MELBOURNE, FL -- A late goal by Pierre Da Silva salvaged a point for Orlando City B Sunday night against New York Red Bulls II in a 2-2 draw at Titan Soccer Complex. After the Lions took the lead on an early goal by Devron Garcia, the Red Bulls finished the half with two quick strikes. But Da Silva's late finish ensured that OCB would get something from the game.
New York had much of the early possession, causing trouble for the OCB defense. The Red Bulls went after Zach Hayden early on, who was taking the place of the suspended Tyler Turner. However, OCB soon changed the momentum of the game.
In the 16th minute, a Mikey Ambrose cross found the head of striker Michael Cox, whose shot was deflected wide of goal, earning the Lions a corner. Keeping possession after the ensuing corner kick, goalkeeper Ryan Meara fumbled the ball after colliding with a defender, giving Devron Garcia the opportunity to put away the game's first goal.
Following the goal, which was OCB's first real attacking possession, the Lions began to play with much more confidence going forward. After the half hour mark, momentum began to turn again with New York acquiring the majority of possession. The attacking Red Bulls set up two quick opportunities by Stefano Bonomo.
In the 38th minute, New York finally got their equalizer off of a corner. After the ball fell between Garcia and Michael Cox, Tim Schmoll stepped between the two and poked home the equalizing goal for the Red Bulls.
Just three minutes later, the visitors struck again. The cross after a short corner reached the far side of the box, where a waiting Aaron Long volleyed home the goal ahead goal.
The Red Bulls nearly scored a third, potentially putting the game out of reach in the 54th minute. A cross by New York bounced off the back of the head of OCB left back Mikey Ambrose, falling to Junior Flemmings. The Red Bulls midfielder immediately shot on goal but the ball ricocheted off the post, keeping the OCB deficit at one.
With time winding down, OCB tried desperately to find an equalizer but attempts were futile. In the 85th minute, OCB Head Coach Anthony Pulis turned to Orlando City Designated Player Bryan Rochez, who had been out of the squad for much of the season due to "several reason I won't go into," according to Pulis.
Just two minutes after coming on, Rochez made his impact felt. After receiving the ball from Da Silva, he played the ball back for the midfielder, who had continued his run. Da Silva slid the ball past Meara, drawing the Lions even at 2-2.
"To be honest, I wasn't going for Pierre. I was going for Coxy," Rochez said following the game. "But thank God the ball went in."
It was a big point for the young Lions team against a Red Bulls squad that remains in second in the Eastern Conference. "We're pleased with the point," Pulis said following the game. "Especially after going down 2-1."
As for the confidence the team takes from this point, Pulis said, "a lot of these guys don't know how good they are."
The draw keeps OCB in eighth place on 18 points out of 14 games for the final playoff position. The Lions take the field again next Sunday afternoon when they face off with FC Montreal in Canada.
Starting XI: Ridgers; Hayden, Ambrose, Garcia, Donovan; Laryea (Rochez, 85'), Ribeiro (Obekop, 58'), Rocha, Neal (c), Da Silva; Cox
Unused Subs: Fenlason, McFadden, Matarazzo, Mendoza, Smith
Goals: ORL - Garcia (17'), Da Silva (87') NY - Schmoll (38'), Long (41')
Yellow Cards: ORL - Ambrose (47') NY - Williams (28'), Plewa (69'), Metzger (80')