Orlando City B (4-2-1, 14 points) fell for the second time this season, losing 3-2 to Crown Legacy FC (6-0-1, 19 points) in a battle for first place at the Mecklenburg County Sportsplex at Matthews in Matthews, NC. Iuri Tavares gave the hosts the lead inside two minutes, but OCB responded with a great goal by Moises Tablante and a Jack Neeley own goal late in the first half. The hosts took control of the second half, scoring two goals in two minutes through Thiago and Tavares’ second of the night, handing the Young Lions a difficult loss.
OCB Head Coach Martin Perelman made two changes to the team that came back from two deficits to beat Toronto FC II 3-2 last weekend in Kissimmee. Zakaria Taifi entered the lineup for Abdi Salim, and Imanol Almaguer replaced team captain Juninho. The back four in front of Javier Otero was Tablante, Nabi Kibunguchy, Taifi, and Alex Freeman. Alejandro Granados, Cristian Medina, and Almaguer were in the midfield, with Cristofer Acuna, Jhon Solis, and Favian Loyola up top.
Similar to last week, it was the opposition that got off to the better start. The first chance came just 45 seconds into the game when Vinicius Mello found space between the center backs at the top of the box for a shot. But his attempt was well high of the target.
A minute later, Crown Legacy opened the scoring. Mello played the ball wide for Nikola Petkovic and continued his run towards the end line. Instead of giving it back to him, Petkovic sent the ball into the box for the oncoming Tavares, who headed it past Otero to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.
It’s the second consecutive game that OCB has conceded early after Toronto FC II scored in the third minute Sunday evening.
The goal seemed to spark some life into the Young Lions, who created chances of their own shortly after. In the seventh minute, Acuna made a good run towards the Crown Legacy end line, shielding off his defender to send the ball to the front of goal. Loyola was at the top of the six-yard box to redirect the ball on target, but Joao Pedro got in front of the shot, blocking it away.
A free kick just outside of the Crown Legacy box gave OCB another opportunity in the 10th minute. Rather than sending the ball into the box, it was played across for Almaguer. The midfielder sent the ball in from the opposite side and it landed at the feet of Kibunguchy. Unfortunately, the center back couldn’t get much on the first-touch attempt, allowing Isaac Walker to make the easy stop.
A minute later, the hosts nearly had a second goal when Nick Scardina played a very dangerous ball across OCB’s six-yard box. Mello was left open in front of goal and the ball appeared to be headed right to him, but he couldn’t get on the end of it. Crown Legacy sent the ball back in, reaching the head of Brian Romero, but it was right to Otero.
After assisting the early goal, Petkovic attempted to get one of his own in the 13th minute. His shot from distance didn’t seem too dangerous, but it had pace on it, forcing Otero to block it away.
Tavares had a chance for a second goal in the 26th minute when Loyola fouled Pedro near the OCB box. The free kick by Pedro was sent towards the back post and found the head of the forward. He redirected the set piece towards goal, but sent it wide.
The two early missed chances by the Young Lions seemed to deflate the team. They were creating opportunities but got frustrated with the lack of production in the final third and started missing easy passes in their own end.
The next chance for OCB was in the 32nd minute when Freeman made a good run down the right side and sent a dangerous ball into the box. It was headed just in front of Acuna, who made a run into the Crown Legacy end, but was a bit too far in front and skipped out of play.
Despite being dominated for much of the first 45 minutes, OCB found an unlikely equalizer in the 39th minute. A poor touch and good pressure by Solis won the ball for the Young Lions and they went the other way on the counterattack. Solis immediately sent the ball wide for Tablante on the left and the left back sprinted into the Crown Legacy box. He had Medina in the middle, but used a step over to beat Neeley and sent his shot into the roof of the net from a tight angle.
It was Tablante’s second goal in as many games after he scored the game-winner last weekend against Toronto.
It looked like the game would go into the break even at 1-1, but David Poreba fouled Solis near the top of the Crown Legacy box for one last attempt. Granados and Medina stood over the ball and Medina took the free kick after Granados faked a run up. The ball was too close to Walker, who punched it away. However, it hit it right off Neeley and the ball went past him to send OCB into halftime with a surprising 2-1 lead.
The late surge made the game a lot more even than it had been for nearly 40 minutes. At halftime, OCB had more possession (50.9-49.1%) and passing accuracy (83.7%-81.5%). Crown Legacy had more shots (7-4), shots on target (3-2), and crosses (11-5).
Similar to the first half, it was the hosts that got off to the better second-half start. A foul by Granados on Mello gave Crown Legacy a free kick near the top corner of the box and they almost took advantage. Pedro went directly for goal on the set piece, missing just wide of the near post.
Two minutes later, OCB almost gave up an embarrassing goal when the Young Lions were a little too nonchalant playing the ball out of the back. The free kick ended up with Taifi in the box and Tavares didn’t give up on the play. He blocked Taifi’s pass and the ball went just wide of Otero’s post.
In the 63rd minute, a handball on Crown Legacy gave OCB a free kick. Medina and Wilfredo Rivera, who came on for Loyola in the 58th minute, stood over the ball. Rivera stepped over the ball, allowing Medina to take the kick. But it was off a head in the wall, allowing Walker to catch it.
A minute later, Almaguer made a good, long run and was taken down by Pedro just outside of the box. Again, Medina and Rivera were on the ball and Medina took the kick. This time it was on target, but Walker blocked it out for a corner kick. Unfortunately, Kibunguchy was called for a foul on the ensuing set piece and Crown Legacy was able to clear.
Crown Legacy found the equalizer in the 71st minute. Halftime substitute Thiago started the play by sending the ball out wide and received it back in the middle after a couple of passes. He tipped the ball to set up a shot with his left and fired from outside of the box. Almaguer slid in to block it, but deflected it instead. The deflection sent Otero the wrong way and the hosts found their second goal.
It only took two more minutes for Crown Legacy to take their second lead of the game. After the initial cross attempt was blocked, the ball went to Acuna. A poor first touch by the midfielder allowed Philip Mayaka to win it back and play it wide to Scardina. Left with too much room, Tavares did well to bring the ball down with his thigh, setting up a right-footed shot on goal. Otero was in a good position to stop it, but it was past him and the hosts took a late 3-2 lead.
Now down a goal, Perelman was forced to make attacking substitutions in an attempt to find an equalizer. In the 77th minute, forward Jack Lynn came on for Granados. Two minutes later, Shak Mohammed replaced right back Freeman.
The Young Lions nearly found a goal in the 78th minute when Jacob Williams knocked the ball out of play for an OCB corner kick. The set piece by Medina went to Kibunguchy near the top of the box. The center back has shown his heading ability in the past and sent a dart towards the far post, but it went just wide.
Crown Legacy had a chance to put the game away in the 86th minute when Marko Filipovic found Mello at the penalty spot. It looked like he had a free shot on goal, but Almaguer came flying in to block it, keeping the deficit at one goal.
OCB’s final chance came two minutes into second-half injury time when a Lynn cross attempt was blocked out of play by Pedro for a corner kick. Lynn volleyed the ensuing set piece by Medina with his right foot towards goal, but it went wide of the near post.
As Crown Legacy went the other way, a late foul by Taifi was enough for the hosts to seal the win and hand OCB its second loss of the season.
Crown Legacy ended the game with more possession (51.4%-48.6%), shots (14-10), shots on target (6-4), crosses (18-12), and passing accuracy (82.7%-82.2%). OCB only had more corners (4-3), but none of them ended in goals.
The loss keeps OCB in second place in MLS NEXT Pro’s Eastern Conference, but they fall further behind the conference leaders, Crown Legacy FC. While the Young Lions have been excellent at home, they’re now 1-2-0 away from Osceola County Stadium and have lost their last two away from Central Florida. That doesn’t bode well for their next game when they face Columbus Crew 2, which sits three points behind them in the standings, next weekend.
The Friday game means OCB will have some to recuperate and prepare for their battle with Crew 2 next Sunday afternoon at Historic Crew Stadium in Ohio.