Orlando City B (10-9-3, 34 points) nearly came back from a three-goal deficit and a man disadvantage but fell 5-4 to New England Revolution II (11-5-6, 43 points) at Osceola County Stadium. Rodrigo Schlegel, Jhon Solis, Favian Loyola, and Nabi Kibunguchy were the goal scorers for OCB, and Peyton Miller, Jack Panayotou, Jordan Adebayo-Smith, Joshua Bolma, and an Abdi Salim own goal were the five conversions for New England.
OCB Head Coach Martin Perelman made five changes to the team that drew 1-1 against Inter Miami II in Fort Lauderdale Saturday night. First-team regulars Mason Stajduhar, Felipe, and Schlegel joined the lineup, along with Cristian Medina and Alex Freeman. They replaced Javier Otero, Kibunguchy, Zakaria Taifi, Wilfredo Rivera, and Franco Perez — all of whom started the game on the bench.
The back line in front of goalkeeper Stajduhar for this one was Moises Tablante, Salim, Schlegel, and Freeman. Solis, Medina, Felipe, and Imanol Almaguer were in the midfield with Jack Lynn and Shak Mohammed once again making up the striking partnership.
Despite the result, OCB dominated most of the game. The Young Lions were clearly the better team through the first 45 minutes, but fell a man down when Solis was sent off just before halftime. While the visitors took advantage of the extra man, the Young Lions didn’t give up. Perelman made some inspired second-half substitutions, which got the team back to within one goal. Unfortunately, OCB couldn’t find the final equalizer.
OCB got the first good chance of the game off of a turnover in the back by New England. A Freeman foul on Colby Quinones gave the visitors a free kick. Pierre Cayet played it short for Jake Rozhansky, but the midfielder’s heavy touch allowed Lynn to play the ball forward for Felipe. The first-team midfielder was in on goal, but goalkeeper Jacob Jackson got down to block the shot. The ensuing corner kick by Martins found the head of Salim just beyond the back post, but he sent it over the target.
In the 11th minute, Schlegel got his foot to a near-post corner kick by Martins. The ball bounced dangerously across the top of the six-yard box, but nobody could get on the end of it and the ball went harmlessly beyond the far post.
Two minutes later, OCB took a deserved lead. A short corner kick was swung around for Almaguer at the top of the box. The midfielder lifted the ball into into a group of players and Schlegel was the first to it. Payet was on the center back, but slipped, giving Schlegel a free header on goal. The Argentine didn’t miss the opportunity, heading it down and past Jackson to make it 1-0.
The Young Lions dominated the possession and chances, but a mistake in the back allowed the visitors to equalize with their first chance of the game. It started near midfield when Lynn’s heavy touch from a Schlegel pass allowed Rozhansky to take over. Miller made a long run on the far side of the field with neither Salim nor Medina picking him up. Rozhansky played a long ball across, where Miller did well to control it and put it past Stajduhar for the equalizer.
OCB nearly got the lead right back in the 27th minute when Tablante was given plenty of space and sent an excellent ball into the six-yard box. Lynn got behind the Revs II defense, getting his right foot on it in an attempt to redirect the ball into the opposite corner. He did well to volley it towards the opposite post, but the attempt was just wide.
New England took the lead shortly after the first-half hydration break. In the 35th minute, Freeman left Miller alone on the left side of the field and Panayotou played it across for him. Miller’s second touch was a low ball across the box where Adebayo-Smith was making a run. Salim got to the ball first, but his deflection was past Stajduhar for an own goal.
OCB evened the game back up in the 44th minute. Solis played the ball wide for Freeman, whose first touch was a pass in to the six for the oncoming Mohammed. The forward couldn’t reach the pass and the ball bounced off the far post. It was a fortunate bounce for Solis, who continued his run into the box. Nobody was near him and the midfielder calmly passed it in to tie the game at 2-2.
It didn’t take long for New England to respond to the equalizer, retaking the lead two minutes into first-half stoppage time. Rozhansky sent Adebayo-Smith behind the OCB back line, which had stepped up in an attempt to trap him offside. Salim’s arm went up as he looked to the assistant referee, but the flag stayed down. Stajduhar blocked the initial shot, which popped up into the air. Panayotou beat Salim to the free ball, putting it in to give New England a 3-2 lead.
“Offside,” Perelman said about the goal after the game. “There have been a lot of mistakes from the referees. I don’t like to talk about them, but it’s tough. It’s tough, it’s tough.”
Things got worse two minutes into first-half stoppage time for the Young Lions. Lynn played the ball back for Solis with his back to goal, but Olger Escobar slid in to clear it away. Defender Tiago Suarez immediately began demonstrating to the referee that Solis stomped on Escobar while he was on the ground. Alyssa Nichols agreed, showing Solis a red card and putting OCB down to 10 men for the remainder of the game.
That was the last action of the half as the Young Lions went into the break down 3-2. It was a bizarre half as OCB dominated play. The Young Lions ended the first 45 minutes with more possession (56%-44%), shots (9-5), shots on target (4-3), corners (5-0), crosses (4-0), and passing accuracy (91.5%-84.9%). However, some mistakes defensively and a controversial goal by New England saw the Young Lions trailing at halftime.
New England extended its lead four minutes into the second half when Escobar lifted the ball to Bolma, who made a run between Schlegel and Salim. The midfielder’s first touch sent the ball over Stajduhar and was heading in. He would’ve had the goal, but Adebayo-Smith tapped it in just before it reached the line, giving New England a 4-2 advantage.
It got worse for OCB in the 52nd minute when the visitors were awarded a penalty. OCB players felt they had a great chance on goal when a cross in for Lynn resulted in a collision between the striker and Victor Souza. The ball landed at the feet of Felipe, but Nichols called the foul on Lynn.
New England quickly took the set piece forward, and Bolma was sent down the left. Schlegel was the last man back in the OCB box and gave a half-hearted attempt to knock the ball off Bolma as he cut inside. The midfielder went down and Nichols immediately pointed to the spot.
After drawing the penalty, Bolma stepped up to take the kick himself. He sent Stajduhar the wrong way, putting the ball into the right corner of the goal and giving Revolution II a commanding 5-2 lead.
In the 57th minute, Bolma attempted to score his second when he dribbled inside from the right past Schlegel and sent the ball towards the upper corner of the goal. The ball didn’t seem to miss the target by much, sailing just over the crossbar, but Stajduhar looked unconcerned about the shot.
Tablante attempted to get one back for OCB in the 61st minute when a weak clearance landed at his feet about 25 yards out. His shot from long distance took a deflection off of Panayotou, forcing Jackson to dive towards his left post, but the ball went wide.
Down three goals and a man, Perelman made four changes in the next few minutes. The first was a three-player change in the 65th minute, as Rivera, Kibunguchy, and Perez replaced Freeman, Tablante, and Salim. Two minutes later, Lynn came off for Loyola.
“(Perelman) just said, make an impact on the game anyway I can,” Kibunguchy said about the mentality entering the game down three goals and man. “The team needed some energy at the time and I just wanted to give that to keep us going, because the game is never over until the ref blows the whistle.”
It didn’t take long for the attacking substitutes to make an impact on the game, pulling a goal back in the 68th minute. Rivera sent a cross to the top of the six-yard box, where Loyola touched it with the top of his head, directing it into the far corner to cut the deficit to 5-3.
In the 74th minute, the Young Lions cut the New England lead to one. Cayet knocked a throw-in out for a corner kick that was taken by Felipe. The ball was sent into space, where Kibunguchy came charging in. The center back, known for his strong headers, got his left foot to the ball, sending a laser shot inside the far post to make it a 5-4 game.
“We practiced that play a lot during the week,” Kibunguchy said about his goal. “Martin sets us up good for corner kicks, so I had a block for me and I got free and just took my chance.And that’s what corners are about. Taking your chances and getting goals when you need them.”
The Young Lions felt they should’ve had a penalty in the 78th minute when defensive pressure forced substitute Patrick Leal into a turnover. It ended up with Felipe, who sent a long ball forward for Rivera behind the New England back line. Payet caught up with the attacker and there was contact as Rivera went down in the box. Rivera, the OCB bench, and the fans felt there should’ve been a penalty called, but there wasn’t much contact, and Nichols decided it was a fair challenge.
In the 82nd minute, Kibunguchy had a chance for a second goal when Souza conceded a corner kick. Felipe sent the ball into the mixer and Kibunguchy got his head to it. However, he wasn’t able to get it on target, sending it over the crossbar.
The Young Lions had a chance in the 87th minute when Almaguer found Rivera in the box. It looked like the young first-team forward had space for a shot, but couldn’t get around the ball, sending it wide. Perelman made his fifth and final substitution after the miss, bringing on Taifi for Almaguer.
The fourth official showed seven minutes of second-half injury time, a welcome sight for OCB as the team searched for an equalizer. However, it was New England that almost scored four minutes in. Malcolm Fry received the ball on the left with few defenders back and it looked like he’d take it to the corner. Loyola was back, but Fry dribbled inside to beat him and create a shot. Stajduahr did well to come off his line and close down on Fry, getting a piece of the shot to send it wide.
OCB had one final chance to equalize with the last attempt of the game eight minutes into second-half stoppage time. Italo fouled Mohammed just outside of the box and to the right of goal. Felipe took the set piece short to Rivera, who fired towards the far post. Jackson dove to his right as the ball skipped just wide of the post. That was the final touch as Nichols blew the final whistle and OCB fell at home to New England Revolution II.
At full time, OCB had more possession (55.9%-44.1%), shots (17-11), shots on target (7-6), corners (9-3), crosses (15-1), and passing accuracy (88.5%-84.6%). The only statistical advantage New England had was goals scored, but that was enough to take home all three points.
“It’s tough for me to analyze the game. From the tactical perspective, the first 20 minutes we did our job. Then, it’s true that we committed a mistake, two, and received two goals,” Perelman said about the performance. “But we keep going and controlling the game. And we tie the game 2-2. Then the second half, with one player less, they played good, but the team showed that nobody’s going to beat us easily.”
This was only OCB’s second home loss of the season. The Young Lions previously fell 3-0 to Philadelphia Union II on June 28. The loss keeps the Young Lions in fifth in the MLS NEXT Pro’s Eastern Conference, but they fall further behind the teams in front of them as the end of the regular season nears.
OCB will look to bounce back from this loss when the team heads back out on the road, taking on NYCFC II Sunday night.