MELBOURNE, FL -- It was another wet and stormy night in Melbourne as 10-man Orlando City B fell to FC Cincinnati 3-1 late Wednesday at Titan Soccer Complex following a lengthy delay. Storms hung around Melbourne all day Wednesday and the skies opened up shortly before the game was scheduled to kick off. The result was a two hour and 20 minute delay, followed by another red card ruining an OCB match -- something we've seen often this year.
Bryan Rochez put the Lions on the board first with a penalty kick but the visitors scored three times, including their own penalty after goalkeeper Mark Ridgers was sent off for denial of a goal scoring opportunity, following a bad pass by right back Tyler Turner.
With a light mist falling on the field, the two teams began slowly as they attempted to get into the game and to get a feel for how well the soaked field would play. The first real chance of the game came in the 21st minute when a turnover in midfield resulted in a counter for Cincinnati. Andrew Wiedeman, who was a thorn in the side of the OCB defense all night, got off a shot, forcing Ridgers into a nice save.
As the first half continued, the skies opened up and rain began pounding down on the players. At the end of the first 45 minutes, there was no score and little to speak of.
OCB had a strong start to the second half, which resulted in the opening goal just seven minutes in. A nice ball down the right side by Tyler Turner sent Hadji Barry to the end line. After megging FC Cincinnati defender Harrison Delbridge, Barry took on Tyler Polak, who was forced to take down the young striker in the box for an OCB penalty. Bryan Rochez stepped up and slid the ball into the right corner, giving the Lions a 1-0 lead.
However, that lead didn't last long, as FC Cincinnati equalized just five minutes later with a stunning strike by Kenny Walker. After receiving the ball from a short set piece -- set up by a Turner foul -- Walker took one dribble to his right and unleashed a rocket that beat Ridgers to his right.
The biggest moment in the game occurred in the 76th minute. A horrible errant pass from Turner sprung Sean Okoli who was free on goal, forcing Ridgers off his line. The Scottish goalkeeper came out but Okoli touched the ball past him, resulting in the forward being taken down and a penalty given. Additionally, Ridgers was sent off and OCB was once again down to 10 men.
With Jake Fenlason replacing the dismissed Ridgers in net, Okoli stepped up and put home the shot just above the diving Fenlason's right hand, giving the visitors a 2-1 lead.
OCB nearly equalized in the 76th minute when Turner, attempting to make up for his earlier mistake, played a nice ball across the box. It arrived for a waiting Johnny Mendoza, who fired a shot that rattled the crossbar. It was the closest the Lions would get to an equalizer.
With just second remaining, FC Cincinnati took a free kick from about 45 yards out. After a layoff, Eric Stevenson found himself with a clear shot on goal, which he put past Fenlason to seal the win for the visitors. The goal was the final kick of the game and made the final score 3-1 in favor of FC Cincinnati.
"I said to the guys at halftime, the only way we're going to concede a goal tonight is from us making a mistake," OCB Head Coach Anthony Pulis said following the game. "Unfortunately, if you defend the way we defended in the second half, you're going to lose games of football. Individual errors have costs us dear tonight."
The loss moves OCB to 2-5-1 on the season for seven points in the Lions' first eight games. They'll take the field again Saturday night when they host the Bethlehem Steel. Ridgers will miss the match with the red card suspension, meaning Earl Edwards Jr. could get a spot start for the reserve side.
Starting XI: Ridgers, Turner, McFadden, Nitti, Ambrose, Laryea (Mendoza, 74'), Ribeiro (Cox, 81'), Rocha, Obekop, Rochez (Fenlason, 76'), Barry
Unused Subs: Neal, Da Silva, A. Garcia, Smith
Goals: ORL - Rochez (53') CIN - Walker (57'), Okoli (79'), Stevenson (90')
Yellow Cards: ORL - Obekop (44'), Ambrose (89'), CIN - Delbridge (72')
Red Cards: ORL - Ridgers (76')