Well, if you’re gonna go down it might as well be in flames, and if you’re gonna go down in flames they might as well be flames fueled by a certain energy drink that is (or isn’t?) flammable.
The young Lions of Orlando City B (8-7-7, 31 points) practically doused themselves in Red Bull (or kerosene, what’s the difference really?) and dropped a match on their heads in their 5-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls II on Friday night. In a very off night, Conor Donovan opened the scoring with an own-goal and later was sent off with a red card that came after video review, a first in professional soccer history, all within the first 36 minutes.
To add more
fuel Red Bull to the fire, the young Lions later gave up a penalty, and saw another red card given when Kyle Callahan-McFadden was shown two yellows, the first of which also came as the result of a video replay. All in all, the league-leading Baby Bulls shredded OCB to end its unbeaten streak at nine games.
All was not lost, however, as OCB retained its playoff position despite the lopsided loss, and will look to pad its five-point lead over Bethlehem Steel FC for the eighth and final playoff spot tonight against the Charlotte Independence (10-6-6, 36 points). The road game will kick off from the Ramblewood Soccer Complex in Charlotte, NC, at 7 p.m.
Tonight marks the third meeting between the two squads, as Charlotte had twice traveled to Melbourne, losing 2-1 in the first meeting, while managing a 1-1 tie in the second. The Independence are currently in fifth place in the USL Eastern Conference, 10 points behind co-leaders Louisville City and New York. The Colorado Rapids’ USL affiliate is led on the field by Enzo Martinez and Caleb Calvert, who have paced the fourth highest scoring attack in the Eastern Conference with six goals apiece, while Martinez also leads the team in assists with four.
Charlotte last played on Saturday night, beating the Wilmington Hammerheads 1-0 at home. The Independence are currently on a five-game unbeaten run, which includes three wins and two ties.
Last Week’s Lineups
OCB: Ridgers; Turner, McFadden*, Donovan*, Matarazzo; Laryea, Heath, Neal, Da Silva, Smith, Cox
Charlotte: Berner; Slogic, Kalungi, Duckett, Johnson; Hilton, Martinez, Davidson; Estrada, Calvert, Brown
*Suspended tonight due to red cards
Keys to Victory
- O Canada: If it weren’t for Cyle Larin, Michael Cox might well be the most exciting Canadian wearing purple these days. The 24-year-old Calgary native scored again last week in the loss at New York to up his team-leading total to nine goals in 2016. Cox has been among the brightest of spots for OCB, and continuing to develop his game beyond his strong finishing ability is key for OCB going forward.
- Seeing Red?: The old bullfighting cliche about showing a bull the color red stood up on Friday night. Coach Anthony Pulis and his players may as well have been dressed as matadors because the opposing Red Bulls charged into the OCB net five times on a night that the referee angered the Bulls by showing the color red twice. Tonight’s opponents aren’t bulls, but if the young Lions see red again the result may well be the same — a skewering.
- Road Woes: OCB’s inaugural USL schedule was backlogged with road games. Including Friday night’s loss in Harrison, NJ, OCB plays seven of its final nine games on the road, including a four-game road trip to close out the year. If Friday night’s game was any indication, the young Lions might be in for a rough ending to their first season of existence. Luckily for them, they have had some success on the road so far this year to the tune of a 4-3-2 record away from the Titan Soccer Complex.
How to Watch
As usual, you can catch the game on the official USL YouTube page or at orlandocitysc.com/live. Be sure to tune in at 7 p.m. tonight. You can also follow along on our TML Twitter feed and we’ll have a full recap after the match.