penalty save in 10 attempts this season.
Continuing the wild sequence of events, OCB got another goal back in the 74th minute. Taifi sent the ball to Solis, who split two defenders and found Tablante on the left. The substitute used a stepover to beat Scardina and dribbled past Filipovic before taking a shot from outside of the box. He couldn’t have placed it any better, skimming the bottom of the crossbar and into the corner to make it a 6-3 game.
In the 82nd minute, Crown Legacy had a chance when Poreba received the ball from Filipovic. The midfielder had space for a shot, but took a little too long and Williams came sliding in to block it wide. The ensuing corner kick by Pedro was into the hands of Otero, keeping the deficit at three.
The final chance of the game came a minute into second-half stoppage time. Guilherme cleared the ball out of play and Almaguer sent a corner kick into the box. Salim headed the ball down softly and towards goal. Lynn was in the perfect position to turn and redirect it on frame, but his attempt was over the crossbar and Crown Legacy came away with the win.
OCB ended the game with more possession (53.6%-46.4%), corners (7-3), and crosses (11-5), and passed more accurately (87%-85.5%). However, Crown Legacy created more shots (16-13) and put more shots on target (9-5).
“In the second half we had a great effort,” Perelman said of the performance. “Of course, we concede spaces to them. We find the goals, but they found another too and won. The game is finished. We faced a good team, we know that. We couldn’t do it. We didn’t have our best night.”
Despite the loss, Perelman insists he’s extremely proud of his team and the fight they showed in the second half.
“We made a lot of mistakes, but I’m proud of my team,” he said after the game. “I’m proud of my team because this is a really difficult season. It’s really difficult in second teams to prepare for a game, to make training sessions, to make a lot of things that the people don’t see. But we know. And in that context, the guys are doing a big effort, are competing, and I’m proud of my boys even more than ever today.”
Results around the league this weekend meant that OCB could’ve clinched a playoff spot tonight by taking all three points. Despite not being able to take advantage of the opportunity, the Young Lions remain in fifth in the Eastern Conference, six points above the playoff line. Since there are only three games remaining in the season, the Young Lions could officially qualify for the playoffs for the second time in team history later this week.
It will be a short turnaround for OCB as the Young Lions travel to take on New England Revolution II in a rare Thursday night contest.
Orlando City vs. Inter Miami: Three Keys to Victory
PawedCast Episode 377: NYCFC Rewind, Inter Miami Preview, and More
Lion Links: 9/22/23
Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew: Player Grades and Man of the Match
Orlando City vs. New York City FC: Intelligence Report
Orlando City vs. New York City FC: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, and More
Orlando City5 days ago
Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew: Five Takeaways
Orlando City6 days ago
Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew: Final Score 4-3 as Lions’ Comeback Extends Unbeaten Run to Six
Orlando City4 days ago
Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew: Player Grades and Man of the Match
Orlando City1 week ago
Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew: Three Keys to Victory
Orlando City6 days ago
Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew SC: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, and More
Orlando City3 days ago
Orlando City vs. New York City FC: Intelligence Report
Orlando City B2 weeks ago
Orlando City B vs. New England Revolution II: Final Score 1-1 as OCB Draws and Falls in Penalties
Opinion2 weeks ago
Predicting Orlando City’s September Matches