MELBOURNE, FL -- Despite being a man up for over 50 minutes, Orlando City B fell to league-leading Louisville City FC at Titan Soccer Complex, 4-3. The Lions went up 2-1 early in the second half but two goals in a three-minute span gave the visitors a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
Louisville City had the majority of the possession early and capitalized in the 12th minute. Quickly playing the ball out of the back and through the midfield, the visitors found Kyle Smith down the right side of the field. He quickly centered the ball for a waiting Chandler Hoffman, who touched the ball past Mark Ridgers for an early lead on the road.
Just five minutes later, Louisville City nearly doubled its lead. A poor ball across the field by Lewis Neal, aiming for Conor Donovan, was easily picked off by Hoffman, who darted down field with his sights on goal. But center back Devron Garcia made a last-second tackle, pushing the ball out of play for a corner but saving a potential goal.
Louisville City had two more good chances through Aodhan Quinn and Hoffman before OCB finally struck. After Mikey Ambrose attempted to play the ball forward, Louisville defender Sean Reynolds misplayed the ball to the feet of Pierre Da Silva. A quick touch by the teenage midfielder sprung Hadji Barry toward the end line. Barry's low cross found Harrison Heath near the penalty spot and the midfielder put his first touch into the net for the equalizer.
The game seemed to take a turn in favor of the home side in the 39th minute when former Lion George Davis IV made a rash challenge on Neal after losing the ball. The challenge saw Davis receive his second yellow and subsequently his marching orders. Neither team gained an advantage in the final 11 minutes of the opening period and the teams went to the break tied 1-1.
OCB capitalized on its man advantage in the 50th minute when Ambrose used his first touch on the left touchline to send Da Silva toward goal. Da Silva quickly reached the ball and centered it to Barry, who, after a misplay by the defender, slid it past Louisville goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh giving the home team the 2-1 lead.
Up a man and a goal, it looked like smooth sailing for OCB to collect all three points. But that changed in the 62nd minute. Andrew Lubhan received a ball through the midfield and quickly played it across to Ben Newnam who scored the equailizer for Louisville.
Then, just two minutes later, the visitors struck again. Paolo Delpiccolo played a beautiful ball into the box, finding Lubhan, whose glancing header gave Louisville its second lead of the game at 3-2.
Four minutes later, Louisville put the game out of reach. After Aodhan Quinn laid the ball off for Cameron Lancaster, the substitute was fouled by Garcia. The ensuing free kick saw Quinn use his left foot to place the ball into the upper right corner, out of the reach of Ridgers for a fourth goal to the visitors.
"Cheap goals to give away," Lions midfielder Harrison Heath said of the three goals following the game. "Three balls in the box and we haven't defended them well at all. And then obviously it's a silly foul on the edge of the box and we know Quinny's got a great left foot and he's dangerous. He put it in the top corner."
OCB did get back within one in injury time through a goal by Michael Cox but it was too little, too late for the Lions as they fell 4-3.
Lions Head Coach Anthony Pulis was not pleased with his team's performance after the game. "It's unacceptable to lose a game of football when you're 2-1 up against 10 men and in complete control," he said. "The disappointing part was when we had 11 men, I don't think we moved the ball or retained the ball as well as what we can do."
Pulis also wasn't too pleased with how his team responded after giving up those goals in quick succession. "It took us a little too long to get going," he continued. "And after 4-2 and 30 minutes left, then another goal for us gives us the momentum. Their heads were down a little bit and I think it took us too long to react after that fourth goal that they scored."
Heath said their response showed the youth of the team. "Very naive," he said. "I think it shows youth. In those situations you have to show experience. You have to grind out the game. You have to do what you have to do to win. I think it showed a bit of youth."
The loss broke a three-game unbeaten streak by the Lions and leaves OCB on 14 points out of their first 12 games. It keeps the team ninth in the Eastern Conference and second among reserve teams. Louisville, meanwhile, stays atop the conference with 27 points, three more than New York Red Bulls II. OCB will take the field again next Saturday night when it travels to South Carolina to take on the Charleston Battery.
Starting XI: Ridgers; Turner, Garcia, Donovan, Ambrose; Laryea (Mendoza, 64'), Heath (Cox, 68'), Neal, Rocha, Da Silva; Barry
Unused Subs: Fenlason, Hayden, McFadden, Obekop, Ribeiro
Goals: ORL - Heath (29'), Barry (50'), Cox (90') LOU - Hoffman (12'), Newnam (62'), Lubhan (64'), Quinn (68')
Yellow Cards: ORL - Turner (37'), Laryea (57'), Mendoza (85') LOU - Davis (14, 39'), Smith (79')
Red Cards: LOU - Davis (39')