Orlando City B

Orlando City B vs. Philadelphia Union II: Final Score 3-1 as Young Lions Open Season with Road Win



Image Courtesy of Orlando City B

If the home team falls at Subaru Park in Chester, PA, and no one is able to see the stream of it happening, does it make a sound? Orlando City B got two early goals and added a third in the second half to beat Philadelphia Union II by a 3-1 scoreline in the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro season opener for both teams.

However, very few outside the stadium saw much of the game as the Young Lions (1-0-0, 3 points) gave Orlando a weekend sweep of Philadelphia with their victory over Union II (0-1-0, 0 points) because of difficulties starting and maintaining the league’s stream of the match. Neither the opening goal by defender Abdi Salim or the final goal by either Moises Tablante or Jack Lynn — depending on whether you go by the play-by-play announcer, the club, or the league’s stat feed — were shown live on the broadcast.

At least fans watching the live stream got to see Cristofer Acuña score his first OCB goal and the lone goal by Union II, which was scored by CJ Olney, Jr. Acuña starred in the match with his goal and an assist on the third OCB goal.

Head Coach Martin Perelman’s first starting lineup of the season was a 4-4-2 that included Javier Otero in goal behind a back line of Franco Perez, Nabi Kibunguchy, Abdi Salim, and Zakaria Taifi. The midfield consisted of Jhon Solis, Juninho, Imanol Almaguer, and Alejandro Granados, with Tablante and Acuña up top. First-team players Lynn and Shak Mohammed were on the bench.

The early part of the game is a mystery to all who weren’t in the stadium. The MLS NEXT Pro stream did not start at 2:50 p.m. as advertised and in fact did not start at all until the 10th minute. That denied fans the opportunity to see Salim’s first professional goal, which came in the fifth minute on a header off a corner kick, putting the Young Lions ahead early. The young defender celebrated his first career professional goal with an acrobatic flip.

Acuña nearly doubled the lead in the 13th minute, getting into the box down the left side. Goalkeeper Andrew Rick came way off his line and made the stop and pounced on the rebound before an OCB player could get to it. Two minutes later, Solis had an opportunity near the top of the area and Rick made a spectacular save to keep it out of the top left corner.

But that OCB pressure paid off in the 16th minute. A run down the left channel by Perez drew everyone’s attention and when he slipped a centering pass to Acuña, there was no one to stop the easy goal. Acuña’s first goal with OCB double the lead at 2-0.

After going down two, Philadelphia started to play with desperation and applied much more pressure. The Young Lions started turning the ball over more often and it started with a quick transition that gave the Union a prolonged spell of pressure in the 19th minute but no one could get a shot off and eventually an offside allowed OCB players to catch their breath

Two minutes later, OCB did well to block a couple of Philly shots. The Young Lions then had to withstand a shorthanded situation after a player required more than 15 seconds to get up from an injury, per MLS NEXT Pro rules.

Otero came off his line with a strong punch to clear a cross in the 26th minute, and then did well to catch a ball into the area from Boubacar Diallo moments later, holding it through contact with his own defender, Kibunguchy.

The hosts finally pulled one back in the 29th minute and it came off a turnover from Union II’s sustained pressure. In what was a mirror image of OCB’s second goal, Union II broke into the attacking third in transition and CJ Olney Jr. slotted home from around the penalty spot after taking the centering pass from Nelson Pierre.

The game was a bit more even after the Union got on the board. A good OCB attack was thwarted when the ball in from the left flank was just beyond the reach of two Orlando attackers in the 32nd minute.

Pierre headed well off target in the 38th minute for Philadelphia. Then Tablante had two shots blocked in rapid succession at the top of the penalty area a minute later after the Young Lions did well to break the press.

The only eventful moment in the first half after that was a scuffle between the teams in the 42nd minute. Granados was knocked down from behind and landed on the ball. The referee called no foul and so a Union player tried to kick it out from under the Young Lion. OCB players took exception to that and some pushing and shoving ensued, resulting in yellow cards to OCB’s Almaguer and Francis Westfield of Philadelphia.

The halftime stats showed OCB with a slight advantage in possession (51.6%-48.4%), shots (7-6), and shots on target (4-2). Philadelphia passed slightly more accurately (81.5%-79.1%) and each team had one opportunity to take a corner kick.

Whatever the problem was with the first half stream, the league (or Philadelphia II) doubled down at halftime. The stream switched off and a second link was posted on YouTube. But it didn’t start streaming at all on some devices in the second half, despite a notice posted on the MLS NEXT Pro site that the stream was unavailable due to technical issues and the league was working to restore it as quickly as possible. It did come on for YouTube users — albeit not on the Firestick plugged into my television, just via browser — around the 67th minute.

OCB — apparently, to those who were actually at Subaru Park — struck again in the 61st minute. Tablante (or was it Lynn?) scored from near the top of the area with a header off an Acuña cross. The play came off another OCB corner kick and gave the Young Lions a 3-1 advantage.

Mohammed made his professional debut in the 67th minute, coming on for Acuña.

Otero made a big save deep in stoppage time on a header by Westfield off a corner kick cross. That’s really all I saw in real time. I caught the last few minutes of normal time and all seven minutes of stoppage, so it’s pointless to discuss much about the second half, aside from the goal scored by…well, somebody on OCB. If the club says it was Lynn, it probably was, so we’ll go with that.

Philadelphia, pressing to get back in the game in the second half, led in several statistical categories, including possession (53.4%-46.6%), shots (14-12), corners (9-4), and passing accuracy (79.7%-76%). The Young Lions got more shots on target (8-3) — a statistical category that plagued OCB at times last season.

The important thing is the outcome, even though the third goal is in question and the stream situation is an embarrassing one for a league that has already supposedly gone through such growing pains.

The Young Lions will open their home schedule on Friday when expansion Huntsville City visits Osceola County Stadium at 7 p.m.


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