MELBOURNE, FL -- It was a wet and gloomy day at Titan Sports Complex, as Orlando City B fell 1-0 to Eastern Florida State College today in a preseason friendly just a week before the reserve team's season is scheduled to open.
The first half was played mostly on the EFSC half of the field, with the Lions creating several good opportunities. The Lions looked strong playing the ball through the midfield but struggled with the final ball to their big striker, William Eyang.
Mikey Ambrose and Homegrown midfielder Pierre da Silva were a part of much of the early attack on the left side of the field. The two worked well with Eyang and midfielder Richie Laryea and, as the first half went on, they became the focal point of the offense.
On the right side, Tyler Turner was back at his natural right back position after playing much of the Orlando City preseason in the midfield. Turner pushed forward to serve in several crosses during the first half but they were lacking in quality. In the middle, it was Laryea and Tony Rocha that created most of the attack. Rocha was responsible for both OCB shots in the first half, with one going well over the crossbar and the other being stopped on a diving save by the EFSC goalkeeper.
The inclement weather, which caused the start of the game to be delayed by 18 minutes, played havoc with the players. Despite a well touted drainage system at Titan Soccer Complex, the wet grass had players from both teams slipping on the field.
EFSC jumped out to a good start in the second half, creating a few chances on goal. In the 55th minute, midfielder J.J. Donnelly cut across the top of the box, looking for an opening to fire on goal. His shot squeezed just inside the right post and out of the reach of a diving Mark Ridgers for the game's only goal.
Following the goal, the Lions went on the attack, looking for the equalizer. They dominated possession in the second half and came very close on several chances. In the 71st minute, Eyang was replaced by first-team striker Bryan Rochez. The Honduran was able to get several attempts at goal but none went in as the Titans were able to hold on for a 1-0 win.
Despite the loss, Head Coach Anthony Pulis was pleased with his team's performance. "Nobody ever wants to lose but as I've just said to the players, you sometimes easily get sidetracked by results and it can cloud your thoughts and your emotions after a game," Pulis said. "But I thought our performance today was really good -- second half especially, we moved the ball really well. The pleasing thing from my point of view was the amount of chances we created. We must've created six or seven golden opportunities. OK, we didn't take them, but I'd be more worried standing here if we didn't create chances."
As for where the team is as it heads into the first USL game next Saturday night, Pulis says it's hard to say whether the club is ready. "I don't think you ever know until that first game," Pulis said following the defeat. "We've played a lot of college teams who've made life very difficult for us. They've been some good opposition, some real good tests, but until that first league game you never really know."
Orlando City B will now head back to the training field this week in preparation for the 2016 USL season opener next Saturday night against the Wilmington Hammerheads in Melbourne.