How do celebrate the best win of your season in Kentucky? If it were you or me, and our best win came at the betting window of the local horse racing track, I think a nice glass of bourbon would do. If you're a professional athlete and your team just beat the league leaders on the road, however, a happy trip home is more likely.
That is exactly how one would expect Orlando City B's return ride from the Bluegrass State back to Central Florida went after the young Lions upset then-league-leading Louisville City FC in dramatic, come-from-behind fashion. After conceding an early goal and surviving waves of pressure, Orlando City's USL reserve team came through in stoppage time behind a Tyler Turner penalty and a fortunate bounce off the foot of Keegan Smith just minutes later to steal the victory and stun the crowd on the road for what has to be the best win of the OCB era.
Tonight, OCB (7-6-7, 28 points) will hope that victory will be a turning point in the season and propel the Lions into a late season run into the playoffs as they return to the Titan Soccer Complex in Melbourne to take on Toronto FC II (6-12-5, 23 points).
The Canadian opposition has found its second season as a USL outfit a little easier than its first, but that's not saying much. TFCII has equaled its season point total from a 2015 in five fewer games so far in 2016, but still is sitting outside the playoff picture and is just four places from the bottom. On the field, the little Reds are led by 21-year-old Canadian forward Raheem Edwards, who has scored six goals this season in the USL while also making an appearance for the big club at the MLS level.
For Orlando City B, there was news this week regarding OCB regulars Tony Rocha and Mikey Ambrose, as the two were signed officially by the senior Lions in MLS. For tonight's game, however, Ambrose has been loaned back to OCB and will be available for the young Lions. In addition, senior Lions Tommy Redding and Cristian Higuita have been loaned to the USL reserve team as well.
TFCII will be without the services of Head Coach Jason Bent after he was ejected from the team's 3-2 victory over Bethlehem Steel last week. Defender Wesley Charpie will also miss tonight's game after receiving a red card in the victory.
Last Week's Lineups
OCB: Mark Ridgers; Tyler Turner, Mikey Ambrose, Kyle McFadden, Antonio Matarazzo; Jonathan Mendoza, Andrew Ribeiro, Tony Rocha*, Marcus Obekop, Keegan Smith; Michael Cox
TFCII: Angelo Cavalluzzo; Wesley Charpie^, Mitchell Taintor, Skylar Thomas, Anthony Osorio; Christopher Mannella, Brian James, Luca Uccello, Sal Bernal; Raheem Edwards, Shaan Hundal
*After signing with the senior side, Rocha will not be available for OCB tonight
^Charpie will be unavailable tonight after receiving a red card in TFCII's last game
Keys to Victory
- Maintain the Resilience: It's a sports cliche but only because it's true; there is no more dangerous team than one that takes an "us against the world" mentality. OCB showed that sort of demeanor and strength in its comeback win over Louisville last week, and with the season dying down and the playoffs growing increasingly near, Anthony Pulis' charges would do well to maintain that level of resilience it displayed against the league leaders.
- Will the Kids See More Action?: One of the major bright spots in that victory over Louisville was Orlando City Academy product David Loera, who not only created a scoring chance for himself after coming off the bench, but also registered an assist on Keegan Smith's winning goal. One cameo appearance is very little to go on, but young Loera made quite a lot of his opportunity.
- Ridgers' Excellence: The Scotsman continues to shine in goal for OCB, and again made himself useful by saving a key free kick opportunity from Louisville's Niall McCabe. OCB will only go as far this season as Ridgers' ability to spring for key saves will allow.
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 7:30 p.m. tonight.