Orlando City B had to play a man down for most of the game Sunday night against FC Montreal, but the young Lions secured all three points in their first ever home win, despite the 19th minute red card shown to Devron Garcia. A ninth-minute Michael Cox header was the difference, though another strong performance from goalkeeper Mark Ridgers helped to preserve the shutout behind five saves.
Now, with two wins under its belt, Orlando City B (2-4-1, 7 points) takes on FC Cincinnati (3-2-1, 10 points) tonight at 7:30 on the campus of Eastern Florida State College, looking to make it three wins in four games for the first year reserve side. The visitors from Porkopolis will be looking to secure three road points that could bring them within one point of first-place Louisville City in the Eastern Conference standings.
Like OCB, FC Cincinnati is also in its first year of existence. The team is making headlines for the great number of fans coming through the turnstiles at Nippert Stadium on the campus of the University of Cincinnati, having set the USL record for attendance in only its second home game against Louisville City, with 20,497 fans taking in the 3-2 loss. John Harkes, of U.S. National Team and ESPN analyst fame, is in his first year as head coach, and has his team tied for fourth place in the USL's Eastern Conference.
Cincy is led on the field and captained by former MLS Rookie of the Year Austin Berry, who you might remember from his stellar rookie season with the Chicago Fire in 2012. Berry is tied with two other players for the team lead with two goals apiece. Cincinnati is tied for fourth in the entire USL in goals scored, with nine, but also has also let in eight goals on the other side of the pitch. Cincinnati is coming off of a 1-1 tie with the Wilmington Hammerheads at home last week and is 2-1 in its three road contests so far this season, including two road victories in a row.
Last Week's Lineups
OCB: Mark Ridgers, Tyler Turner, Conor Donovan, Devron Garcia*, Mikey Ambrose, Richie Laryea, Harrison Heath, Tony Rocha, Lewis Neal, Bryan Rochez, Michael Cox
FC Cincinnati: Mitch Hildebrandt, Tyler Polak, Harrison Delbridge, Ross Tomaselli, Kenney Walker, Paul Nicholson, Sean Okoli, Pat McMahon, Corben Bone, Jimmy McLaughlin, Andrew Wiedman
*Garcia will miss tonight's match due to his red card from Sunday
Keys to Victory
- Can Ridgers Stay on the Mark?: If you would classify OCB in the early season as a disappointment (as I know some of you are), you couldn't possibly be disappointed in the performance of goalkeeper Mark Ridgers. The 25-year-old Scotsman has been stellar thus far in 2016, and is second in the league with 26 saves. The argument could be made that OCB's defensive effort shouldn't allow that many shots to reach its keeper, but it's comforting to know that the man between the posts will be giving a strong effort each and every night.
- Second half scoring: Much like the senior team, Orlando City B has trouble closing out games. OCB has been outscored 6-2 in the second half of matches this season, which is a troubling statistic. Can the young Lions learn to finish a game strong? On the other side, Cincinnati has outscored its opponents 5-3 in the second half so far this season. Over the course of the last three games, Cincy holds a 4-0 second half advantage, which includes a two-goal comeback victory in its last road game at Toronto, which saw the team score twice in the final 45 minutes to overcome a one-goal halftime deficit.
- Who should we defend?: Cincinnati has a very balanced scoring attack, having seen five different players find the back of the net so far in this young season -- including three players with multiple goals -- while Corben Bone is tied for second in the league in assists. Needless to say, FC Cincinnati boasts a diverse scoring attack, which means OCB's defensive ability will be key in securing a positive result.