Orlando City B (4-3-2, 15 points) came back from a two-goal deficit in the second half to draw Atlanta United 2 (3-4-2, 12 points) at Osceola County Stadium, but couldn’t ride that momentum to an extra point in the postgame penalty shootout, which the visitors won. Karim Tmimi gave Atlanta the lead after just six minutes and a Luke Brennan penalty in the 51st minute made it 2-0. But Jack Lynn came on just after the second goal and netted a brace to even the game at 2-2. Per MLS NEXT Pro rules, the draw went to penalties and Atlanta won 5-4 to take the extra point.
OCB Head Coach Martin Perelman made only one change from the team that lost 4-0 to Columbus Crew 2 Sunday afternoon with Zakaria Taifi being replaced by Favian Loyola. Javier Otero was back in goal behind a back line of Moises Tablante, Nabi Kibunguchy, Abdi Salim, and Alex Freeman. Cristian Medina, Imanol Almaguer, Juninho, and Jhon Solis were in the midfield, with Loyola and Cristofer Acuna up top.
OCB dominated the possession and chances for most of the game, but was unable to put enough shots on target. A poor start to each half was the team’s undoing as the Young Lions conceded early in both periods of play. However, an inspired substitution in the second half by Perelman saw the Young Lions erase a two-goal deficit and gain a point.
The Young Lions had the first chance of the game in the third minute when Freeman made a good run down the right and sent a dangerous ball into the box. But it was too far in front of everyone in purple, going harmlessly out of play for a goal kick.
Atlanta took the lead three minutes later when Nick Firmino blocked Salim’s clearance attempt near midfield and sprinted the other way into the OCB box. After failing to create enough space for a shot, he found Tmimi at the top of the 18. The striker found space and placed his shot past Otero and into the corner to give the visitors an early 1-0 lead.
The Young Lions got off to strong starts in their first three games, scoring inside five minutes. It’s something that Perelman has spoken about pushing his team to do. However, they’ve now conceded inside the first six minutes three times in their last four games.
“It’s the same thing as last time. It’s not the first time it happened to us,” Perelman said after the game. “We need to correct this. We cannot concede goals like this, because the opponents are not making nothing to score on us. We just give it to them. We just make mistakes and then we suffer.”
OCB responded well after conceding and nearly equalized on multiple occasions. In the eighth minute, Tablante sent a dangerous ball into the Atlanta box that nearly found Loyola at the back post, but the first-team forward just missed connecting with the pass.
A minute later, Perelman was forced to make his first substitution when Salim went down with an injury. The OCB training staff attended to the center back for a few minutes before he left under his own power. However, he was replaced by Taifi.
The Young Lions had another good chance in the 12th minute when a free kick resulted in a dangerous ball into the box by Almaguer. Sent into a group of players, it was headed down for Loyola in front of goal. The forward got his foot on the ball, but sent it just wide of the near post.
Atlanta had a decent chance in the 21st minute when a nice one-two between Brennan and Kofi Twumasi resulted in Brennan with the ball inside the OCB box. The midfielder’s first touch after receiving the pass was towards goal, but it sailed well over the target.
The visitors almost doubled their lead again in the 26th minute when Kibunguchy fouled Brennan to the right of goal. Aiden McFadden stepped up to take the set piece and sent it towards the back post where Fuad Adeniyi was waiting. The center back got his head on the ball, but couldn’t get over it and it went just over the crossbar.
The Young Lions created a chance in the 29th minute when Juninho played the ball forward for Solis. It looked like the midfielder would run into traffic, but nobody stepped up, creating a hole for Solis to run through. The 24-year-old took a shot, but sent it well over the crossbar.
In the 34th minute, Tablante carried the ball down the left with Acuna running to the near post and Loyola towards the far post. A good ball likely would’ve found one of them, but Tablante’s low cross was too close to Atlanta goalkeeper Sebastian Guerra, who knocked it out for a corner kick. The ensuing short corner ended up at the feet of Juninho, but his shot was right at Guerra.
In the 42nd minute, Erik Centeno used a nice touch to beat Freeman. As he neared the OCB box, Freeman caught back up, sliding in and fouling the attacker. Referee Elvis Osmanovic felt the tackle was from behind and issued Freeman a yellow card. Aiden McFadden took the free kick and went for goal, sending the shot just over the target.
OCB forced Guerra into his first big save in the 45th minute when Loyola played a nice ball into the box for Acuna, splitting two defenders. Despite having his back to goal, Acuna did well to turn and shoot with his right foot on his first touch. But Guerra was up to the task, getting down and blocking the ball with his right foot. That was the last chance of the first half for either team as OCB trailed 1-0 at the break.
Despite trailing, OCB led in most first-half statistics. The Young Lions had more possession (58.4%-41.6%), shots (6-5), corners (3-0), crosses (13-4), and passing accuracy (90%-80.5%). Atlanta won more tackles (7-2) and duels (27-20), with both teams putting two shots on target.
Similar to the first half, it didn’t take long for OCB to concede in the second 45 minutes. In the 50th minute, Brennan used a nice move to get behind Tablante. As the attacker entered the OCB box, Tablante tugged on Brennan’s shirt and the Atlanta United academy product went down. Osmanovic immediately pointed to the spot, awarding the visitors a penalty.
After drawing the penalty, Brennan stepped up to take the kick. Otero has been terrific in these situations, but couldn’t get to this one. As he dove to his left, Brennan sent his soft shot the opposite direction, giving Atlanta a commanding 2-0 lead.
Right after the goal, Perelman made his second change of the game, replacing Loyola with Lynn. It didn’t take long for the substitute to make an impact, as quick passing by Juninho and Solis sent Tablante into the Atlanta box. The left back sent a low cross to the top of the six, where Lynn was charging in and redirected the ball past Guerra seconds after entering the game, cutting the deficit in half.
“Jack is doing a good job,” Perelman said about Lynn coming on and immediately scoring. “We are so happy with him and happy he scored again.”
OCB had a good chance to equalize in the 62nd minute when Juninho beat Tmimi to the end line and sent a low cross through the box. It found the left foot of Freeman, who was coming in from the opposite side. The right back’s first touch was a shot, but Nelson Orji was able to get in front and block it away.
It looked like the Young Lions had a breakaway in the 65th minute when Acuna was sent through. But Adeniyi did well to regain his position goalside and won the ball back from the forward.
In the 67th minute, Centeno beat Freeman to get into the OCB box. As Centeno reached the end line, Freeman slid in, taking the attacker down from behind. Osmanovic pointed to the spot for the second time, giving Atlanta a golden opportunity to retake their two-goal lead.
Freeman had already been booked in the first half and Osmanovic likely took that into account when not issuing a card. That didn’t sit well with Atlanta United 2 Head Coach Steve Cooke, who was booked for arguing that Freeman should’ve been sent off.
After Brennan did well to convert on the first penalty, Firmino stepped up to take the second spot kick. Otero guessed correctly, diving to his left, but Firmino’s penalty was wide of the post anyway, keeping the game at 2-1.
The Young Lions quickly went the other way looking for an equalizer. After Lynn played the ball out wide for Juninho, he continued his run into the Atlanta box. Juninho’s first touch was to the top of the box for Medina, but the forward couldn’t handle it and the ball bounced right off of him. Fortunately, it went right to Lynn, who was in the right place at the right time. He calmly put it into the far corner for the equalizer and his second goal of the game.
In the 76th minute, Efrain Morales fouled Acuna about 25 yards from goal. Perelman took the opportunity to make his third change of the game, bringing on Wilfredo Rivera for Freeman. It wasn’t a surprising change as Freeman was on a yellow card and could be considered fortunate to still be on the field after conceding the second penalty.
Acuna’s free kick was blocked out for a corner, which OCB took short. Rivera received the ball and sent a cross into the box. It found the foot of Acuna, but his shot was just wide. It didn’t matter anyway, because Osmanovic deemed that Acuna had fouled Toni Tiente in the process.
Two minutes later, Brennan had a chance for his second goal of the game. The forward was sent into the OCB box uncovered. He quickly shot towards the far post, but it skipped just wide.
The Young Lions nearly took the lead in the 84th minute when the Atlanta defense left Solis open outside of the box. The midfielder decided to go for goal, lifting his shot over the outstretched arm of Guerra. But the ball was inches too high, bouncing off the crossbar.
In the 87th minute, Raimar sent a dangerous cross into the box that found the head of Brennan. The forward sent his header towards the post, but he didn’t get enough on it and Otero was able to collect.
OCB almost won it in the 88th minute when Tablante sent a low cross into the box for Rivera. Alan Carleton, who came on as a second-half substitute, took Rivera down from behind, but Osmanovic decided it wasn’t a foul. The ball went right to Lynn, who shot towards goal, but sent it wide.
The fourth official signaled two minutes of injury time and it gave each team enough time for one last chance. The first chance was for Atlanta when Firmino was sent towards the end line, He found an oncoming Twumasi near the penalty spot, but the defender slipped as he reached the ball and it sailed over the crossbar.
OCB got its last chance on the other end when Tablante found Rivera in the Atlanta box. Rivera stayed on his feet and put his shot on target, but Guerra was able to block it. The final whistle blew immediately after the chance, ending the game in a 2-2 draw.
After 90 minutes, OCB had more possession (53.9%-46.1%), shots (19-11), shots on target (6-4), corners (6-2), crosses (19-8), and passing accuracy (90.2%-84.6%). But the Young Lions weren’t able to find a late winner and it finished 2-2.
Draws in MLS NEXT Pro games go to a shootout to decide who gets a second point, so this game went to spot kicks.
After Raimar and Lynn converted on the first two attempts, Otero saved Brennan’s shot to give OCB the advantage. But Guerra dove to his right to block Medina’s subsequent attempt, keeping it tied at 1-1.
It got a little feisty after Tiente beat Otero to make it 4-3 Atlanta. Tiente went to grab the ball, but Otero grabbed it first. After a brief tussle, Osmanovic had to calm both teams down. He booked both Otero and Tiente for the scuffle while Taifi waited to take his penalty. The teenager handled the delay well and beat Guerra with the next kick to keep it tied.
Carleton stepped up to start the sixth round and Otero got his hands on the ball. But it bounced off the post and in to give Atlanta a 5-4 lead. Almaguer took the sixth kick for the Young Lions, but got under it and sent his attempt well over the crossbar, giving the visitors the extra point.
“It’s so frustrating doing the game we did,” Perelman said about the performance. “We played amazing, controlled the complete game. But then we made unforced mistakes and we conceded the goals. It’s difficult winning doing that kind of mistakes.”
“It’s one of the most important things is you want to make the home a fortress,” Lynn said about getting a point at home. “You want people to hate to come here. So the fact that we can continue to keep putting points up when we’re here is a good thing.”
After one game at home, OCB will head back out on the road. It will be another rivalry game when the Young Lions face Inter Miami II Thursday night in Fort Lauderdale.