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Orlando City B

Orlando City B vs. FC Cincinnati 2: Final Score 5-3 as OCB Dominates in Kentucky

OCB came back from a two-goal deficit in a wild game to beat FC Cincinnati 2.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B

Orlando City B (8-6-2, 27 points) came back from a two-goal, second-half deficit to beat FC Cincinnati 2 (4-8-3, 16 points) 5-3 at NKU Soccer Stadium in Highland Heights, KY. The Young Lions used braces by Juninho and Jack Lynn and an own goal by Matt Dreas to score their five goals. David Garcia gave the hosts the lead in the 30th minute and Ryder Mills scored two early second-half goals before OCB took over.

OCB made two changes to the lineup that lost 3-0 to Philadelphia Union II Wednesday night. Alejandro Granados came on at right back for Alex Freeman and Zakaria Taifi returned the starting lineup at center back, replacing Thomas Williams.

The Young Lions started with a 4-4-2 formation and a back line in front of Javier Otero of Granados, Nabi Kibunguchy, Taifi, and Franco Perez. The midfield four were the same as the midweek contest, consisting of Imanol Almaguer, Juninho, Cristian Medina, and Jhon Solis. First-team forwards Shak Mohammed and Lynn started up top.

The start of the game was delayed due to severe weather, pushing the scheduled 7 p.m. kickoff to 8:45. The Young Lions dominated the game once it kicked off, destroying FC Cincinnati 2 in every statistical category. The hosts scored three goals on just four shots, keeping them in the game, and some bad giveaways by OCB on its own side of the field is why the winning margin was only two.

Other than the long delay, there was nothing out of the ordinary in the first half. But the second half went off the rails with the teams combining for six goals, including two times where multiple goals were scored within two minutes of each other.

OCB kicked off and immediately went downfield looking for a quick start. Solis ended up with the ball outside of the box and took the game’s first shot, but it was blocked by Garcia. Following that initial chance, the game slowed down for a few minutes.

The Young Lions got their second chance in the eighth minute from a short corner. Solis received the ball and sent it back to Juninho well outside of the box. Despite the distance, the OCB captain attempted a curling shot that went just over the head of the Cincinnati defense, forcing Evan Louro to push it away.

FC Cincinnati 2 had its first chance in the 11th minute when Lynn received the ball on the opposition side of the field and immediately lost it. The hosts used some quick passing to head the other way in numbers. Otero came off his line to challenge the attacker and Granados was there to clear it away.

In the 13th minute, Juninho lost possession of the ball near his own end line and ended up knocking it out for a Cincinnati throw in. Bret Halsey found Mills in the box and the forward immediately laid it off for Dreas for a shot. The attempt skipped across the front of the goal, but was never on target and went out for a goal kick.

OCB hit the woodwork in the 20th minute when Lynn found Perez on the left. The left back sent a long ball towards the back post where Taifi was making a run into the box. The defender volleyed the ball towards goal and on target. Lynn was inside the six-yard box and beat Joey Akpunonu to send it on, but flicked it off the crossbar.

The hosts opened the scoring in the 30th minute after an OCB turnover in the defensive half, when Kibunguchy stepped up to challenge Quimi Ordonez, taking out the forward and receiving a yellow card. Halsey took the ensuing set piece, finding the head of Garcia between Kibunguchy and Mohammed. The defender’s header was beyond the reach of Otero and into the top corner of the goal to give Cincinnati a 1-0 lead.

In the 34th minute, Juninho drew two defenders as he approached the box and laid it off for Lynn. Rather than attempting to get a closer look, Lynn released a shot from distance. It was a strong attempt and on target, but Louro had a good view of it the whole way and blocked it.

Two minutes later, Mohammed sent a cross to the top of the six-yard box that found the head of Kibunguchy. Looking to make up for his earlier foul that resulted in the opening goal, the center back headed the ball down, but Louro was there to collect it.

The Young Lions found an equalizer in the 39th minute through a great individual effort by Juninho. A throw-in by OCB ended up with the midfielder in a seemingly innocuous position. The Brazilian split two defenders before entering the box and sent a strong shot towards the goal. The ball beat Louro into the far corner to even the game at 1-1.

The final chance of the first half came in the 45th minute, when Solis found Mohammed at the top of the Cincinnati box. The forward attempted a long-distance shot, but it was always going high and didn’t cause any concern for Louro.

After 45 minutes of play, OCB had more possession (72.5%-27.5%), shots (8-2), shots on target (5-1), corners (6-0), crosses (14-2), and better passing accuracy (92%-74.1%). However, the hosts made it to the break with the game tied at 1-1.

As if the long delay to start the game didn’t make the night long enough for both teams, the start of the second half was delayed when the referees didn’t appear from the locker room. Both teams waited for around 10 minutes, warming up while they waited for the officials to arrive. Eventually, they decided to show up and the second half commenced.

OCB got off to an inauspicious second-half start, conceding a goal inside the first minute. Dribbling the ball out of the back, Perez lost it to Dreas at the top of the center circle. Dreas found Mills to his right before entering the box and the forward quickly shot. Granados was on the attacker and appeared to get a touch to the ball, enabling it to flick over Otero and in to make it 2-1 Cincinnati.

The Young Lions got their first shot of the second half in the 52nd minute when a long ball by Solis for Mohammed was touched back for Lynn. The forward shot from outside of the box, but it was blocked by Akpunonu. A minute later, Perez found Mohammed at the penalty spot, but his header was right at Louro.

The hosts made OCB pay for those misses when they scored a third in the 54th minute. It started when Solis attempted to dribble through a defender, but lost the ball. Cincinnati worked it to the left where it ended up with Isaiah Foster. The midfielder quickly found halftime substitute Philip Horton, who sent a cross to the near post. Mills was there to redirect the ball past Otero for his second goal of the game.

Right off the kickoff, OCB got a goal back. Juninho made a long run towards the Cincinnati box and found Perez on the left. The left back quickly sent a low cross into the box for Lynn. The forward couldn’t control the ball, but it bounced off Dreas and past Louro to make it a 3-2 game.

OCB nearly found an equalizer in the 65th minute when Solis took a shot from outside of the box. Louro had been sure-handed for most of the game, but blocked the ball to Lynn right in front of goal with nobody around. Unfortunately, Lynn hit the rebound into the ground and over the goal from point-blank range.

Juninho nearly topped his earlier goal in the 67th minute when he made a long run into the Cincinnati box. He dribbled through three defenders and used some fancy footwork to create space for a shot. The midfielder was aiming for the far post and beat Louro, but the ball skipped just wide.

Three minutes later, Juninho scored his second goal of the game. Solis found him just outside of the box and he used a good touch to beat his defender, creating room for a shot. With plenty of space, Juninho hit the top corner of the goal for the second time in the game to tie it at 3-3.

The Young Lions took their first lead of the night two minutes later. Solis sent Perez down the left and the defender took a shot on goal that was blocked by Louro. The rebound went right back to Perez, but Louro made a second stop. Finally, Lynn ended up with the ball and put it in to give OCB a 4-3 lead.

In the 75th minute, OCB extended its advantage. The Young Lions had a throw-in and FC Cincinnati 2 took the stoppage to make a substitution. Taifi threw it to Juninho, who spun to beat his defender. Nobody stepped up to challenge him, allowing enough time to slip the ball through for Lynn. Louro got a piece of the shot, but not enough as it went in to make it 5-3.

OCB Head Coach Martin Perelman made his first change in the 78th minute, replacing Lynn with Cristofer Acuna.

In the 82nd minute, OCB almost scored a sixth. The Young Lions used quick movement and sharp passing to maintain possession, primarily working through Mohammed. Eventually, Medina played the ball for Almaguer, but he let it go to Perez behind him. The defender played it to Almaguer, who made a run towards the end line and received it back at the top of the box. After a couple of touches inside to beat his defender, Perez shot past Louro towards the top corner. It was heading in, but Akpunonu got his head to the ball, clearing it off the goal line.

Two minutes after that attempt, Perelman made four changes. Tahir Reid-Brown, Fernando Sanchez, Wilfredo Rivera, and Thomas Williams all came on at the same time for Perez, Solis, Mohammed, and Almaguer.

OCB was just trying to see out the game, but lost a player in the 89th minute when Rivera was shown a straight red by referee Jeremy Scheer. Horton received the ball on the sideline and used a quick touch to beat Medina. Rivera came flying in, swinging at the ball but missing it and catching Horton. Scheer immediately issued Rivera a red card, but replays showed it should’ve been a yellow at most. Since VAR doesn’t exist in MLS NEXT Pro, OCB had to finish the game with 10 men. Per MLS NEXT Pro rules, Rivera will serve his suspension the next time the two teams meet in the final game of the season.

FC Cincinnati 2 held possession for most of the four added minutes, but was unable to create anything and OCB returns home with three points from Northern Kentucky.

Overall, it was a dominant performance by the Young Lions. They had more possession (67.7%-32.3%), shots (24-4), shots on target (13-3), corners (8-0), and crosses (23-6), and better passing accuracy (88.3%-77.3%). Given the statistical dominance, it was only fair that the Young Lions claimed all three points.

The Young Lions have struggled on the road for most of the season, so this is a welcome result as they look to make the MLS NEXT Pro playoffs for the first time. It’s their third win away from home this season after opening the year by beating Philadelphia Union II 3-1 and Inter Miami II 1-0 on May 25.

The win keeps OCB in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, three points ahead of Atlanta United 2. The Young Lions are also three points behind New York Red Bulls II for fourth with 12 games remaining.

After playing two games this week, OCB will have a full week off before facing Huntsville City FC in Alabama next Sunday night.

Orlando City B

Orlando City B vs. Carolina Core FC: Final Score 2-1 as Young Lions Fall Apart in Second Half

A poor second half saw OCB lose at home to Carolina Core FC, ending a three-game unbeaten run.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B / Mark Thor

Orlando City B (4-5-6, 21 points) let a 1-0 halftime lead slip away in the second 45 minutes as the Young Lions fell 2-1 to Carolina Core FC (3-7-4, 16 points) at Osceola County Stadium. Shak Mohammed gave the Young Lions the lead just before the break but an Ibrahim Covi penalty and Joshua Rodriguez breakaway in the second half lifted the visitors to the win.

OCB Head Coach Manuel Goldberg deployed the same starting lineup that drew 2-2 with Atlanta United 2 on June 26. The back line in front of goalkeeper Carlos Mercado included Zakaria Taifi, Thomas Williams, Nabi Kibunguchy, and Alex Freeman. Imanol Almaguer and Colin Guske were the defensive midfielders behind Yeiler Valencia, Mohammed, and Jhon Solis with Wilfredo Rivera up top.

The surprise in the lineup was the inclusion of Freeman at right back. The Homegrown product came on in the 83rd minute for the first team Saturday night, recording an assist in the 5-0 win over D.C. United.

The first half of this game was quite even with both teams having plenty of possession and chances. A tied game at halftime would’ve been fair, but Mohammed’s late first-half conversion gave OCB the lead. The second half was a different story with Carolina completely controlling things. They had more chances, shots on target, and possession in the second 45 minutes while the Young Lions struggled to stay in the game. The second half made the 2-1 Carolina win a fair result as OCB lost its first game since June 2.

The Young Lions got the first chance of the game in the second minute from a Carolina turnover. Carlos Diaz’s throw-in to Covi was a bad one, enabling Valencia to reach it first. Covi got a touch to it to take it off Valencia’s foot, but it went directly to Rivera. Carrying it to the top of the Carolina box, the forward shot for the far post but missed wide.

In the fourth minute, Alenga Charles found Carolina captain Jacob Evans at the top of the OCB box. The midfielder took one touch before shooting for the far post. Mercado did well to dive to his left, tipping the ball around the post for a corner kick. Evans’ ensuing set piece was flicked towards goal by Santiago Cambindo, but it was just over the crossbar, landing on top of the net.

In the seventh minute, a poor pass by Kibunguchy went directly to Jathan Juarez in the OCB third of the field. The midfielder played it over the top for Facundo Canete, running behind the Lions’ back line. He nearly got his head to the ball, but Mercado got there first.

Immediately after taking possession, Mercado sent a long ball forward for Valencia. The OCB midfielder carried it inside and took a shot, aiming for the near post. However, Carolina goalkeeper Alex Sutton had it covered and made an easy stop.

In the 10th minute, Canete received the ball deep from Diaz and was given enough space for a shot. He was about 30 yards from goal but decided to fire anyway. While the shot was on target, it didn’t cause any trouble for Mercado.

The Young Lions had a great chance to take the lead in the 12th minute when Solis chipped the ball over his defender to Mohammed running behind. The attacker’s first touch was towards goal for Rivera, who tried to tap it past Sutton. Kai Thomas did well to get back and, together with Sutton, was able to block the attempt.

Sutton was a little too comfortable with the ball in the 36th minute, nearly creating a chance for OCB. Rivera put pressure on the goalkeeper and nearly took the ball off of his foot with nobody else between the forward and the goal. However, Sutton was able to get rid of it before Rivera could win the ball.

As the game went into stoppage time, it looked as though an OCB game would be scoreless at the break for the first time since May 25, 2023. But in the third minute, the Young Lions took the advantage. Receiving the ball from Solis, Valencia used a quick turn to beat his defender and carried the ball into the box from the left. His low cross was looking for Mohammed or Freeman making runs, but was close to Sutton. The Carolina goalkeeper and Freeman arrived at the ball at the same time, resulting in it getting past both. Mohammed was the first to reach it, knocking it in and giving the Young Lions a 1-0 lead at halftime.

It was a pretty even first half with both teams having plenty of possession and creating multiple chances. OCB had more shots (7-6) and shots on target (4-2), while Carolina had more corner kicks (3-2) and better passing accuracy (91.7%-88.6%). Both teams also had a pair of crosses.

In the 48th minute, Kibunguchy collided with Rodriguez, resulting in the OCB center back being called for the foul. The defender remained down and required attention, eventually getting up with a bandage wrapped around his head. In the meantime, Goldberg was booked for dissent.

Evans took the ensuing free kick and made it look like he would shoot, but played it behind the wall to halftime substitute Derek Cuevas instead. Mercado did well to block the shot, but it went directly to Rodriguez. The second attempt beat Mercado and looked to be heading inside the far post, but Mohammed got back to block it wide. Carolina couldn’t do anything with the corner kick and the Young Lions were able to keep their lead.

OCB’s first chance of the second half came in the 57th minute when Almaguer found Mohammed at the top of the box and the attacker played it on for Valencia on the left side. The midfielder shot on goal, but it was straight to Sutton.

The visitors got a well-deserved equalizer in the 60th minute from the spot. It started when Diaz’s cross into the box was headed out by Kibunguchy. The ensuing corner kick bounced around the box, including off the shin of Freeman, before Rodriguez took control. Almaguer came flying in from behind, taking Rodriguez down and referee Elton Garcia pointed to the spot. 

After a brief delay while Rodriguez received treatment, Covi stepped up to take the kick. Mercado dove to his right and Covi hit the ball as hard as he could into the roof of the net, evening the game at 1-1.

Immediately after the goal, Goldberg made his first change of the game as Favian Loyola came on for Rivera.

In the 67th minute, OCB nearly had an opportunity to retake the lead, but the visitors did instead. Solis passed up an opportunity to cross in on the initial attack, then used a few twists and turns to lose his defenders and get a more contested cross off from the end line. The ball was just over the fingers of Sutton and Valencia was ready to shoot near the back post, but Diaz cleared it away.

The ball went to midfield where Rodriguez and Williams were waiting. As the OCB center back stepped up, the ball went behind him, sending Rodriguez free on goal. Williams nearly caught up with the attacker, but he was able to chip Mercado before the defender could make up for his mistake, giving the visitors a 2-1 lead.

Carolina had a chance to take a two-goal lead in the 75th minute when Aryeh Miller sent Cuevas into the OCB box. He got past Loyola and into the 18 with space for a shot, but sent it straight to Mercado.

Goldberg made his final two changes in the 79th minute bringing on Tahir Reid-Brown and Majed Abdullah for Freeman and Almaguer. It was Reid-Brown’s first game for OCB since April 28, missing the previous eight games with a long-term injury.

“You always have positive things out of the match,” Goldberg said about Reid-Brown’s return. “This is something really positive for us for sure.”

The Young Lions nearly had an open shot in the 86th minute when Reid-Brown played Valencia down the left and the midfielder used his change of pace to beat his defender. Mohammed was making a run into the box and Valencia tried to connect with him, but the pass was just out of his reach, enabling Carolina to clear the danger.

OCB had multiple free kicks in the six minutes of added time that were headed down by Williams, but nobody was able to get on the end of them. Despite Carolina playing behind the ball, the Young Lions were unable to create anything in the final minutes and fell 2-1.

The visitors dominated the second 45 minutes, ending the game with the advantage in shots (12-8), shots on target (7-5), corner kicks (6-3), and passing accuracy (91.6%-90.4%). OCB had more crosses (6-4), but was unable to create anything from them.

The loss ends a three-game unbeaten run that featured three consecutive 2-2 draws. It also extends the Young Lions’ winless run to five games with their last victory coming on May 26 in a 5-0 win over Huntsville City FC in Kissimmee.

“We didn’t do the game as we’ve been doing in the last couple of ones. And, of course, we had a lower performance,” Goldberg said about the game. “But the goals we got scored on were really separate from what happened in the match. So it’s tough.”

“Really hard one. I think as a team we were fine,” Mohammed added. “We didn’t have our best game. It wasn’t our best game. We’ve been playing really well I think recently, so it’s hard to take that we didn’t play really well today. But, having said that, I think we’ll bounce back like we always do. And we’re going through a tough moment. but we always bounce back and I know all the guys are ready to show up and keep going. So, we’ll be ready for the next game, and that’s the only thing we can do, respond and win the next game.”

OCB drops a position to 10th in MLS NEXT Pro’s Eastern Conference with 21 points. The Young Lions are still within touching distance of the eighth and final playoff spot, sitting three points behind NYCFC II. However, they’re five points behind Columbus Crew 2, New York Red Bulls II, and Crown Legacy FC in a crowded table.

OCB will take the field next on July 14 when the club welcomes Inter Miami II to Osceola County Stadium for the final game of its five-game homestand. It will be a key game against the in-state rivals as Miami currently sits one point ahead of the Young Lions.

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Orlando City B

Orlando City B vs. Atlanta United 2: Final Score 2-2 as OCB Pulls Out Draw with Last-Second Equalizer

OCB drew 2-2 with Atlanta United 2 after a last-second equalizer, then won the penalty shootout.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B / Mark Thor

Orlando City B (4-4-6, 21 points) drew Atlanta United 2 (3-6-3, 13 points) 2-2 tonight at Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee and took a second point on penalties. The Young Lions took the lead in the 11th minute through Wilfredo Rivera, but second-half goals by Nick Firmino and Karim Tmimi gave the visitors a late lead. It took a last-second strike by substitute Favian Loyola to save a point for the hosts. The Young Lions then won the penalty shootout 5-3 to claim the extra point.

There were three changes to the OCB starting lineup from the team’s 2-2 draw with Chattanooga FC on June 13. In goal, Carlos Mercado replaced Javier Otero, who is with the senior team, Zakaria Taifi started at left back in place of Manuel Cocca, and Rivera returned from the first team, replacing Justin Ellis in the attack. The back line in front of Mercado was Taifi, Thomas Williams, Nabi Kibunguchy, and Alex Freeman. Imanol Almaguer and Colin Guske were the defensive midfielders behind Yeiler Valencia, Shak Mohammed, and Jhon Solis with Rivera alone up top.

There was about a 45-minute delay to the start of the game due to severe weather in the area, so the game didn’t get underway until 7:49 p.m. OCB dominated the chances for much of the night and should’ve had a multi-goal lead at halftime. However, the Young Lions struggled to hit the target and it looked like that would doom them as they gave up an equalizer and eventually trailed 2-1 in second-half stoppage time. Fortunately, a terrific individual effort by Loyola helped OCB get a result.

The visitors kicked off to start the game and quickly attacked. The first chance came just over a minute into the game when Firmino laid the ball off for Javier Armas, who took a long-distance shot that sailed just over the goal.

It looked like OCB would get its first chance in the fifth minute when a long ball out of the back found Solis on the right. The midfielder took a touch towards the end line and attempted a cross, but it was too close to Atlanta goalkeeper Josh Cohen.

Atlanta had most of the early possession, but the Young Lions took the lead in the 11th minute. After receiving the ball from Kibunguchy, Solis sent it down the right for Freeman. Cohen came out of his goal, leaving it wide open with Rivera entering the box. Freeman played it to the forward near the penalty spot, and Rivera passed it into the empty net to give OCB the early 1-0 advantage.

The visitors tried to get on the board themselves shortly after the goal through their leading goal scorer. Firmino had an overlap option to his left, but decided to dribble inside instead. Solis was unsure whether to take the overlap or Firmino, providing the forward with space for a shot from distance. However, his attempt was well wide of the target.

OCB should’ve had a second goal in the 18th minute when Solis sent Mohammed into the box. The attacker reached the ball and played it back to Freeman before it went out of play. Unfortunately, the right back didn’t hit the ball first-time and then couldn’t get over it, sending it over the top.

In the 21st minute, Atlanta had a good chance when Firmino played Armas into the six-yard box to beat Freeman. The midfielder’s first touch was a shot, but he hit it into the outside of the net. Mercado had come out to challenge Armas and was down briefly before getting up.

The Young Lions quickly went the other way and created an opportunity when Freeman laid the ball off for Solis. Mohammed made a run into the box and Solis found him, but the attacker’s shot was off target.

Two minutes later, Rivera played a ball for Almaguer, who was sprinting into the Atlanta box and behind the back line. The OCB captain’s first touch was a shot towards goal, but it again sailed over the top.

Mohammed had two chances in quick succession in the 27th minute. First, Solis beat Jacob Williams on the end line and played the ball to the top of the six for Mohammed. His shot would’ve been on target, but Matthew Edwards slid in to block it. The Young Lions kept possession, enabling Freeman to play Mohammed behind the back line, but his second shot was wide of the far post.

Atlanta players felt they should’ve had a penalty in the 32nd minute after a shot from outside of the box was blocked by Almaguer. Matias Gallardo took possession and attempted to dribble around Taifi. The two collided and went down with Atlanta appealing for a penalty. However, referee Alejo Calume determined it was a clean challenge.

The visitors nearly found an equalizer in the 37th minute when Valencia blocked Erik Centeno’s cross attempt out of play for a corner kick. The ensuing set piece found Ethan Dudley at the back post, who outjumped Taifi. The center back got his head to the ball but sent it just wide.

As the first half continued, Atlanta found more possession in the final third, but OCB was able to keep the visitors at a distance. In the 42nd minute, Williams played the ball to Noble Okello, who fired from well outside of the box. He wasn’t able to get over it and sent the shot well over the target.

On the other end, a fancy backheel by Almaguer ended up with Valencia on the far side, and the midfielder’s shot was deflected out of play for a corner kick. The set piece by Almaguer was sent to the back side of the box for Rivera, who sent a dangerous cross that went over the head of Freeman. Almaguer collected it and shot, but it was blocked.

The Young Lions had one last chance in the fourth minute of first-half stoppage time when Solis’ cross was blocked out of play. Atlanta cleared the corner kick and the halftime whistle blew, sending OCB into the break up 1-0.

While OCB had more first-half shots (12-7) and corner kicks (3-2), Atlanta had more crosses (8-1) and better passing accuracy (94.6%-90.8%). The Young Lions should’ve had a multi-goal lead at the break, but inaccurate shooting kept the visitors in the game, as they put only one of their 12 attempts on target.

OCB had the first second-half chance in the 47th minute when Valencia collected the ball at the top left corner of the box. The midfielder’s shot from outside of the 18 was directly to Cohen and caught by the goalkeeper.

In the 51st minute, a nice give-and-go between Mohammed and Solis from the left side of the box sent Mohammed behind the back line. The attacker shot from a tight angle, but sent it straight into the waiting arms of Cohen.

Atlanta had a golden chance in the 53rd minute when Centeno’s cross bounced off of Williams and landed at the feet of Firmino right in front of the goal. Fortunately, Kibunguchy was in a good position to block the shot.

The visitors had another good chance in the 56th minute when Williams’ cross found Centeno at the back post. The right back attempted to make his first touch a shot, but the ball got caught in his feet, enabling Taifi to clear.

The Young Lions immediately went the other way with Taifi leading the charge. While the defender didn’t have anyone making a run into the box, he won a corner kick. The ensuing set piece by Almaguer found Kibunguchy at the top of the six-yard box. The header attempt by the center back was on target, but Cohen was there to make the stop.

In the 63rd minute, Guske found Freeman with space in the attacking third. The right back dribbled forward and took a shot from the top of the box but sent it over the top.

It appeared as though Valencia had an excellent chance to double the OCB lead in the 66th minute when he was sent behind the Atlanta defense with a beautiful ball from Solis. He opened up to shoot for the far corner, but Cohen did well to stop it with one hand. It wouldn’t have counted anyway as the flag went up for offside.

The Young Lions had a great chance in the 69th minute when Rivera laid the ball off for Freeman making a run into the right side of the box. Freeman got a cross off just before the ball crossed the end line and it was met by the head of Mohammed. Unfortunately, the attempt at goal was just wide of the far post.

Atlanta went to the other end and found the equalizer. Centeno played Alan Carleton forward and the second-half substitute sent a cross towards the back post. Firmino was there with nobody on him, heading the ball off Mercado’s hand and in to even the game at 1-1.

Two minutes after the goal, Kibunguchy fouled Tmimi, giving Atlanta a free kick near the top of the OCB box. Armas stepped up to take the set piece but sent it over the top of the goal.

In the 80th minute, Mercado went down with an apparent injury, causing a delay, during which the players went to the sidelines. While still experiencing some discomfort, Mercado was able to continue. During the stoppage, OCB made its first substitution as Loyola replaced Freeman.

Edwards made a long run with the ball into the OCB box in the 83rd minute, beating Taifi in the process. The Atlanta captain got a shot off towards the far post, but Kibunguchy slid in and blocked the attempt out of play.

After clearing the corner kick, the Young Lions went the other way and created a chance of their own. Loyola received the ball on the right sideline and spotted Taifi making a run into the box from the far side. The defender got his head to the cross, but sent it wide.

Looking to send a teammate through in the 88th minute, Rivera sent a bad pass straight to Carleton. The substitute quickly darted the other way, dribbling all the way into the OCB third of the field. He found Tmimi to his right and the forward shot the ball between the legs of Williams and Mercado to give Atlanta a late 2-1 lead.

OCB had a good chance in the second minute of stoppage time when Solis was taken down by Carleton just outside of the box. The free kick by Solis was to Mohammed with his back to goal. The attacker attempted to backheel the ball past Cohen, but sent it just wide of the near post.

It looked like OCB would fall short, but the Young Lions got an equalizer with the final kick of the game. In the fifth minute of second-half stoppage time, Loyola received the ball from Rivera and used a nice cut to beat Okello. The forward shot from the top of the box, beating Cohen to his near post to even the game at 2-2.

“It’s an amazing moment. Especially coming back from the (Chile U-20) national team,” Loyola said about his goal. “It shows I have a lot of confidence coming into this match and especially the rest of the year.”

“He just came from the national team, he did a great job there, he’s in a great moment,” OCB Head Coach Manuel Goldberg said about Loyola. “So we’re really happy for him.”

Immediately after the goal, Calume blew his whistle and OCB got its third consecutive home draw.

At full time, OCB had more shots (22-16) and shots on target (5-4) than the visitors. Meanwhile, Atlanta had the edge in corner kicks (6-4), crosses (11-3), and passing accuracy (90.8%-88%). Despite creating more chances, it took a last-second goal to get points.

“Difficult match,” Loyola said about the game. “Obviously we could’ve executed a lot better. 1-0, 2-1, we went down and it just came to me to score the last goal.”

Due to MLS NEXT Pro rules, each team gained a point in the standings, but they went to penalties to see who got the extra point.

OCB was perfect in the shootout with quality penalties by  Solis, Rivera, Guske, Loyola, and Mohammed. After Armas and Okello put theirs away, Mercado stopped Carleton’s attempt. That was the decider, as Firmino scored, but Mohammed’s conversion gave OCB the shootout win, 5-3.

“Of course, we are happy we were able to turn it around and win the penalties. But again, we get stuck in these ups and downs we are trying to get rid of,” Goldberg said about the performance. “So we’re going to keep working on that.”

The second point is crucial for the Young Lions as they sit on 21 points, one ahead of Crown Legacy FC for the eighth and final playoff spot . They’re tied with Columbus Crew 2, one point behind NYCFC II, and two points behind New York Red Bulls II in a crowded Eastern Conference.

OCB will now have an extended break before taking the field July 14 at Osceola County Stadium against another rival, Inter Miami II.

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Orlando City B

Orlando City B vs. Chattanooga FC: Final Score 2-2 as OCB Drops Points at Home

OCB scores late but concedes later to draw Chattanooga FC 2-2 at home.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B / Mark Thor

Orlando City B (4-4-5, 19 points) drew its second consecutive game at Osceola County Stadium, sharing the points in a 2-2 result with Chattanooga FC (6-2-6, 28 points) tonight. The Young Lions took the lead when Shak Mohammed headed in an Imanol Almaguer corner kick in the 30th minute. Mehdi Ouamri equalized in the 56th minute and it appeared as though OCB had won it when Jhon Solis converted a penalty in the 89th minute. However, Duvan Viafara’s stoppage-time goal saw the game end 2-2. Chattanooga dominated the shootout after some poor penalties by OCB, enabling the visitors to take the extra point.

OCB Head Coach Manuel Goldberg used the same lineup that drew 2-2 with Carolina Core FC Friday night. The back line in front of Javier Otero was Manuel Cocca, Thomas Williams, Nabi Kibunguchy, and Alex Freeman. Almaguer and Colin Guske were the defensive midfielders behind Yeiler Valencia, Mohammed, and Solis with Justin Ellis up top.

This game will be seen as points lost for OCB as the Young Lions dominated the 90 minutes. They likely would’ve won by multiple goals if not for some stellar play by Chattanooga goalkeeper Jean Antoine, but still took a lead into stoppage time. They were lucky that Jesus Ibarra’s last-minute free kick was off the post and Otero, but failed to clear the danger, enabling the visitors to steal two points.

The Young Lions created the game’s first chance in the fifth minute. Solis sent Freeman down the right and the right back’s second touch was a low cross for Mohammed in the box. The first-team forward turned to shoot, but sent the attempt over the crossbar.

A lackadaisical pass by Milo Garvanian to Farid Sar-Sar in the eighth minute was intercepted by Mohammed. Sar-Sar was the last defender and stuck his foot out, tripping Mohammed. It should’ve resulted in a red card for Sar-Sar as he was clearly the last defender, but referee Calin Radosav gave the defender a yellow card instead.

After a free kick and throw-in didn’t result in anything for the Young Lions, Chattanooga sprinted the other way with a counterattack. The pass out of the back went to Ibarra, who attempted to play it forward for Alex McGrath. Guske deflected the pass, but only to Ouamri behind him. The striker took the first on-target shot, but it was blocked away by Otero.

The Young Lions felt they should’ve had a penalty in the 11th minute when Mohammed received the ball at the top of the box. Contact came from Jesse Williams, resulting in Mohammed going to the ground. However, Radosav didn’t see anything wrong with the challenge.

In the 18th minute, Valencia received the ball on the left. Cutting back, he found Mohammed, who quickly played it further back to Solis. The midfielder attempted to curl the ball from outside of the box inside the far post, but it was just wide.

Ibarra created a shot for himself in the 26th minute with a winding run to the top of the box. He was looking for a shot the entire time and eventually found the necessary space. However, his attempt sailed well wide of the goal.

Valencia made a run down the left and to the end line in the 29th minute. Looking to cut it back and defended by Williams, the ball went out of play. Radosav awarded OCB a corner kick, which the Chattanooga players couldn’t believe, thinking it went off of Valencia. The protests resulted in Williams getting booked.

The ensuing corner kick by Almaguer was to the near post where Mohammed met it with his head. The redirection was past Antoine and in to give the Young Lions a 1-0 lead.

“I think I’ve just trusted a lot more my teammates to get me in the right spaces,” Mohammed said about his team-leading six goals on the season. “And then I’ve just stayed patient and mentally stable to just keep going and taking on the responsibility of helping the team in any way that I can.”

Valencia almost scored a second for the Young Lions in the 35th minute. It started with a strong run into the middle by Freeman, who found Mohammed to his left. The forward played it further left for Valencia, who moved inside and found space to shoot. The attempt from outside of the box was aiming for the far post and beat Antoine but hit the woodwork.

In the 36th minute, Almaguer was tripped by Taylor Gray, earning a yellow card for the foul. More importantly, it gave OCB a free kick in a dangerous position. The set piece was off the wall and out for a corner kick. Almaguer’s ensuing ball nearly found the head of Williams, but was a bit too far in front of him. Instead, it went to the far side of the box. Kibugnuchy ran down the ball and found Mohammed in the box. The forward attempted to turn it on target, but sent the attempt over the goal.

The Young Lions won another corner kick in the 40th minute and it resulted in another good chance. Almaguer sent the set piece towards the top of the six-yard box where Williams was charging to the near post. He got his head to the ball, but sent it wide of the target.

OCB had more first-half shots (10-4) and corner kicks (4-1) than Chattanooga, but was less efficient in front of goal. Both teams put one shot on target and tallied one first-half cross. Meanwhile, Chattanooga was more accurate passing (88.5%-84.9%) than the hosts.

After controlling much of the first half, OCB continued at the start of the second 45 minutes. In the 48th minute, Ellis made a run towards the top of the box before being tripped by Viafara. Cocca stepped up to take the set piece, putting it on target, but Antoine pushed it away.

In the 52nd minute, Mohammed continued a pass from Freeman into the box for Valencia. The left-sided midfielder took a touch to his right to lose Jesse Williams and fired on goal. The attempt was on target, but Antoine tipped it over the crossbar. The ensuing corner kick was cleared by Chattanooga, ending the threat.

The visitors found their equalizer in the 56th minute with some nice work up the field between Ibarra and Ouamri. The duo passed back and forth as they made their way through the OCB defense. Ibarra dribbled right past Thomas Williams before sending Ouamri into the box. Kibunguchy looked to pick up the run, but the forward easily got past the center back with one touch. It was an easy finish for the striker as Otero dove unsuccessfully and the game was even at 1-1.

OCB made three changes in the 61st minute. Zakaria Taifi, Wilfredo Rivera, and Jackson Platts came in for Thomas Williams, Freeman, and Mohammed. While Taifi and Rivera have played regularly this season, it was Platts’ second professional appearance.

Chattanooga had a chance to take its first lead of the night in the 70th minute when McGrath and Sar-Sar played a give-and-go, setting McGrath up for a shot from the top of the box. It was towards the near post but didn’t cause much trouble for Otero, who was able to get down and make the stop.

A minute later, Valencia reached a free ball before Sar-Sar and was in on goal. As he approached the six-yard box, the midfielder opened up and aimed for the far post. It wasn’t a bad shot, but Antoine made himself big and got his left hand to it, keeping the game at 1-1.

In the 72nd minute, Rivera carried the ball towards the top of the box before sending a low shot to the back post. However, Antoine was able to get to the attempt and knocked it out of play. The ensuing corner kick by Almaguer was to the top of the six, where Cocca and Viafara attempted to head it. Both players thought the other touched it last and Radosav gave Chattanooga a goal kick.

OCB made its fourth substitution of the game in the 77th minute as Thomas Bowe replaced Ellis.

Right after the sub, Rivera had another chance from outside of the box. He used a good touch with the outside of his foot to lose two defenders and dribbled to the top of the 18. The attacker was looking to beat Antoine to his near post, but sent the shot just wide.

On the other end, it looked like Chattanooga was about to score when Ouamri played McGrath behind the OCB back line and into the box. The Chattanooga captain chipped it over Otero and Guske cleared it before it reached the goal line. It wouldn’t have counted anyway as McGrath was ruled offside.

In the 81st minute, Solis used a nice stepover to beat a pair of defenders and create space for a shot at the top of the box. It appeared as though the attempt was on target, but Antoine did well to tip it wide of the far post. The ensuing corner kick was cleared away and the Young Lions lost another chance to retake the lead.

After being kept off the scoreboard in the second half by Antoine, OCB got a golden opportunity to retake the lead in the 86th minute. It was a chance created by Valencia, who beat Williams and entered the box before being pulled down by the defender. It took a few seconds for Radosav to make the call and Valencia threw his arms up in the air, but Radosav eventually pointed to the spot.

Solis stood over the ball while Williams received treatment. When he got up, the midfielder took the spot kick and didn’t make any mistakes. Antoine stood completely still while Solis prepared to take the kick before diving to his right. Solis powered the ball high and down the middle, giving the Young Lions a 2-1 lead.

“That’s what we need, what we expect from him,” Goldberg said about Solis’ penalty conversion. “Unfortunately here it’s not congratulating him, but it’s what we expect. We, of course, are really happy that he was able to do that.”

It looked like OCB had scored the winner, but Chattanooga found a very late equalizer when an Otero punch out of the box resulted in a collision between Valencia and McGrath. It looked like Valencia got the ball, but Radosav called a foul and issued the midfielder a yellow card. The set piece by Ibarra was off the post and then Otero’s back before Kibunguchy cleared it out of play.

Luis Garcia Sosa quickly threw the ball into Ibarra who sent a cross towards the back post. Jude Arhtur out jumped Taifi, heading the ball down to where Viafara could knock it in, evening the game at 2-2.

The Young Lions had one last chance in the seventh minute of second-half stoppage time when Valencia found Rivera in front of goal. However, the attacker couldn’t control it, enabling the visitors to clear.

OCB dominated the game statistically with more shots (20-9), shots on target (8-4), and corner kicks (9-3). Both teams had three crosses in the game and Chattanooga had better passing accuracy (85.6%-80.9%).

“Lots of ups and downs like we had last game, but the other way around,” Goldberg said about the game. “But that’s how it works. You can do everything right, everything right, everything right and from one moment to the other, things can get tough. So, those are the moments to step up and get strong.”

“Obviously it’s really hard because we were winning with five minutes to go and then we couldn’t get the result. But I thought we played really well, so as a team we were amazing,” Mohammed said. “Everyone brought something to the table and it was amazing. It’s just unfortunate that we’re walking away with two less points than we would have, wanted to have. But we’ll bounce back and go again.”

Per MLS NEXT Pro rules, the game went into penalties to decide who got a second point. After watching two points go out the window with a late equalizer by the opposition, the Young Lions had their worst shootout of the season. Solis and Anatolie Prepelita converted the first two shots, but Cocca tried to go down the middle, enabling Antoine to block it with his legs. Ouamri converted his attempt and the visitors took the advantage.

Taifi was next and went for a corner, but Antoine guessed correctly and made the stop. Joseph Perez did well with his attempt, sending Otero the wrong way and making it 3-1. Valencia took the best penalty for the hosts to keep them alive, but Ibarra put his in the corner while Otero stood flat-footed to give Chattanooga the extra point.

The point sees the Young Lions sit in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They’re only one point behind New York Red Bulls II and Columbus Crew 2, but a point ahead of Inter Miami II and two points ahead of Crown Legacy FC.

OCB will look to claim its first win of this three-game homestand on June 26 when it welcomes Atlanta United 2 to Kissimmee.

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