Orlando City B
Orlando City B vs. NYCFC II: Final Score 2-2 as OCB Takes Two Points at Home
OCB squandered a 2-0 first-half lead to draw NYCFC II 2-2, but took away two points by winning the penalty shootout.
KISSIMMEE — Orlando City B (3-1-1, 11 points) remains unbeaten at home in 2023 after drawing 2-2 with NYCFC II (2-1-1, 7 points) tonight at Osceola County Stadium. Defender Nabi Kibunguchy scored a first-half brace, but NYCFC II responded with goals by Samuel Owusu late in the first half and Nicholas Benalcazar in the closing minutes. Penalties decided who would get the extra point, and the Young Lions took the shootout, 8-7.
OCB Head Coach Martin Perelman made three changes to the team that lost 3-1 to Atlanta United 2 last weekend. Thomas Williams, Tahir Reid-Brown, and Jack Lynn weren’t in the starting lineup, replaced by Abdi Salim, Moises Tablante, and Cristofer Acuna. Salim rejoined the lineup after missing last weekend’s game while being examined for an injury during training.
The back four in front of Javier Otero was Alex Freeman, Salim, Kibunguchy, and Tablante. Imanol Almaguer, Cristian Medina, Jhon Solis, and Juninho were in the midfield, with Favian Loyola and Acuna up top.
Perelman has put an emphasis on his team starting games quickly and the Young Lions did it again in this one, putting NYCFC II on the back foot early. The first chance came in the seventh minute, when Tablante took a shot from outside of the box, but it was over the target.
They almost had a second chance in the ninth minute when Tablante sent a low cross into the six after a good run into the box from the left. But nobody in purple was closing in and the visitors were able to clear.
In the 10th minute, Stephen Turnbull fouled Tablante just outside of the NYCFC II box. Medina stepped up to take the kick and went directly for goal, but his shot was just over the crossbar.
Receiving the ball near his own box in the 16th minute, Medina sent a great long ball at shin level that sent Tablante behind the NYCFC II defense. It looked like the attacker would have a breakaway on goal, but the assistant’s flag was up for offside.
The first decent chance for NYCFC II came in the 19th minute, when Turnbull received the ball on the right from Benalcazar. He sent a curling cross into the OCB box, but it was too close to Otero, allowing him to catch it.
The Young Lions finally broke through in the 21st minute. A short free kick allowed Almaguer to send the ball into the box. Freeman and Alex Rando challenged for the 50-50 ball with Freeman getting his head to it first. The right back was able to flick the ball behind the goalkeeper where Kibunguchy was running on and headed it in to give the Young Lions a 1-0 lead.
NYCFC II tried to pull one back two minutes later when Turnbull made a good run into the OCB box. He avoided a stray leg, staying on his feet, and played it across for John Denis, who shot. But it was blocked and OCB cleared.
In the 26th minute, Juninho tried to double the OCB lead, dribbling into the NYCFC II box. He got a shot off, but Rando was able to block it out of play.
The ensuing corner by Medina was to the top of the box where Kibunguchy was waiting. The center back got off a surprisingly strong header, sending it past Rando for his second goal of the game and giving the Young Lions a 2-0 lead.
Three minutes after the goal, Medina found Loyola, who quickly played Acuna into the box. The forward shot on goal, but it was blocked out of play by Benalcazar for another OCB corner. Again, Medina’s corner found the head of Kibunguchy, but this time he had a defender on him and the header was over the crossbar.
NYCFC II finally got another shot off in the 35th minute, when a give-and-go between Piero Elias and Denis provided enough space for Elias to shoot. Fortunately, it was right at Otero, enabling him to make an easy save.
OCB nearly had a chance in the 37th minute when Tablante played a low cross for Acuna, who was charging into the NYCFC II box. But it was a little too far for the forward and Rando was able to collect it.
In the 41st minute, Tablante took a shot from the left of goal that was blocked. NYCFC II was unable to clear, and Tablante beat the defenders to the free ball just outside of the box. He took a sliding shot as he attempted to get to the ball first, but sent it off target.
A minute later, Denis almost got one back for the visitors when he dribbled into the OCB box from the left. Otero was defending his near post, so Denis attempted to curl the ball inside the far side. It was a good attempt and he didn’t miss by much, hitting it just wide.
The fourth official showed one minute of first-half injury time and that was enough for NYCFC II to get a goal back. It started with a strong run by Turnbull, who split two OCB defenders to get into the box. Despite the OCB players disagreeing, the referee said the ball went out off of Tablante, giving NYCFC II a last-second corner kick.
The corner by Denis was to the top of the box where Owusu was waiting. It was a great scissor kick by the center back, who volleyed the ball past Otero to cut the OCB lead in half.
That was the last play of the first period, as OCB didn’t even have time to kick off and took a 2-1 lead into the break.
The late-half surge by the visitors resulted in NYCFC II having more first-half possession (55.6%-44.4%). However, OCB had more shots (9-8), shots on target (4-2), and corners (2-1), one of which resulted in a goal. Additionally, NYCFC II had more crosses (5-2) and passing accuracy (80.2%-74.4%).
OCB made two changes to start the second half, bringing on a pair of first-team players, as Almaguer and Acuna made way for Shak Mohammed and Jack Lynn.
While OCB was the more aggressive team to start the first half, NYCFC II got off to the better second-half start. In the 48th minute, Benalcazar found Elias just outside of the OCB box. The midfielder dribbled inside the 18 and took a low, strong shot on goal. But Otero was up to the challenge, getting down to block the attempt away for a corner kick.
They had another chance in the 58th minute, when Turnbull dribbled into the OCB box and played Maximo Carrizo behind the defense. The midfielder opened his hips and aimed for the back post, where Otero couldn’t cover. The shot wasn’t far off, skipping just past the far post.
Perelman made his third and fourth substitutions at the hour mark and it was another pair of first-team players. This time, Medina and Loyola were replaced by Thomas Williams and Wilfredo Rivera. It was a defensive change as the Young Lions went to five defenders, with three center backs, trying to maintain their one-goal lead.
Already chasing an equalizer, the situation got worse for NYCFC II in the 74th minute when Owusu, who had been booked in the 28th minute, took down Juninho from behind. The referee didn’t hesitate to bring out a second yellow, sending off NYCFC II’s first-half goalscorer.
Freeman’s ensuing free kick was blocked by Jonathan Jimenez. The OCB players wanted a handball in the box, but the referee disagreed.
With a man advantage, OCB put some attacking pressure on the NYCFC II defense and created a good chance in the 77th minute when Tablante laid the ball off for Lynn. The striker’s shot was from just outside of the box and appeared to be headed toward the bottom right corner of the goal. But Rando got down and made the stop.
Despite being down a man, NYCFC II found their equalizer in the 81st minute. Juninho fouled Denis outside of the OCB box, providing a set piece for the visitors. Denis’ free kick was a hard strike over the hands of Otero and slammed off the crossbar. Unfortunately, it went right to Benalcazar, and the NYCFC II captain headed it to the far post for the equalizing goal.
NYCFC II had more possession and was creating more chances despite being a man down and it got better for the visitors when Mohammed fouled Christian McFarlane near midfield. The challenge resulted in Mohammed’s second yellow card of the night and both teams were down to 10 men.
It looked like NYCFC II would claim all three points when a poor challenge by Williams resulted in Jack Beer going to the ground. The referee immediately pointed to the spot, awarding NYCFC II a penalty.
Denis stepped up and sent the ball towards the bottom left corner. Otero guessed correctly, but it didn’t appear as though he was quick enough to get to it. Fortunately, the penalty was wide of the goal, keeping the score at 2-2.
In the fourth and final minute of injury time, there was a scramble in the OCB box as NYCFC II searched for a winner. Denis was able to get an off-balance shot off, but it was blocked by a group of defenders.
That was the last chance of the game as the teams drew 2-2. After 90 minutes, NYCFC II had more possession (56.8%-43.2%), shots (14-11), crosses (7-4), and accurate passes (82.7%-76.5%). Meanwhile, OCB had more shots on target (5-4).
However, MLS NEXT Pro rules state that draws go to penalties to decide which team gets an extra point in the standings. It was OCB’s first draw and penalty shootout of the 2023 season.
The shootout started out with some excellent conversions by both teams. The first six shooters scored before Tablante stepped up to start the fourth round. Rando guessed correctly, diving to his right to make the stop.
The next shooter was Matthew Myers. OCB has depended on Otero to make big saves from the spot on several occasions over the last few years, and he came up big again, knocking Myers’ attempt away to keep the shootout at 3-3.
After Zakaria Taifi converted, Ronald Arevalo was up. The penalty hit the crossbar and the OCB players sprinted towards the hero goalkeeper. However, the assistant referee determined that the ball crossed the line, allowing the NYCFC II players to celebrate instead.
Freeman was the next to shoot and it looked like Rando might’ve won it for the visitors when he got his hand to it. But it was a strong strike by the Homegrown Player, so Rando’s one hand couldn’t keep it out.
After former Lion Rio Hope-Gund converted to tie it back up, the next five players were successful. It was 8-7 when McFarlane stepped up to take his attempt. Otero dove to his left and got both hands behind the ball to keep it out of the net. As a result, OCB took two points from the game.
“It was a tough match as we imagined. They are a good team.,” Perelman said after the game. They have too much time playing together. They had a good, organized gameplay. There were moments in the first half where I really liked the team, the way we played. We have to control the game, especially when we’re winning.”
While the Young Lions will celebrate winning the shootout, they’ll be disappointed to not claim all three points. They were the better team during the first half and held a lead and had a man advantage late in the second half. But the visitors controlled the second 45 minutes, keeping OCB under constant pressure.
The Young Lions will look to keep their strong form going next Sunday when they welcome Toronto FC II to Osceola County Stadium.