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Orlando City B

Orlando City B vs. Chicago Fire FC II: Final Score 3-2 as Young Lions Squander Lead then Mount Comeback Win

Juninho and Jack Lynn scored in the second half to lift OCB past Chicago Fire FC II in Kissimmee.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B / Mark Thor

The Young Lions of Orlando City B are rarely boring, whether winning or losing. OCB (10-7-2, 33 points) squandered an early 1-0 lead, fell behind, then came back to beat Chicago Fire FC II (6-7-6, 25 points) 3-2 at Osceola County Stadium tonight. Jack Lynn scored a brace, sandwiching his two goals around a Juninho strike. Billy Hency tied the game at 1-1 before the half, and Luka Prpa broke the deadlock and gave Fire FC II a lead early in the second half, but the Young Lions were able to rally at home once again.

“I think it was a really tough match for us,” OCB Head Coach Martin Perelman said after the game. “We faced a really good team. They press really well. We knew that. It’s so hard to play against them. But fortunately we were able to keep the three points. I believe the players had a good game. They had a good performance.”

Perelman’s starting lineup featured Javier Otero in goal behind a back line of Moises Tablante, Nabi Kibunguchy, Zakaria Taifi, and Alex Freeman. Cristian Medina played as a lone No. 6 in front of the back line, behind a midfield line of Jhon Solis, Juninho, Imanol Almaguer, and Shak Mohammed, with Lynn up top.

The match was fairly open from the start. Freeman got the first look at goal when he was send down the right side of the box in the second minute by Mohammed. The fullback hit his shot too close to goalkeeper Mihajlo Miskovic, who stuck out a foot to make the save.

Chicago then won a couple of corners but could do nothing with them.

The Young Lions grabbed the lead in the 10th minute. Almaguer ended up with the ball about 25 yards out from goal on the right side. He spotted Lynn making a run toward the back post and curled a beautiful cross in for Lynn to nod home. It was Lynn’s 11th goal of the season, putting him back in the Golden Boot race.

Lynn tried to make it 2-0 in the 17th minute but had his shot blocked.

Chicago nearly pulled the early OCB goal back a moments later. A slip by an Orlando City defender gave Omari Glasgow a breakaway. Otero came off his line and blocked Glasgow’s shot with his face to preserve the lead in the 18th minute. Two minutes later, the Young Lions gave the ball away inside their own penalty area while trying to play out of the back, but Hency turned and fired his shot just high and wide of the right post.

The Fire were forced to make a change in the 27th minute as defender Andreas Ueland picked up a knock and was replaced by Eric Leonard.

Two minutes later, the Young Lions came within inches of scoring twice. Juninho burst down the left side of the penalty area and fired a shot that Miskovic got a piece of but it got through him. The ball hit the right post and stayed out. Seconds later, the ball was sent in for Lynn, who headed it off the crossbar and Freeman tried to follow but couldn’t keep his shot on target.

Those misses were costly, as Chicago tied the match in the 35th minute. Kibunguchy got caught too high and he slipped, giving Fire FC II a transition opportunity. Freeman was also caught up field, so Chicago had two attackers on three defenders, but OCB wasn’t able to retain its defensive shape in transition. Charlie Ostrem had an easy pass across the box to Hency, who fired past Otero to make it 1-1.

“We had some mistakes, especially on defense that we paid (for) with goals,” Perelman said. “We missed a lot of opportunities for goals as well, but again, the players showed great heart to turn around the game and I really appreciate that, and we are so happy.”

Hency should have put Chicago up two minutes after his goal. The Fire roasted OCB’s high defensive line and had a 2-v-1 opportunity. Glasgow fed Hency from right to left but the shot missed the net. A minute after that, Glasgow had a shot blocked at the top of the area as Chicago stayed on the attack.

The Young Lions got back on the attack late in the half. Medina had a shot blocked from outside the area in the 41st minute, and moments later, Almaguer fired a shot in that was right at Miskovic. Mohammed had the last look of the half in the third minute of stoppage time. He streaked down the right side of the box but fired right at Miskovic at the near post, when he probably had a better option to cross it for Lynn.

The teams went to the break even at 1-1 and both could be considered fortunate not to be trailing.

OCB dominated possession in the first half (63%-37%), largely because Chicago was content to try to win the ball back and hit on the break. The Young Lions had more shots (8-7), shots on goal (5-2), corners (3-2), and passing accuracy (83.9%-71.4%).

OCB won a couple of quick corners to start the second half, but got burned on the second one. A high ball into the area was caught by Miskovic, who didn’t have to worry about Kibunguchy, who got wrapped up and bearhugged by a Chicago player. That enabled the Fire to break and it ended up down the right on Glasgow’s foot. He crossed for Prpa to finish, giving Chicago a 2-1 lead in the 50th minute (the announcer thought it was Hency, but it was Prpa).

Juninho tried to pull the goal right back all on his own. He dribbled from the midfield line all the way to the top of the area through multiple Chicago defenders. Once he got there, rather than even looking at his other options, he fired a shot that wasn’t directly at Miskovic, but it was close enough to the Chicago keeper to make for a comfortable save.

Perelman sent on Wilfredo Rivera and Abdi Salim for Mohammed and Freeman in the 54th minute, trying get his team back in the match. For Salim, it was his first action since sustaining a knee injury on May 19. Favian Loyola then replaced Taifi in the 64th for more attacking presence.

Just a minute after Loyola entered the match, OCB tied the game. The play started with a giveaway by Chicago, but it was yet another good individual effort by Juninho that allowed the Young Lions to level the game. He was surrounded just inside the top of the box but managed to fight through traffic and get the ball onto his right foot, blasting it past Miskovic to make it 2-2 in the 65th minute.

Just seconds after Juninho’s goal, Chicago got a good look. Prpa cut in from the right onto his left foot and sent a shot on target but sent it right at Otero. Two minutes later, Chicago again went on the break after OCB turned over the ball and a good cross nearly found Prpa, who collided with Otero and a foul was called on Chicago. Prpa had to leave the match for a concussion substitution.

Lynn got a few good looks just past the 70-minute mark and one eventually paid off. The first took place in the 71st minute when Tablante did well to get down the left side and fired in a cross that Lynn pegged for the inside of the near post. Miskovic got just enough of it to send it wide for a corner. Another cross off the ensuing set piece came to Lynn in front but it was just behind him and hit off his heel.

Lynn scored his second goal on an almost identical play to the one Miskovic stopped a minute earlier. Tablante got to the end line and fizzed a good, low cross into the box to Lynn at the near post. This time, Lynn was able to get more power on his shot and gave OCB the lead in the 72nd minute. It was Lynn’s 12th of the year, momentarily pushing him past Atlanta’s Nick Firmino for the Golden Boot lead.

“You always like scoring,” Lynn said. “Two crosses with Moises and Ima. It’s something we work on a lot in training, so it’s good to see those patterns we work on a lot in training come to fruition in games.”

“I’m happy for him,” Perelman said of Lynn’s performance. “He really wants to become the Golden Boot (winner) and I think he’s going to make it with his talent and with the help of the team that is doing a great job with him. He’s momentarily the top scorer in the league and I wish that he can finish like this the season. It’s important for him and for the team.”

OCB tried to put the game away just after taking the lead. A scramble in front in the 75th minute deflected high off the leg of Miskovic and nearly went in. A try on the other side of the net from a tight angle ended up going over the crossbar and out of play. In the 77th minute, Tablante did well to beat a man on the end line, bringing the ball into the area. He picked out Rivera near the top of the box but the Homegrown Player’s shot went high over the net. Loyola then forced a Miskovic save in the 78th minute.

From that point on, OCB just tried to survive, facing a series of set pieces. Chicago wasn’t able to do much with them, but did fashion a shot off a short corner in the 83rd minute. Noeh Hernandez curled in a left-footed shot that skipped in front of Otero. The OCB goalkeeper spilled it but regathered before a Fire II player could arrive.

Hernandez had a second chance in stoppage time after a foul was called on Solis. The free kick was from just outside the box on the right side. Hernandez curled a shot just over the bar in the 93rd minute. That was the last look for either side and OCB held on for the win.

OCB finished with the advantage in possession (58.8%-41.2%), shots (18-12), shots on target (11-5), corners (9-5), and passing accuracy (85.2%-75.3%). Despite such a lopsided statistical advantage, the Young Lions had to white knuckle it through the final minutes to preserve their lead.

The win momentarily lifts OCB to fourth in the Eastern Conference and second in the Central Division.

“I thought we played really well,” Lynn said. “We created a lot of chances, scored a few goals from them, and got punished twice in behind, which is something that we knew they were good at and we knew they were going to look for. But ultimately, I think we were able to put a lot of our chances away and win the game, so that was good.”

“We want to achieve a game that we can keep solid a clean sheet but we are not achieving that. That’s the truth,” Perelman said. “But despite that, the players are doing a good job. They are pushing. They never give up. At the end of the day they win and they turned around a result one more time here at home. We want to level up the players in a winning environment, with a good identity and I believe we are doing that job and I’m happy for our club.”

The Young Lions will be back in action Monday, July 31, when they visit New York Red Bulls II at 7 p.m.

Orlando City B

Orlando City B vs. Columbus Crew 2: Final Score 4-3 as OCB Loses First Road Game of 2024

OCB conceded twice in two minutes in the late stages, falling to Columbus Crew 2.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B

Orlando City B (3-3-3, 13 points) lost its first away game of the season this afternoon, falling 4-3 to Columbus Crew 2 (4-3-2, 15 points) at Field. Wilfredo Rivera and Shak Mohammed were the OCB goal scorers, while the third was an own goal by Ty Nero. Jayden Da, Chase Adams, and Gibran Rayo scored for the hosts, with the fourth being an own goal by Imanol Almaguer.

OCB Head Coach Manuel Goldberg only made one change to the team that earned a 3-1 win over New York Red Bulls II last Wednesday night. Yutaro Tsukada was out of the team after joining the first team on a short-term contract. His spot in the starting lineup went to fellow first-team attacker Favian Loyola.

The back line for the Young Lions in front of goalkeeper Carlos Mercado was Manuel Cocca, Thomas Williams, Nabi Kibunguchy, and Alex Freeman. Almaguer and Colin Guske were the defensive midfielders behind Jhon Solis, Mohammed, and Loyola with Rivera starting up top.

This will be considered three points lost for OCB. The Young Lions took an early lead in both halves and, without three poor minutes, might’ve been able to return home with all three points. They dominated the chances throughout the game and led in every major statistical category at halftime and full time. However, their inability to hold onto the two leads is something that will haunt this team as it takes an extended break.

OCB was the early aggressor, creating an attack in the opening seconds through Rivera and Loyola. However, Loyola lost possession on the right. The Young Lions restarted their attack, resulting in the first shot of the game. Solis lifted the ball into the box and Rivera met it, attempting a volley to the far post. He didn’t hit it well and the ball rolled harmlessly wide of the target.

The Young Lions created their second attack in the third minute when Mohammed made a run down the end line and attempted to send the ball across the face of goal. Crew 2 goalkeeper Stanislav Lapkes did well to get down and knock it out of play with his foot. The first corner was looking for Kibunguchy at the far post, but Adams got to it first, heading the ball over the crossbar. Rivera’s second corner kick was aiming for back-post heads again, but it went all the way across the field and out of play, ending the attack.

Crew 2 had its first chance in the ninth minute when Giogrio De Libera was sent forward to the end line. The midfielder played the ball back for Jacob Greene, who was wide open near the penalty spot. The shot got behind Mercado, but Freeman was there to clear it off the line and over the crossbar. The ensuing corner kick was cleared out without much trouble.

In the 13th minute, Nero took Loyola down hard from behind near midfield, leading to the game’s first goal. The ensuing set piece was a give-and-go between Freeman and Loyola. Sent down the right, Freeman played a great ball in front of goal, where Rivera was making a run. It only took a soft touch from the forward to tap it behind Lapkes and in to give the Young Lions the 1-0 advantage.

OCB had another shot two minutes later, but this one was much less troublesome for the hosts. Solis gained possession well outside the box and tried to find space to create an opportunity. Unfortunately, he couldn’t find anything and shot from distance. The shot was right at Lapkes, creating no problems for the goalkeeper.

The hosts found their equalizer in the 18th minute from a set piece. It started when a mishit by Adams landed at the feet of Greene at the top of the box. The midfielder shot immediately and his attempt was heading inside the post, but Mercado dove to his left to tip it wide. The ensuing corner kick was cleared and ended up with Adrian Gonzalez on the far side. It was a great cross to the opposite post, where Da outjumped Williams and headed it past Mercado to even the game at 1-1.

Da nearly had a second goal in the 22nd minute when he found enough space to take a shot at goal. The attempt took a deflection, sending it into the outside of the net. The ensuing corner kick didn’t result in anything else, keeping the game tied.

Rivera had a chance for his second in the 25th minute when he was sent forward by Loyola. The forward had Greene on his hip, but had a step on the defender. He slowed up slightly to set up his shot, enabling Greene to stick his foot in and clear it out of play.

The ensuing short corner kick fell for a second inside the six-yard box, but it was eventually cleared by Da.

Crew 2 immediately went the other way and created a chance of its own. Owen Presthus was sent down the right and played a dangerous cross into the OCB box, where Da was making a run to the back post. Fortunately, Kibunguchy slid in at the last second to knock the ball away.

A minute later, the hosts took their first lead of the day. Kibunguchy played the ball back to Mercado, who had plenty of time to find a teammate. However, he inexplicably sent the ball directly to Adams. The Crew 2 forward was calm with possession, slipping the ball past a flat-footed Mercado and giving his team a 2-1 lead.

OCB equalized in the 34th minute with a goal that was similar to the first. Freeman was sent down the right with a long ball. He had Rivera making a run into the box, but sent it to the top of the 18 instead. Mohammed was making a trailing run and did well with it, putting his first touch on target. It was close to Lapkes, but the Crew 2 goalkeeper couldn’t get to it and OCB evened the game at 2-2.

The Young Lions probably should’ve had a third in the 37th minute when Loyola made a run to the end line and sent the ball back for Rivera near the penalty spot. The forward attempted to set up for a shot, but the ball got caught in his feet. As a result, Crew 2 was able to clear.

OCB nearly took the lead in the 41st minute with a long ball down field. Rivera was attempting to run onto it, but it was too far in front of him. Fortunately, Freeman was also making a run and the right back connected with it. His shot appeared to be on target, but Lapkes came off his line and deflected the shot over the crossbar.

Two minutes into first-half stoppage time, Rivera had a chance when he was sent forward by Solis. His first touch was a shot from a tight angle, but hit the outside of the post. The forward came back from an offside position to meet the ball and the referee determined he was too late, ruling him offside.

The Young Lions had one final chance in the first half with the last touch . They were looking for a shot from just outside of the box, but Mohammed’s last touch was cleared out. However, it was a soft clearance right to Almaguer. The OCB captain fired from distance and missed just wide of the near post, resulting in the game entering halftime at 2-2.

After 45 minutes, OCB had more shots (10-5), shots on target (5-4), corner kicks (4-3), and crosses (6-2), and better passing accuracy (88.4%-85.2%). Despite creating more chances than the opposition, the Young Lions only scored twice and went to the break tied.

Crew 2 created the first chance of the second half and it was from a familiar source. Greene entered the OCB box with Freeman on his hip, but got past the right back to shoot from a tight angle. Mercado did well to cover his near post and blocked the shot, enabling Kibunguchy to clear the ball away.

OCB had its first second-half chance in the 50th minute when Loyola lifted the ball behind the Crew 2 defense where Rivera was making a run. The forward raced for the ball, attempting to beat Lapkes to it, but the Crew 2 goalkeeper got to it first.

However, in the 51st minute, OCB took its second lead of the game. Solis sent Almaguer forward and the OCB captain sent a cross into the six-yard box. The pass was behind Freeman, but Nero accidentally knocked the ball into his own net, giving the visitors a 3-2 lead.

Crew 2 quickly went the other way and created a chance off the restart. It was a strong attempt from outside of the box that appeared to be heading inside the near post, but Mercado dove to his right and tipped it wide. The ensuing corner kick was cleared by the Young Lions and they maintained their one-goal lead.

In the 57th minute, Presthus received the ball on the right and sent a dangerous low ball into the box. Williams got to it before anyone else, sending it over the crossbar for a Crew 2 corner kick. The ensuing set piece ended up with Diego Almeida outside of the box. The defender took a long distance shot, but sent it well over the target.

The Young Lions had a good chance in the 61st minute when Cocca found Mohammed making a run behind the back line. He reached the pass before he got to the end line and sent it to Freeman making a trailing run to the top of the six-yard box. The right back’s first touch was a shot with the inside of his foot, but Lapkes was there to make the stop.

OCB looked to strike on the counter attack in the 66th minute when Solis won the ball from Almeida near midfield. Solis sent Mohammed forward and the attacker attempted a shot from a tight angle, but Lapkes blocked it out of play with his leg. The ensuing corner kick by Rivera found the head of Williams, who got over the ball, but his attempt was off the crossbar.

A minute later, Rivera received the ball in the Crew 2 box. The forward dribbled across the face of goal, looking for space for a shot, but was well defended. His eventual attempt was blocked out for a corner kick. The first set piece was met by the head of Williams, but it was deflected out of play. The second corner kick found Mohammed, and he dribbled toward the end line before Almeida cleared it behind the goal. The final attempt resulted in a cross by Solis that Kibunguchy attempted to volley to the far post, but the center back missed wide.

Goldberg made his first change of the game in the 70th minute, replacing Mohammed with Yeiler Valencia.

Crew 2 found another equalizer in the 74th minute. Receiving the ball down the left, Tristan Brown sent the ball in front of goal. Almaguer attempted to clear it, but sent it into his own net instead, evening the game at 3-3.

It didn’t take long for the hosts to strike again and take their second lead. Second-half substitute Rayo had the ball in a seemingly innocuous position, with several players between him and the goal. Dribbling inside, the attacker shot from distance. It appeared as though Mercado couldn’t see the shot as he was left flat-footed, watching the ball travel inside his near post to give Crew 2 a 4-3 lead.

In the 82nd minute, Solis played a good ball forward for Valencia with space. The second-half substitute had room shoot, but it was well off target. Immediately after the miss, Goldberg made two more changes. Justin Ellis and Majed Abdullah entered the game for Rivera and Guske.

The Young Lions had a great chance to equalize again in the 86th minute when Almaguer sent a free kick to the back post. Cocca was making a run and found himself wide open. The left back attempted to put the header on goal, but sent it wide.

Before Crew 2 could restart play, Goldberg made his final change of the game, replacing Almaguer with Zakaria Taifi.

Despite being down a goal, the Young Lions weren’t able to create any shots during the four minutes of added time, falling 4-3 to Crew 2.

At full time, OCB had more shots (19-11), shots on target (8-7), corners (9-6), and crosses (9-7), and better passing accuracy (88.1%-85.6%). While they led in all statistical categories, a couple of poor minutes resulted in two goals for the hosts, turning an away win into a loss.

While OCB has already lost twice at home, this is their first loss away from Central Florida. They’re now 2-1-3 on the road and fall to seventh in the MLS NEXT Pro’s Eastern Conference after being jumped by Crew 2.

The Young Lions now have an extended break as they don’t return to the field again until Sunday, May 26. They’ll welcome Huntsville City FC to Osceola County Stadium as they look to get back on the right track.

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Orlando City B

Orlando City B vs. New York Red Bulls II: Final Score 3-1 as OCB Claims First Home Win of 2024

OCB uses two early goals to beat New York Red Bulls II.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B / Mark Thor

Orlando City B (3-2-3, 13 points) won its first home game of the 2024 MLS NEXT Pro season, 3-1 tonight over New York Red Bulls II (4-2-3, 17 points) at Osceola County Stadium. Shak Mohammed and Yutaro Tsukada both scored inside the first six minutes to give the Young Lions an early 2-0 lead, and Tsukada scored his second in the 34th minute. A second-half penalty by Ibrahim Kasule got one back for the visitors, but they couldn’t find any more.

OCB Head Coach Manuel Goldberg made two changes to the team that drew Chattanooga FC 1-1 away on Saturday. Carlos Mercado replaced Javier Otero in goal, while Alex Freeman returned to the starting lineup, sending Zakaria Taifi to the bench. The back line in front of Mercado was Manuel Cocca, Thomas Williams, Nabi Kibunguchy, and Freeman. Imanol Almaguer and Colin Guske were the defensive midfielders behind Wilfredo Rivera, Jhon Solis, and Tsukada. Mohammed started up top for the fifth consecutive game.

The Young Lions started the game as the aggressors, jumping on their opponents and taking an early two-goal lead. Mercado didn’t have much to do in goal during the first 45 minutes and only faced a couple of dangerous situations in the second half. Both teams had some bad giveaways that could’ve been devastating, but neither were able to take advantage. While New York threatened to score a second late, the Young Lions were never in danger of losing the lead.

OCB got off to the best possible start by striking just over 90 seconds after kickoff. It started with Tsukada in his own half, making a long run that included a give-and-go with Rivera. Tsukada fired from the top of the box, but hit the left post. The ball bounced right to Mohammed, who controlled it and shot with his second touch. New York goalkeeper Aidan Stokes got a hand to it, but it wasn’t enough as the striker gave the hosts the early 1-0 lead. It was his second straight match with a goal.

“Especially the first 10 minutes, we conceded the early goal the last few games,” Tsukada said about the quick start. “So we’ve been talking about the first 10 minutes to be more aggressive to get the first goal.”

It didn’t take OCB long to double its advantage, doing so in the sixth minute. Guske sent a long ball from his own half that found Tsukada at the top of the New York box. Dylan Sullivan was on the rookie, but gave up defending when he saw Stokes near the top of the box. Tsukada dribbled around the goalkeeper, making it an easy finish and giving the Young Lions a commanding 2-0 lead inside 10 minutes.

“I was trying to get in behind because I haven’t been scoring the last five games. So I was trying to score,” Tsukada said about his goal. “And then getting behind was important for me.”

The visitors had their first opportunity in the eighth minute when Omar Valencia sent a cross into the OCB box. It was headed out by Cocca, but only to Steven Sserwadda outside of the box. The midfielder sent the bouncing ball towards goal, but missed wide of the target.

New York had a second attempt in the 10th minute when Guske won the ball from Rafael Mosquera, but immediately lost possession. Frank Ssebufu quickly shot for the far post but missed wide.

In the 16th minute, Mohammed nearly scored his second of the night when Rivera forced Juan Gutierrez into a turnover by pressing him. The ball bounced right to Mohammed who only had Stokes in front of the goal. However, the striker slipped while attempting to shoot, sending the ball into the outside of the net.

Red Bulls II almost had a chance in the 21st minute when a poor tackle attempt by Kibunguchy enabled Mohammed Sofo to enter the box. Fortunately, Kibunguchy recovered well, catching up to the attacker and clearing the ball out of play. It took four consecutive corner kicks, but the final one went all the way through the box, enabling the Young Lions to clear the danger.

On the other end, OCB should’ve had a third goal when Solis dribbled to the end line and found Tsukada in the middle of the box. However, the midfielder took too many touches, enabling the New York defense to recover and win possession. Making matters worse, Tsukada had Mohammed open but couldn’t find him.

The Young Lions got their third goal in the 34th minute from a set piece. It started when Tsukada made a long run down the left and was pushed over by Bento Estrela, earning him a yellow card. Tsukada took the free kick, which deflected off a defender, catching Stokes going the wrong way and giving OCB a 3-0 lead.

Tsukada’s second of the night was an important goal, coming after a number of defensive third turnovers threatened to allow New York back into the match.

The Young Lions then created another set piece near the New York box in the 39th minute when Rivera cut back and won a foul from Gutierrez. Cocca and Tsukada stood over the ball with Cocca taking the set piece. However, his free kick was well over the target and never caused any concern for Stokes.

In the 43rd minute, Omar Valencia sent a cross towards the back post that met the head of Ssebufu, jumping over Williams. The header was over the crossbar, but New York won the goal kick back with its press and created another chance for Ssebufu. The midfielder’s second shot was further off target, missing wide.

In the final minute of first-half injury time, Sullivan’s ball into the box was cleared out by Kibugnuchy but only to Mosquera. The forward used some nifty footwork to cut back and lose Guske before getting off a shot. However, Williams got his body in the way and blocked the attempt, enabling the Young Lions to take a 3-0 lead into halftime.

After 45 minutes, New York had more shots (8-7), corners (5-2), and crosses (6-2) than the hosts, but OCB had more shots on target (3-2) and better passing accuracy (89.8%-85.7%). Most importantly, all of OCB’s shots on frame went in as the Young Lions took a three-goal lead into the break.

Goldberg made two changes at halftime, one defensive and one offensive. Abdi Salim replaced Williams at center back and Justin Elliis replaced Rivera in the attack.

Red Bulls II created the first chance of the second half in the 51st minute when Kasule drew a foul just outside of the OCB box. Three attackers stood over the ball, but it was Sofo who took the set piece. However, he sent it directly into the wall, enabling OCB to clear.

The visitors found their first goal of the night in the 55th minute when Sofo dribbled across the box. Guske charged in with an ill-advised challenge from behind, taking down the attacker. Referee Russell Miller immediately pointed to the spot, awarding New York a penalty.

Kasule stepped up to take the penalty, doing so with confidence. As Mercado dove to his right, Kasule put the spot kick into the opposite top corner. It was an excellent penalty that Mercado couldn’t have reached even if he had guessed correctly. As a result, the OCB lead was cut to 3-1.

In the 63rd minute, Tsukada attempted to take on a double team consisting of Sullivan and Sserwadda after receiving a long ball by Cocca. Sullivan defended the midfielder well, winning the ball and tapping it to Sserwadda. However, Cocca quickly won it back and took a shot towards the far post. There was no way Stokes was going to reach the attempt, but the shot missed just wide.

The Young Lions felt they should’ve had a penalty in the 65th minute when Tsukada received a long ball forward from Guske. He played it inside for the oncoming Mohammed, who slipped while attempting to send his first touch inside the far post. The ball bounced off of Gutierrez and the OCB players thought it was a hand ball, but Miller determined otherwise.

Sofo attempted an ambitious shot in the 69th minute that would’ve been the goal of the season. It started when Sserwadda chipped the ball into the box for Kasule. The New York goal scorer found Sofo in the middle and the attacker turned and volleyed the ball. However, he wasn’t able to get over it, sending the attempt over the target.

Tsukada made an excellent run into the New York box in the 71st minute and nearly scored a fantastic goal. He had one man to beat, but Aidan O’Connor stood tall and made the stop as the last defender. Almaguer took control of the clearance and found Tsukada, again defended by O’Connor. The midfielder went down and OCB felt a penalty should have been called, but Miller only told Tsukada to get up.

Shortly after the play, Goldberg made his third change of the game as Favian Loyola replaced Solis.

New York nearly cut the deficit to one in the 74th minute when quick passing saw Tanner Rosborough with the ball on the right. The second-half substitute sent a low cross that went just past the sliding Salim and found Sofo right in front of goal. Mercado hadn’t been challenged much in this game, but stood his ground and blocked the shot.

OCB’s fourth substitution came in the 77th minute during the second-half hydration break, with Diego Pareja entering the game for Guske.

In the 80th minute, a mistake in the OCB box nearly resulted in a second goal for New York. It began with an innocuous free kick by Cocca back to Mercado. The goalkeeper sent a short pass forward to Almaguer, but the OCB captain couldn’t control it. Rosborough got to the ball first and played it over for Sofo, who took a shot. Fortunately, Mercado was there to make the stop.

An 81st-minute free kick in OCB’s own half nearly ended in a fourth goal when Almaguer played it forward for Freeman and the defender sent Loyola down the right. The substitute made a perfect pass between two defenders to Mohammed, sending the forward into the box. Mohammed attempted to guide the ball inside the far post with his first touch, but missed wide.

Freeman had a chance in the 84th minute when Loyola, after a give-and-go with Mohammed, played the ball into the middle of the field for Ellis. Rather than taking it himself, Ellis laid it off for Freeman making an overlapping run. The right back attempted a shot from a tight angle, but missed wide of the far post.

On the field for less than 10 minutes, Pareja went down in the 85th minute and required attention. Instead of going down a man while trying to keep the lead, per MLS NEXT Pro rules for lengthy injuries, Goldberg made his final substitution, replacing Pareja with Taifi.

Red Bulls II had a great chance at a second in the 88th minute when a ball across the box was just missed by Kasule and ended up with Juan Mina. The substitute sent the ball back across, which Mercado blocked with his leg. However, it only went to Rosborough right in front of goal. He tried to turn and put a shot inside the post, but missed wide.

The fourth official showed seven minutes of stoppage time and New York continued its attack. In the third minute, Sserwadda found Curtis Ofori at the top of the OCB box. The first touch by Ofori was a shot towards goal that sailed just over the crossbar. That was the last chance for the visitors as the Young Lions held on for the 3-1 win.

New York created more chances than OCB, ending the game with more shots (19-12) and shots on target (5-4). The Red Bulls also had more corners (6-4) and crosses (15-7). Meanwhile, the Young Lions had better passing accuracy (88.4%-85.5%).

The game was won on two early goals, a reversal from what OCB has been dealing with this season. The Young Lions have conceded inside the first 11 minutes in four of their first seven games and inside the first 10 minutes in their last two. Rather than being put on the back foot early, they put the opposition in that position tonight, something Goldberg was happy about.

“It was good to hit the first punch today. So finally we were able to overcome that,” Goldberg said about scoring early. “We were getting scored on in the first minutes, now we were able to reverse that. So that’s a really good point. It feels really good, mainly for them, because they had the attitude that we’ve been talking about. They did it by themselves. It was them. They are the protagonists. They are the ones responsible for the things. For the good things. So, very happy for that.”

The win is OCB’s first at home this season (1-2-0). That includes the game against Inter Miami II at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, which was officially a home game. The three goals equals the most the Young Lions have scored in a game this season, with the other being their 3-2 win away to Atlanta United 2 on March 16 in the season opener.

OCB is off this weekend before hitting the road with another weekday matchup. This one will be an afternoon affair at Columbus Crew 2 Wednesday, May 15 at noon.

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Orlando City B

Orlando City B vs. Toronto FC II: Final Score 2-1 as OCB Drops First True Home Game of 2024

Toronto FC II scored two goals off rebounds as OCB drops its first game at Osceola County Stadium this season.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B / Mark Thor

Orlando City B (2-2-2, 9 points) fell 2-1 to Toronto FC II (2-2-1, 7 points) in the Young Lions’ first game at Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee this season. While Wilfredo Rivera netted OCB’s lone goal of the game, Toronto scored twice when Charlie Sharp and Jesus Batiz reacted quicker than the Young Lions defense, putting in rebounds.

OCB Head Coach Manuel Goldberg made one change to the team that beat Crown Legacy FC 2-0 away on April 19, as Nabi Kibunguchy returned to the starting lineup in place of Abdi Salim. The back four in front of Javier Otero were Manuel Cocca, Thomas Williams, Kibunguchy, and Alex Freeman. Imanol Alamguer and Colin Guske made up the defensive midfield behind Yutaro Tsukada, Jhon Solis, and Rivera with Shak Mohammed up top.

The home side was the better team throughout much of the game, but its inability to get shots on frame had a major impact on the result. The Young Lions missed the target on all five first-half chances and only put two on target in the second half. The other significant impact on the game was the team’s late reactions to rebounds after Otero saves. Both Toronto goals came from blocked shots where defensive players were caught flat-footed, enabling the visitors to score.

The first chance of the game for the Young Lions came in the sixth minute when Almaguer chipped the ball over the Toronto defense for Tsukada running behind. The rookie got his foot to the ball with a soft shot towards goal, but Antony Curic got in front and blocked the attempt.

The visitors took the lead in the ninth minute. Sharp cut inside to enter the box before dropping the ball back to Markus Cimermancic, who shot on goal. Otero did well to get down and block the attempt, but Sharp reacted quicker than Guske, getting to it first. The forward touched the rebound into the far corner to give Toronto a 1-0 lead.

In the 15th minute, Cocca sent a cross into the Toronto box from the left. It got through multiple players before Freeman and Batiz slid in trying to win the ball. They collided at the top of the six, enabling Toronto goalkeeper Adisa De Rosario to jump on it.

Rivera took OCB’s second shot in the 17th minute after receiving the ball from Freeman. The attacker attempted an ambitious and ill-advised shot from long distance with Batiz right in front of him. The Toronto midfielder blocked the attempt with ease and ended the threat.

Toronto had another opportunity in the 28th minute when Guske went down from a challenge by Sharp while receiving a pass from Kibunguchy. The ball rolled to Charlie Stanland, who sent it forward for Sharp. Looking for his second goal of the game, Sharp took a long-distance shot past Williams that forced Otero to make a diving block.

The Young Lions were given a good opportunity in the 31st minute when Stanland went up and over Tsukada for a high bouncing ball. Referee Brad Jensen blew for a foul, giving OCB a free kick about 30 yards out and directly in front of goal. Tsukada and Rivera stood over the ball, with Tsukada taking the set piece. It was a dipping shot, but it went just over the crossbar.

In the 37th minute, Solis found Almaguer near the penalty spot. Facing the sideline, Almaguer turned in an attempt to get over the ball and send it on goal. Unfortunately, he was unable to put it on target, sending the shot well over the target.

Cocca’s cross in the 41st minute was blocked out of play by Curic, giving OCB the first corner kick of the game. The ensuing set piece by Cocca was to the near post, where Freeman beat Ythallo and got a soft touch towards goal. It was behind De Rosario, but Adam Pearlman was there to clear it away.

At halftime, OCB had the advantage in shots (5-4), corners (1-0), crosses (5-1), and passing accuracy (87.3%-79.4%). But while Toronto was able to put three attempts on target, OCB didn’t have any on frame, and the visitors scored the lone goal in the first 45 minutes.

OCB came out of halftime flying, in search of an equalizer. In the 48th minute, Tsukada found Rivera to his right. The attacker shot on goal, but it was deflected into the arms of De Rosario. Seconds later, Cocca sent a dangerous cross into the box, looking for Tsukada. It was a little behind the midfielder and he couldn’t control it, enabling Toronto to clear.

In the 49th minute, Tsukada was the one to send a hard cross across the face of goal. However, nobody in purple was making a run into the six-yard box and it was cleared away.

The Young Lions finally converted in the 50th minute, a goal that was well deserved. Cocca’s ball into the box was headed away by Batiz, but only to Rivera nearby. The former first-team Homegrown Player controlled the ball with his thigh before volleying it past De Rosario to even the game at 1-1.

“I don’t know. I just saw it coming out, took a touch with my thigh, and tried to put it in the back of the net,” Rivera said about his goal. “And it worked.”

“I think he’s having a really great personality,” Goldberg said about the goal scorer. “He’s becoming really strong for us and we are happy for him.”

Toronto had its first sustained attack of the half in the 58th minute, when Ythallo’s shot headed towards the far post. Otero did well to dive to his left, tipping the ball out of play for a corner kick.

While the first two set pieces were headed out by Mohammed and Cocca, the third one stayed in play. The ball was headed in and out of the box before Mark Fisher volleyed it towards goal. However, the shot was wide, enabling the Young Lions to end the threat.

Goldberg made his first substitution of the game in the 63rd minute and it was a like-for-like change as Tahir Reid-Brown came into the game for Cocca at left back.

OCB should’ve taken the lead in the 69th minute when Rivera took the ball away from Ythallo, Toronto’s last defender. Rivera dribbled in on De Rosario and shot towards the near post with his left foot, sending the attempt wide. The Toronto goalkeeper had his near post covered, so Rivera probably should’ve opened up and gone for the far post. Regardless, the game remained tied at 1-1.

Toronto went straight down field from the goal kick and created a chance. Batiz lifted the ball across the box to Fisher on the far side. The attacker headed the ball back across goal, but nobody in white could get on the end of it. He had time to control the ball and shoot, but OCB was able to clear instead.

OCB made two more changes in the 77th minute and, again, they were like-for-like changes. Forwards Rivera and Mohammed were replaced by Justin Ellis and Favian Loyola.

One of the two most recent substitutes got involved quickly as Ellis found Tsukada just outside of the box. The midfielder turned and shot on goal, but De Rosario was there to collect it.

In the 83rd minute, Williams fouled Fisher outside of the box, giving Toronto a free kick. Julian Altobelli and Batiz stood over the free kick as OCB set up a two-man wall. Batiz’s shot was blocked by Solis but went right back to him. His second shot was towards the near post, but rolled just wide.

Goldberg made another change in the 87th minute. Tsukada, who was dangerous for much of the game on the left side, was replaced by Yeiler Valencia, who made his OCB debut.

While OCB had been the better team throughout the second half, it was Toronto that found the late goal. In the 89th minute, Andrei Dumtru found Altobelli inside the box. The midfielder cut inside to beat Williams and attempted a curling shot towards the far post. Otero made a diving save, knocking it wide. However, in a play eerily similar to Toronto’s first goal, Batiz beat Freeman to the loose ball and put it into the roof of the net, giving the visitors a 2-1 lead.

Immediately after the goal, Goldberg made his final substitution of the game, replacing Guske with Diego Pareja.

Five minutes into stoppage time, Toronto had a good chance to put the game away through Altobelli on the left. Otero did well to get down and block the first shot, but the ball circulated around and ended up back with Altobelli. He shot a second time towards the far post, but Otero made another good stop to keep it a one-goal game.

OCB quickly sent the ball the other away, looking to create a final chance as the clock ticked past six minutes of stoppage time. But a late foul was the final action and the final whistle secured the Young Lions’ 2-1 loss.

At full time, Toronto had more shots (15-9), shots on target (7-2), and corner kicks (5-1). OCB had the edge in crosses (8-6) and passing accuracy (87.1%-82.2%), but the team’s struggles finishing and poor reaction time to Otero saves cost the Young Lions dearly.

“Unfortunately, we got surprised with an early goal, which is something that we are trying to avoid. So that’s really something to work on, to act more than what we react,” Goldberg said about the game. “But after that, the group reacted really well. That makes us very happy. Of course, we are not comfortable with the result, but there’s still a long way to go for us.”

“I thought we came out pretty slow. Obviously, they got the goal in the first couple minutes, but I think we bounced back pretty well,” Rivera added. “Obviously it was a tough result. Obviously our first game at home as well, so it was a bad one for us.”

OCB remains on a four-game unbeaten run away from home, but is now 0-2-0 in the state of Florida. While the first of those two games was at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, it was considered the team’s first home game of the season.

The Young Lions will head back out on the road, which has been a friendlier environment for them, as they face Chattanooga FC Saturday evening.

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