MELBOURNE, FL -- Orlando City B rallied in the second half to defeat the Charlotte Independence 2-1 at Titan Soccer Complex. Despite missing several players who were called into the depleted senior team, the reserve side put in a strong performance to take away all three points for the second straight game, behind goals by Pierre Da Silva and Craig Nitti.
From the first minute, the visitors brought aggression and OCB responded with some physical play of its own. Nearly 20 minutes in and referee Rosendo Mendoza had nearly lost control of the match. Between the 15th and 20th minute, three yellow cards were issued for dangerous tackles.
When the physciality settled, Charlotte was the first to strike. In the 33rd minute, Patrick Slogic received the ball on an overlap with striker Brian Brown on the left side of the field for the Independence. Looking up, he quickly spotted Brown and played him through past the OCB defense. On his second touch, Brown slid the ball past OCB goalkeeper Jake Fenlason giving the visitors a 1-0 lead. Fenlason started in place of Mark Ridgers, who was in the U.K. for a wedding -- his own.
Following the goal, OCB pushed hard for the equalizer and nearly found it five minutes later. Left back Mikey Ambrose played a beautiful ball forward, leading Tony Rocha into the box. With Charlotte goalkeeper John Berner bearing down on him, Rocha quickly pushed the ball across the top of the six with his first touch for the waiting Michael Cox. But Cox's first-touch shot slammed off the crossbar and OCB's best chance of the first half went wanting.
OCB finally got on the board in the 53rd minute. After picking the ball off of Rocha, teenage midfielder Pierre Da Silva found Richie Laryea for a one-two near the top of the box. As Berner came out, Da Silva put the ball past him and into the bottom right corner for the equalizing goal.
The home team came out strong throughout the second half and, following the equalizer, pushed for the go-ahead goal. After some near misses by Rocha and Tyler Turner, the reserve side was finally able to strike in the 71st minute. Independence defender Henry Kalunge went through Laryea, earning OCB a free kick from about 35 yards out. Da Silva's ensuing set piece found the head of Craig Nitti, who guided the ball into the Charlotte net for a 2-1 OCB lead.
The final 19 minutes was an onslaught by Charlotte as the Independence desperately tried to find the equalizing goal. But Fenlason was up to the task. When the final whistle blew, OCB had held off the late attack and won 2-1.
"The response in the second half was outstanding," OCB Head Coach Anthony Pulis said following the win. "We played some good stuff and defensively we were solid again."
The win moves the young Lions into eighth in the USL's Eastern Conference and second among the five reserve teams in the conference. They'll take the field again next Sunday night when they host Lousiville City FC, the former affiliate of senior team Orlando City.
Starting XI: Fenlason; Turner, Ambrose, McFadden, Nitti; Ribeiro, Rocha, Laryea (Mendoza, 74'), Neal (c), Da Silva (Obekop, 77'), Cox
Unused Subs: Lewis, Hayden, Matarazzo, Rochez, Smith
Goals: ORL - Da Silva (53'), Nitti (71') CHA - Brown (33')
Yellow Cards: ORL - Turner (18') CHA - Johnson (16'), Slogic (20'), Kalunge (70')