If the young Lions of Orlando City's USL reserve squad can keep their streak of dramatic, stoppage time winners going, they'll deserve some kind of team-specific nickname. Cardiac Cubs maybe?
Orlando City B (8-6-7, 31 points) will find itself in a similar position to where it was a couple of weeks ago tonight when it takes on the second place New York Red Bulls II (13-3-5, 44 points) at 7 p.m. ET in Harrison, N.J. from Red Bull Arena. Two weeks ago OCB took on first place Louisville City on the road and came away with all three points after two stoppage-time goals propelled the team to a 2-1 lead, which is a result the young Lions would love to duplicate tonight. Momentum should be behind the boys in purple, as that win in Louisville was the first of two straight dramatic 2-1 victories. The other came last week at home against Toronto FC II, when leading scorer Michael Cox scored late in stoppage time to reclaim the victory that looked lost just a minute earlier after TFCII had scored.
The Red Bulls have been in a fight for first place with Louisville City all year. With two games in hand and just two points behind first place Louisville, the Baby Bulls might just be favored to finish the USL regular season as champions and head into the playoffs as the first seed, but that has been easier said than done. With Louisville losing two straight recently, opportunity struck for New York to grab first place but they couldn't seize the chance, losing two straight games themselves. However, New York has since rallied to pound the Harrisburg City Islanders 5-0 last week, and now look poised to claim the top position in the league following Louisville's draw at home on Wednesday night.
The Bulls hold quite the impressive résumé. Currently their goal differential is the highest in the league at +22, which is made up of the third-highest scoring attack and the stingiest defense in all of the USL. Leading scorer Brandon Allen sits seventh in the scoring race with nine goals, and their goal keeper Ryan Meara -- who you might remember from his MLS days -- has registered 44 saves.
Last Week's Lineups
OCB: Ridgers; Turner, Redding, Donovan, Hayden; Laryea, D. Garcia, Higuita, Neal; Smith, Cox
NYRBII: Rafael Diaz, Justin Bilyeu, Tim Schmoll, Zach Carroll, Mason Deeds, Speedy Williams, Dan Metzger, Florian Valot, Junior Flemmings, Brandon Allen, Anatole Abang
Keys to Victory
- Will the Drama Continue?: Those die-hard OCB fans (you know who you are) might still be basking in the glow of two straight dramatic victories, but can the young Lions continue to pull games out after adversity strikes? Whether OCB plays another close game tonight will be a tall task, but if they are within a goal heading into the closing minutes you can't count this team out.
- Staying Unbeaten: Those two victories have now extended OCB's unbeaten run to nine games, which has surged them up five points clear of their closest competition for the last playoff spot. A win or draw on the road here would be huge in that effort, especially considering the competition. This team is certainly capable of a positive result, though, as they drew 2-2 with the Red Bulls in their last meeting in Melbourne.
- The Title Race: It may not be the way that OCB had wanted to be affecting the title race coming into the season, but tonight's game will have some serious implications on both the regular season championship and playoff picture. Can OCB get a win on the road to help out their purple clad cousins in Kentucky? Or will the Red Bulls assert their dominance in the league?