If there was ever a game in which you could say defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory, last week was it.
After blowing a 2-1 lead in the second half, while up a man, against league-leading Louisville City, Orlando City B (4-6-2, 14 points) hopes to put the lessons learned from that 4-3 defeat to use tonight against the Charleston Battery (6-3-3, 21 points) at MUSC Health Stadium in Charleston at 5 p.m. The loss was "unacceptable" in the eyes of Head Coach Anthony Pulis, and was just the second loss OCB had taken over its six-game home stand.
Tonight's opponent, Charleston, has half the losses (3) on the year that does OCB (6), including a 2-0 loss at home two weeks ago to the same Louisville team that claimed victory at the Titan Soccer Complex last week. Prior to that loss, the Battery had won five in a row and will be entering tonight's match on the heels of a 2-1 road win over Pittsburgh, buoyed by first half goals from Taylor Mueller and O'Brian Woodbine.
Now in their 24th season, the Charleston Battery predate MLS and have had recent success. In 2015, the Battery finished in third place in the Eastern Conference -- which was good for a tie for fourth in the USL overall -- and managed a conference semifinal berth, in which they bowed out on the road at Louisville in extra time. This season, Charleston is led by by Romario Williams, whose six goals are tied for the fourth highest total in the league, five off the pace of league leader Jack McBean's 11.
These two teams met once already this season, in a 0-0 draw in Melbourne, which was the coming out party for goalkeeper Mark Ridgers. Having been affiliated with the Vancouver Whitecaps and Houston Dynamo in the last two seasons respectively, Charleston is now the affiliate of future MLS team Atlanta United. For the last 11 seasons, the Battery have been coached by Michael Anhaeuser.
Last Week's Lineups
OCB*: Mark Ridgers; Tyler Turner, Devron Garcia, Conor Donovan, MikeyAmbrose; Richie Laryea, Harrison Heath, Lewis Neal, Tony Rocha, Pierre Da Silva; Hadji Barry
Charleston: Alexander Tambakis; O'Brian Woodbine, Taylor Mueller, Forrest Lasso, Emmanuel Adjetey; Maikel Chang, Neveal Hackshaw, Atauallah Guerra, Zach Prince; RIcky Garbanzo, Heviel Cordoves
Keys to Victory
- A dose of confidence: Losing a game in the manner in which OCB did last week to Louisville has got to take some wind out of the team's sails. Being up a man and with a goal lead in the second half, you'd expect to close things out, but that's exactly the opposite of what the young Lions did. It's a big ask of Anthony Pulis to right the ship after a disastrous week, but you can bet that when he hasn't been reaming the team for its lack of killer instinct he has been trying to restore the team's confidence.
- Winning on the road is no easy task: Before their loss to Louisville two weeks ago, Charleston had rolled up a 29-game USL undefeated streak at home at the venue formerly known as Blackbaud Stadium. Needless to say, Charleston will be eager to start a new streak of similar nature tonight against OCB, and in only its fourth road game of the year, you'd have to wonder if the Orlando City reserve side has the wherewithal to stay the Battery's hand.
- Discipline: Take one look at the headlines from last week's loss to Louisville, and you can see a lack of defensive discipline in the team, but it's the specific ways in which that lack of discipline reared its head that are concerning. Bad fouls in dangerous places, losing track of runners, and giving the ball away is no way to win, and on the road against a team tied for third place in the Eastern Conference, OCB cannot afford such mistakes.