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Orlando City B

Orlando City B vs. Carolina Core FC: Final Score 2-2 as OCB Draws Lowly Core and Claims Extra Point on Penalties

OCB came back from a poor start to draw Carolina Core FC and take two points at home.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City B/Mark Thor

Orlando City B (4-4-4, 18 points) returned to action tonight, drawing Carolina Core FC (1-6-3, 8 points) 2-2 at Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee. The Young Lions got off to a horrible start, conceding a penalty by Facundo Canete in the seventh minute and a Papa Ndoye goal 10 minutes later. But they dominated the second 45 minutes, with Alex Freeman converting a penalty in the 72nd minute and Imanol Almaguer equalizing in the 86th minute. They won the penalty shootout 6-5, claiming two points on the night.

OCB Head Coach Manuel Goldberg made two changes to the team that lost 3-1 to Inter Miami II Sunday evening. Yutaro Tsukada was on the bench for this one and Wilfredo Rivera wasn’t in the team. They were replaced by Yeiler Valencia and Justin Ellis. The back line in front of goalkeeper Javier Otero remained the same, featuring Manuel Cocca, Thomas Williams, Nabi Kibunguchy, and Freeman. Colin Guske and Almaguer were the defensive midfielders behind Jhon Solis, Shak Mohammed, and Valencia with Ellis as the lone striker.

Despite being one of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference, Carolina came out on the attack and put OCB on its heels. The hosts struggled to create anything offensively and didn’t even get a shot on target until the 35th minute. However, they played much better in the final 15 minutes of the first half and dominated the second 45 minutes. They were unlucky not to claim all three points and would’ve without a dreadful start to the game.

Carolina had the first attack inside the first minute when Jacob Evans played Joshua Rodriguez forward down the left. The attacker attempted a low cross into the box, but Williams was there to clear it out of play. The ensuing corner kick was towards the back post and met a Core head, but the attempt was over the crossbar.

The visitors felt as though they should’ve had a penalty in the third minute when Williams challenged Rodriguez as he entered the box. The Core attacker raised his arms, but referee Elvis Osmanovic didn’t agree.

The first chance for OCB came in the fourth minute when Valencia made a strong run along the end line and into the box. He was looking for a cross, but the ball was cleared out of play for a corner kick before he could get rid of it. The ensuing set piece by Almaguer found the head of Cocca, but the left back sent it wide of the far post.

It’s been a tough start to the season for Carolina Core, but the visitors took an unexpected lead in the seventh minute. Ndoye had the ball on the right and played it into the box for Rodriguez after Williams failed to follow his run. Otero came well off of his line, but Rodriguez got to the ball first. As a result, the OCB goalkeeper took down the attacker. Osmanovic immediately pointed to the spot and issued Otero a yellow card.

After Rodriguez was treated by the Carolina medical staff, Canete stepped up for the penalty. Otero dove to his right and Canete sent the ball the other way to give his team an early 1-0 lead.

Rodriguez continued to trouble the OCB back line in the 14th minute when he completed a nice turn to lose Kibunguchy. Dribbling towards goal, the attacker sent a low pass to the penalty spot. However, Williams was the only one there and cleared it away.

Carolina doubled its advantage in the 17th minute after Evans sent Canete down the left. Kibunguchy sprinted back to catch up with the midfielder, but Canete cut back as Kibunguchy slid past. The Argentinian played a perfect ball to the back post where Ndoye was making a run and the striker touched it in for a 2-0 Carolina lead.

The Young Lions had their second decent attack in the 20th minute when Evans fouled Guske on the Carolina side of the field. Almaguer sent the free kick into the box and Covi headed it out of play for a corner kick. The ensuing corner by Almaguer was to the top of the six-yard box where goalkeeper Alex Sutton, Cocca, and defender Christian Diaz collided. Carolina cleared but Diaz went down and required attention, resulting in a stoppage of play. In the meantime, Cocca and Covi began pushing before receiving a word from Osmanovic. No cards were given and play continued.

Mohammed looked to make something happen on his own in the 28th minute with a long run into the Carolina box. It looked as though he would get a strong shot off or set up a teammate in front of the goal, but sent a soft ball into the arms of Sutton instead.

In the 32nd minute, Solis tried to get OCB on the board with a run to the top of the box. He used a stepover to lose his defender and fired. Unfortunately, the shot was well high and wide of the target, ending the threat.

The first OCB shot on target came in the 35th minute when nobody stepped up to Valencia on the left. The midfielder decided to take a hard shot towards goal. It was a decent attempt, but was from a tough angle and distance, enabling Sutton to catch it.

OCB had another set piece attempt in the 40th minute when Solis out-muscled Derek Cuevas. The midfielder caught back up to Solis and pushed him down from behind in frustration, earning a yellow card for his trouble. Almaguer’s ensuing free kick met the head of Freeman, but the attempt was off target.

The Young Lions had another free kick in the Carolina third in the 43rd minute when Cocca made a strong run before being taken down by Canete. Almaguer sent the set piece towards the far post, but it was too strong and Sutton easily caught it.

In the third minute of first-half stoppage time, Freeman laid the ball off for Solis, who made a strong run into the box. The midfielder attempted a cross, but Sutton did well to get his foot to the ball, knocking it out of play. The ensuing corner kick was towards the back post, but nobody could get on the end of it.

The Young Lions had one last chance in the final seconds of the first half. Valencia made a run into the box from the left and sent a low cross to Freeman just outside of the six. The right back should’ve been able to redirect it on goal, but was leaning back and sent it over the target.

OCB had more shots (5-3) and corner kicks (3-2), and better passing accuracy (87.8%-81.2%) in the first half, but didn’t threaten Sutton, only putting one shot on target. Meanwhile, Carolina put two of its three shots on frame and scored twice to take a 2-0 lead at halftime.

The start of the second half was much better for the hosts, creating a chance inside the first minute. Receiving the ball from Mohammed, Cocca sent a curling cross towards the back post. The ball continued to drift as Sutton backpedaled. It looked as though it might actually get behind him and nestle inside the far top corner of the goal, but was just over the top.

The Young Lions had a second opportunity in the 49th minute when Cocca used some quick feet to beat Canete and was taken down, earning a free kick near the top of the Carolina box. The set piece by Cocca was off the wall and over the goal, but Osmanovic missed the deflection and gave the visitors a goal kick.

In the 51st minute, Cocca’s cross attempt was blocked out for a corner kick. The set piece was short, eventually ending at the feet of Almaguer. The OCB captain’s shot was between the legs of Canete, but right into the waiting arms of Sutton.

Valencia made a good run into the box in the 58th minute, beating Jathan Juarez, before Diaz knocked it out of play. Cocca got his head to the ensuing set piece, but the header was over the crossbar again.

The Young Lions created a pair of shots in the 61st minute as they continued to pressure the visitors. First, Mohammed turned Diaz and got a shot off, but sent it straight to Sutton. OCB quickly won back possession and set up a shot for Solis. Unfortunately, the midfielder’s curling attempt went just over the crossbar.

A long ball in the 62nd minute looking for Freeman was knocked out by Cuevas for an OCB corner kick. The ensuing set piece by Almaguer was volleyed by Williams just before it hit the ground. It was a good strike, but Sutton was up to the task, getting down to make the stop.

Three minutes later, Valencia took a shot from outside of the box. The midfielder touched the ball inside, setting up an attempt with his right foot. Canete got a slight deflection on it, enabling Sutton to collect it.

After not making any second-half substitutions against Miami, Goldberg made his first two against Carolina in the 67th minute. Zakaria Taifi and Majed Abdullah entered the game for Ellis and Valencia. While Abdullah for Valencia was a like-for-like change, Taifi came in at right back with Freeman moving forward into the midfield. Meanwhile, Mohammed shifted into the striker’s role with Ellis departing.

The constant attack by OCB paid off in the 72nd minute when a shot by Guske bounced off the arm of Evans. Osmanovic didn’t hesitate to point to the spot, giving the Young Lions a penalty. Freeman stepped up to take the spot kick, sending Sutton the wrong way and cutting the deficit in half.

The visitors spent most of the second half defending, but got a chance in the 74th minute through Canete. Receiving the ball on the right side of the box, nobody closed him down and the first-half goal scorer shot. However, it was right to Otero, who made an easy save.

OCB quickly went the other way and nearly equalized. Freeman made a long run into the Carolina box and shot, but it was blocked out for a corner kick. After the initial set piece was cleared away, Guske sent the ball to the top of the box. Kibunguchy headed the ball down and Williams got a touch to it, playing it forward for Freeman who was darting in from outside of the 18. Freeman stuck his foot out to send the ball towards goal, putting it just wide.

Carolina had a chance for a third in the 80th minute when Kibunguchy blocked Johnny Bazaes’ cross attempt for a corner kick. The ensuing set piece by Conete was over Otero and met the head of Kai Thomas. However, it was a little high for him too, resulting in his header going over the crossbar.

In the 83rd minute, Taifi made a long run out of the back, getting near the end line after a give-and-go with Freeman. He found Mohammed at the top of the box, but the forward didn’t get much on the ball. Fortunately, it went right to Abdullah near the back post. The substitute tried to backheel it in, but sent the attempt wide.

OCB finally found its equalizer in the 86th minute through its captain. Guske found Freeman just inside of the box and the defender-turned-midfielder quickly shot on goal. Sutton blocked the attempt, but the ball went straight to Almaguer. The midfielder didn’t waste any time, putting the ball in to even the game at 2-2.

“They really want to fight, right? We still need to fix some things to avoid suffering through some moments, but this made it clear that they wanted it and that’s really good,” Goldberg said about his team coming back from a two-goal deficit. “That’s really positive.”

“It tells that we don’t quit, man. We’re always determined to come out whatever the score is and just keep going and going and going,” Freeman said. “And it just tells that our team is full of spirit, good individuals that come and win any game we can.”

Carolina had a chance in the 89th minute when Bazaes sent a cross towards the back post. Cocca got to the ball first and tried to keep it in play, but the assistant determined it went over the line, giving Carolina a corner kick. The set piece by Canete found the head of Aryeh Miller on the far side, but his header was wide.

It appeared as though the Young Lions had found a winner two minutes into second-half stoppage time when Almaguer’s free kick went over the head of Sutton and was knocked in by Freeman. Osmanovic initially awarded a goal, but put his hand to his ear as he spoke with his assistant. It was eventually determined that Freeman handled the ball while controlling it, so a free kick was awarded to Carolina instead.

The Young Lions had one last chance seven minutes into second-half stoppage time when Almaguer sent a free kick into the box. Mohammed got the back of his head to it, sending it on goal, but Sutton blocked it out of play. The ensuing set piece was cleared and the final whistle blew.

OCB dominated the game statistically with the advantage in shots (25-7), shots on target (10-3), corner kicks (9-5), crosses (5-2), and passing accuracy (89.1%-80.4%). However, the poor start enabled Carolina to grab a point from the 90 minutes.

“It was a mixture of moments, right? We went through different ups and downs in the game. Started down, then going up,” Goldberg said about the performance. “But the good thing is that we showed good character. The points to improve are the early moments of the game in this case, right?”

“Obviously, the first half was a little slow for us. But I feel like throughout the second half we were able to get chances all game. And we were obviously able to just attack, attack, attack,” Freeman added. “Obviously, I feel like we got some wrong calls, but at the end of the day, we were still able to get the extra point in penalties. So I feel like our team overall did good to come back out.”

MLS NEXT Pro rules state that games tied after 90 minutes go to penalties to determine which team gets a second point. Before the shootout could start, Osmanovic issued a straight red card to Tsukada, who didn’t appear in the game, on the OCB bench. Per MLS NEXT Pro rules, Tsukada will miss the next meeting with Carolina on July 7.

The first three shooters scored before David Polanco stepped up. The Carolina substitute sent a poor penalty towards goal and Otero guessed right, blocking it away. Freeman had the next attempt, but Sutton was up to the task, making the stop with his left hand and keeping the visitors in the shootout.

Having already scored one penalty in the game, Canete stepped up to even it, but sent his attempt over the top of the goal. Once again, OCB had a chance to take a commanding advantage. This time it was Almaguer and he sent Sutton the wrong way, but his shot hit the crossbar.

The next eight penalty takers converted their kicks and Santiago Cambindo stepped up, looking to even it at 6-6 in the eighth round. However, the attempt wasn’t far enough towards the corner, enabling Otero to get his hand to the ball. As a result, OCB earned a second point from the game.

The two points puts OCB back in a playoff position, currently sitting in seventh. They’re tied with Columbus Crew 2 for sixth and one point behind NYCFC II for fifth.


The Young Lions will continue their three-game homestand Thursday night when they host Chattanooga FC at Osceola County Stadium.

Orlando City B

Orlando City B vs. Inter Miami II: Final Score 1-1 as OCB Draws Rivals and Claims a Second Point in Penalties

OCB responded from a 1-0 second-half deficit to draw Inter Miami II before taking an extra point in penalties.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City B / Mark Thor

Orlando City B (4-5-7, 23 points) ended its five-game homestand tonight with a 1-1 draw against Inter MiamI II (6-6-5, 23 points) at Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee. The visitors took the lead in the 70th minute through Shanyder Borgelin, but Wilfredo Rivera’s excellent strike in the 80th minute equalized for OCB. The Young Lions then won the penalty shootout 2-0 to claim the extra point.

OCB made three changes from the team that lost 2-1 to Carolina Core FC on July 7. Tahir Reid-Brown, Favian Loyola, and Jack Lynn entered the starting lineup, replacing Zakaria Taifi, Yeiler Valencia, and Rivera. The back line in front of goalkeeper Carlos Mercado were Reid-Brown, Thomas Williams, Nabi Kibunguchy, and Alex Freeman. Colin Guske and Imanol Almaguer were the defensive midfielders behind Jhon Solis, Shak Mohammed, and Loyola, with Lynn up top.

The first half had few chances for either team, with the notable moments being hard challenges and bookings. However, it opened up in the second half with end-to-end action. Inter Miami II had the better chances in the opening minutes, but the Young Lions worked their way into the game. It appeared as though the 70th-minute goal would see OCB lose for the second consecutive game, but an attacking substitution by OCB Head Coach Manuel Goldberg worked as Rivera scored the equalizer.

The Young Lions held the early possession, but it was Miami that created the first chance of the game. In the seventh minute, Borgelin’s cross was blocked out of play by Williams for a corner kick. The ensuing set piece was headed towards the near post, falling to the feet of Leo Afonso open in front of goal. It appeared to go off the forward’s knee and over the crossbar, enabling OCB to avoid conceding early.

The Young Lions got their first chance in the 10th minute when Miami cleared the ball out of play. Almaguer took the corner kick, playing it short to Solis. However, referee Laura Rodriguez saw too much pushing and shoving in the box, calling on Almaguer to take it again. The second one went to the near post, where it found the head of Lynn, but the striker redirected the ball over the target.

Afonso had another good chance to give the visitors an early lead in the 16th minute when a ball into the box was headed down by Borgelin near the top of the six. Afonso was the first one to it and put the ball on target, but Mercado did well to block it with his leg.

Solis used a fancy pass to create an opportunity for OCB in the 24th minute, sending Loyola down the end line from the left. The attacker found Lynn right in front of the goal, but the ball got caught in his feet. As a result, Lynn couldn’t get much on the shot, enabling Cole Jensen to make the stop.

Some sloppy possession by Inter Miami II in the 26th minute enabled Loyola to take possession in the final third. He used his quick feet to create some room and shot from just outside of the box. Unfortunately, the low attempt was directly to Jensen and the goalkeeper made an easy save.

In the 32nd minute, Reid-Brown sent a cross into the box looking for Lynn at the near post. The pass was deflected by Nykolas Sessock and landed on the top of the net. The ensuing corner kick by Almaguer found the head of Kibunguchy, and he appeared to give OCB the lead, but the center back was called for a foul while going for the ball.

At the end of 45 minutes, Inter Miami II had more shots (8-3), but OCB put more on target (2-1). Miami had more crosses (4-2), OCB had better passing accuracy (87.9%-86.6%), and both teams had three corner kicks. Despite the lack of goals, it was an eventful first half with six yellow cards being issued, including to both head coaches.

The most surprising thing about the first half was that it ended scoreless. It’s the first time an OCB game has been scoreless at the break since May 25, 2023 (34 games ago), also against Inter Miami II. In that game, Lynn scored the game’s lone goal in the 57th minute as the Young Lions won 1-0.

Miami came out of halftime the more attacking team, creating multiple opportunities in the opening minutes of the second half. Shortly after the restart, Reid-Brown was called for a foul and booked, giving the visitors a free kick about 35 yards from goal. Dairon Reyes took the set piece and went for goal, sending it off target.

In the 49th minute, Noah Allen sent a dangerous ball into the box looking for Borgelin. However, his cross was too close to Mercado, who was able to jump on it. Three minutes later, Noah was looking for Borgelin again. This time the forward chested it down, but lost control and it went out of play. It wouldn’t have counted had he scored because the flag went up for offside.

OCB’s first second-half chance came in the 54th minute. Almaguer received the ball outside of the box and no defenders closed him down, so the captain went for goal. It wasn’t a bad strike, but it curled wide of the target.

In the 59th minute, Mohammed carried the ball across the field before being tripped by David Ruiz, earning the Miami midfielder a yellow card. Almaguer took the free kick and went for goal, but sent the attempt over the top.

Immediately after the shot, OCB made its first two changes of the game. Rivera and Yutaro Tsukada entered for Lynn and Loyola.

Miami had a great chance to score the opening goal in the 65th minute when Ruiz headed a ball down just before it crossed the end line. It was a perfectly-placed ball for Afonso near the six-yard box, but the attacker whiffed as he attempted to shoot.

A minute later, Afonso received the ball at the top of the box and went for goal. The shot was through the legs of Borgelin, but Mercado did well to keep his eye on the ball, enabling him to make a one-handed save. It went straight to Sessock for an open shot on goal, but the defender missed wide.

In the 69th minute, Freeman did well to bring a long ball down in the box. He chipped it for Rivera near the top of the six and the forward got his head to it, but sent it just over the goal.

OCB had another great chance in the 70th minute when Allen’s poor clearance attempt went to Mohammed. Since his back was to the goal, the attacker tried to backheel it, but it was blocked. The ball went straight to Tsukada for an open shot, but the second-half substitute missed the target.

The visitors quickly went the other way and took the lead. Reyes sent Ryan Carmichael forward and the second-half substitute shot, but it was blocked by Williams. The rebound went right to Sunderland, whose shot was off the post. With Mercado down, Borgelin and Freeman raced for the ball. The Miami attacker got to it first, knocking it in to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.

The Young Lions went on the attack and nearly found an equalizer in the 75th minute. Freeman received the ball in the box on the right, chipping it in for Rivera making a run towards goal. The forward got his head to it, but sent the attempt just over the crossbar.

Shortly after the miss, OCB made two more changes. Justin Ellis and Jackson Platts came into the game for Mohammed and Reid-Brown. Ellis went into the forward position and Rivera moved into the midfield.

Rivera’s position further back proved to be beneficial in the 80th minute. Receiving the ball from Freeman, Guske played a pass forward for Rivera. The attacker took a touch inside to avoid Allen and found space for a shot before sending a rocket towards goal. Jensen got a hand to it, but the shot was too strong, evening the game at 1-1.

“I saw him (Guske) look at me and we made eye contact,” Rivera said about his goal. “And I looked behind me, and I had space and some time, and I got it, turned, took someone on, and then I tried to put it in the back of the net. It felt great because there were a lot of fans here, and it just felt great tying it up.”

OCB made its final substitution in the 82nd minute as Bernardo Goncalves came on for Guske.

The visitors had a good chance for a winner in the 84th minute when Freeman fouled Sunderland just outside the box, earning a yellow card for the challenge. Carmichael stepped up to take the set piece and went for goal, sending the attempt just over the crossbar.

The fourth official showed four minutes of stoppage time and it was OCB that appeared the most likely to find a winner. First, Rivera collected the ball at the top of the box and shot from near where he scored his goal. Unfortunately, his attempt was just over the top. Two minutes later, Tsukada shot from the top left corner of the box, but it was right to Jesnen.

Miami had a chance for a last-second winner when Alejandro Flores took a shot from outside the box in the fourth minute of stoppage time. Mercado got down to block it, but he only got it to the top of the six. Sunderland was charging in and it looked like he might get there, but Freeman was able to clear it first. Rodriguez blew the final whistle right after the clearance, ending the game at 1-1.

After 90 minutes, Inter Miami II had more shots (20-14), but OCB put more shots on target (5-4). While Miami had more crosses (9-6), OCB had more corner kicks (4-3) and better passing accuracy (87.5%-86.9%). The aggressive game ended with Miami committing more fouls (16-9) and OCB being booked more (8-6).

“It was a tight game. I think both teams did a good job,” Goldberg said about the performance. “The game was entertaining, there were chances for both sides, so pretty even match in general.”

“I thought we played pretty good. We gave everything we had,” Rivera added. “Obviously, they came out with the first goal and set us back a little bit, but I thought we were playing well and thankfully I was able to make a difference coming off the bench.”

Per MLS NEXT Pro rules, games that end in a draw result in both teams getting a point but go to penalties to see which team earns a second point. It was the seventh time OCB went to penalties after drawing this season.

The goalkeepers got off to a great start, saving nearly identical shots by Sunderland and Solis. Allen took the second attempt for Miami and it was beyond the reach of Mercado, but hit the post. After Freeman sent Jensen the wrong way to give OCB the lead, Mercado made his second stop, this time on Yuval Cohen. Jensen guessed correctly on Tsukada, but the midfielder slipped it underneath him. That meant Giovanni Ferraina had to convert, but the center back sent his attempt over the goal.

The poor shootout performance by Miami (0-4) meant OCB only had to be somewhat accurate to win the shootout. It’s not often that MLS NEXT Pro penalty shootouts end 2-0, but this one did, and the Young Lions took the extra point. They’re now 4-3 when going to penalties.

The draw keeps OCB in 10th place in MLS NEXT Pro’s Eastern Conference, but the extra point moves the Young Lions even on points with Inter Miami II for ninth. They’re still three points behind New York Red Bulls II and Crown Legacy FC for the final playoff spot but have a game in hand on Miami and New York.


OCB will return to action on July 21 as the team heads out on the road for the first time since June 13, facing New York Red Bulls II in New Jersey.

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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.

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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.

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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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