Despite being down multiple starters, Orlando City B was able to pull out a point against the Rochester Rhinos with a 0-0 road draw. The point brings the Lions even with Richmond and Wilmington for seventh in the USL's Eastern Conference on 23 points each.
Orlando City B came into tonight's game minus several starters as some were called into senior team duty Friday night against the Houston Dynamo. Hadji Barry, Conor Donovan, and Devron Garcia all were on the Lions bench Friday night, while Harrison Heath started. The absence of key players forced lesser used players such as Craig Nitti and Kyle McFadden to join the starting lineup.
The first half was one to forget for the Lions. The Rhinos dominated the first 45 minutes, largely due to the play of left back Marcos Ugarte going forward. While the Rhinos had attempt after attempt at Mark Ridgers, Rochester goalkeeper Adam Grinwis had very little to do in the first half.
The Rhinos should have taken the lead in the 36th minute. After Kenardo Forbes played the ball down the left sideline for Ugarte, the speedster darted into the box and centered the ball to the top of the six. Two Rhinos were able to get off shots from point-blank range but both were blocked by OCB defenders and the Lions dodged a bullet.
The Rhinos nearly broke the deadlock again in the 45th minute when Ugarte played the ball across for striker Christian Volesky, but the header went just over the bar for a Lions goal kick.
The only real chance for OCB came just before halftime, when striker Michael Cox made a nice run into the box and laid the ball off for Johnny Mendoza. However, the midfielder's shot went well high and wide of Grinwis' goal and was no real danger.
The first 10 minutes of the second half was the opposite of the first, with the Lions having the majority of the chances. The OCB attack was led by Cox, who began making strong runs into the box. However, he was unable to find any oncoming teammates to cause Grinwis much trouble.
The turning point of the game looked to be in the 55th minute, when Ugarte went down with an apparent left ankle injury. The player that had caused the Lions so much trouble in the first half needed to be carted off and was immediately replaced. It looked like OCB had the home team right where they wanted them. But that turned out not to be the case.
The Rhinos looked like a different team after Ugarte's departure. The game became much more even in terms of chances, with both teams pressing for the opening goal. Despite good chances for both teams, neither was able to take the lead.
The hero for the Lions defensively was McFadden. In the 66th minute, Ryan James sent a low cross into the box which was touched back by Volesky for Sofiane Tergou. Tergou immediately fired a shot toward the OCB goal but McFadden jumped in front of the shot, blocking it with his right thigh. In the 73rd minute, the defender saved his team again. Defender Wal Fall sent a long ball forward for Asani Samuels, who brought the ball down nicely, setting up for a shot. But McFadden was able to slide in and beat Samuels to the ball, clearing it out of play.
Despite a fast and furious second half, neither team was able to break through and the game ended in a 0-0 draw. The Lions will now head to Charleston for a Wednesday night showdown with the Battery before returning home on July 24 to take on the Wilmington Hammerheads.
Starting XI: Ridgers; Hayden (Turner, 46'), Nitti, McFadden, Ambrose; Ribeiro, Rocha, Mendoza, Neal (c), Da Silva (Obekop, 85'), Cox
Unused Subs: Fenlason, Laryea, Matarazzo, Smith, A. Garcia
Yellow Cards: ORL - Mendoza (24'), Da Silva (62') ROC - Fall (31')