Orlando City B's season came to an end this afternoon as the young Lions fell to the top-seeded New York Red Bulls II, 4-0 at Red Bull Arena in the USL Eastern Conference quarterfinals. It was all New York from start to finish and, frankly, could've been much worse than the result shows.
From the first minutes of the game, Red Bulls II dominated possession, keeping the ball in OCB's side of the field. With Derrick Etienne on the left and Florian Valot on the right, New York created chance after chance. However, last-ditch defending by center back Kyle McFadden and goalkeeper Mark Ridgers kept the home side off the board. For a while, anyway.
OCB's luck ran out in the 32nd minute, when the Red Bulls finally converted. Vincent Bezecourt's corner fell at the feet of OCB striker Michael Cox, who had the opportunity to clear it, but he couldn't control the ball. It bounced past the Canadian and fell to Aaron Long, who touched it past Ridgers to give the home side the lead.
Despite being thoroughly outplayed in the first half, OCB only went into the break down a goal and even had a late chance of its own. In stoppage time of the first half, OCB won a corner, which was promptly cleared by New York. But it looked like the Lions may have had an opportunity in a game they should've been out of.
The optimism quickly faded when the whistle blew to start the second half as it was very much like the first half. The only difference was that New York didn't wait so long to capitalize on its opportunities. Ridgers made some diving stops in an attempt to keep OCB in the game but the home team was just too much.
The second goal for New York came in the 59th minute, when Valot found Bezecourt at the top of the box from the right side. Bezecourt wasted no time getting a shot off and curled it around Ridgers to double the lead.
Things got worse for OCB in the 62nd minute when the Lions went down a man. As Tyler Adams received the ball around midfield, Harrison Heath inexplicably dove in and took down the midfielder from behind. The rash and ill-advised challenge gave the referee no choice but to show Heath a red card and put the young Lions down to 10 men. It was reminiscent of the first trip to Red Bull Arena, when OCB finished with just nine men on the pitch earlier this season.
OCB actually had its best chance of the game shortly after that sending off. In the 65th minute, a Lewis Neal cross found the head of Cox, who headed it directly down and toward goal. But goalkeeper Ryan Meara was able to easily collect the ball, ending the threat.
Just two minutes later, New York put the game to bed. A poor ball toward the box came to Conor Donovan, who should've easily cleared it, but he immediately lost the ball to Brandon Allen. The Red Bulls II star drove into the box and finished past Ridgers. Any hope OCB had of a comeback was dashed with that third goal.
New York's final strike came in the 77th minute. A free kick from the top left corner of the box found the head of Long, who drove it past Ridgers for his second of the game and his team's fourth.
The loss brings an end to the inaugural USL season for OCB. It was an exciting season for the young Lions, which saw the debut of multiple academy players and even produced some unexpected signings by Orlando City's MLS side in Tony Rocha and Mikey Ambrose. Despite the loss, the 2016 season should be considered a success for OCB, as it showed the positive impact this team will have on the club going into the future.
Starting XI: Ridgers; Turner, McFadden, Donovan, Hayden; Heath, Ribeiro (Garcia, 55'), Neal (c), Da Silva (Barry, 46'), Obekop (Mendoza, 79'); Cox
Unused Subs: Fenlason, Nitti, Matarazzo, Laryea
Goals: NY - Long (32'), Bezecourt (59'), Allen (67'), Long (77')
Yellow Cards: ORL - Ribeiro (30'), Neal (45')
Red Cards: ORL - Heath (62')