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.



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.


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