Orlando City B

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

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



Image courtesy of Orlando City B / Mark Thor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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