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Orlando City B vs. New York Red Bulls II: Final Score 6-5 as OCB’s Comeback Comes Up Short

OCB gets dominated early by New York, but nearly comes back after trailing by four goals.

Victor Tan, New Day Review

With a chance to secure a playoff spot, Orlando City B ( 10-9-12, 42 points) failed to make the best of circumstances in a 6-5 goal-fest in front of 1,009 fans in Orlando City Stadium. With the win, New York Red Bulls II (13-13-5, 44 points) move to sixth place in the Eastern Conference and the Baby Bulls are now in control of their own destiny, while OCB needs a win on Thursday against rivals Tampa Bay Rowdies and other results to go its way to make the post season.

“Crazy game. Unfortunately we paid the price for some really, really poor defending tonight,” said OCB Head Coach Anthony Pulis. “Didn’t pick the best of games to defend how bad we did, and it’s just a shame because I think up until tonight we’ve had the best or the second best defensive record in our conference. Individual errors have cost us, but massive positive for me was the way the guys kept going, didn’t give in, and kept fighting right to the final whistle.”

OCB started the game quickly and pushed players forward, but the visitors struck first. New York’s Stefano Bonomo got in behind the OCB defense and out muscled Conor Donovan to go one-on-one with Edwards. Bonomo easily slotted the ball in the back of the net to put the Red Bulls up 1-0 in just the third minute.

Less than 10 minutes later, the visitors doubled up on Orlando. Florian Valot found some space and took a crack from about 25 yards out. His shot went upper 90 and Edwards had no chance at keeping it out.

In the 16th minute, OCB pulled one back. Hadji Barry took on a defender at midfield before putting a perfect through ball up top to Michael Cox. Cox was one-on-one with the ‘keeper and decided to pass to a wide-open Lewis Neal. Neal passed the ball into the back of the net to cut the deficit in half.

New York dominated much of the first half. The young Lions’ defense looked shaky and had difficulty stopping the Red Bulls attack. When in possession, OCB quickly went on the counter, but seemed to turn the ball over more than go on the attack.

In the 42nd minute, Bonomo got his brace and put the visitors up, 3-1. Valot put a cross across the box to Junior Flemmings, who took a one-touch shot. Edwards made the diving save but OCB’s defenders were caught ball watching as Bonomo’s half volley went in the upper corner.

“We win as a team, we lose as a team,” said Neal. “You can talk about defenders making mistakes or not doing well in that first half, but there has been games this season where the defense has kept us in the game. We all make mistakes at times but we all have to come together as a team, and accept that loss as a team. Not just blame it on the defenders for the first half.”

The half ended 3-1 in favor of the visitors, and it was all New York. The Red Bulls II held 57% possession and took 14 shots to OCB’s two. The young Lions struggled to get any offense going and the lead could have been much worse.

Pulis made two changes to start the second half, clearly hoping to spark a change in his team’s performance. However, the young Lions still struggled and Bonomo netted his hat trick just six minutes into the second period. Four minutes later, the lead was extended to 5-1 after Basuljevic found the back of the net off of a pass from David Najem.

“We’re fighters,” said Zach Carroll. “Going down early is never the best start to a game but, you know, you have to keep grinding and we showed that tonight. We put five goals up against one of the best teams in the USL, and so I think that gives us confidence going into Tampa that if we do go down it’s never over.”

Down four goals, Pulis used his last sub in the 61st minute. Austin Martz came on for Pierre Da Silva and the young Lions started to throw players forward. This led to a handful of opportunities for OCB to get back into it.

Cox took a first time shot in the 65th minute, but his shot at the six-yard box rocketed over the crossbar. A minute later, OCB won a foul about 30 yards out. Lewis Neal took the free kick and found the diving head of Carroll and his headed goal gave the young Lions some life. Carroll’s strike against his former team cut New York’s lead to 5-2.

In the 77th minute, OCB won another free kick and tried to run the same exact play. Neal’s kick was just a tad long, but Carroll headed it back to a wide-open Timbo. Timbo hit it off the volley to bring the young Lions within two, at 5-3.

“Pierre [Da Silva] went off, and he’s usually our free kick taker. Ant [Pulis] shouted out and told me to take the free kick, and it wasn’t rocket science,” said Neal. “It was just putting it into a decent area and trying to get on the end of it.”

OCB had a few more chances, but any hope at a comeback ended in the 86th minute when Timbo fouled Valot in the box. Valot took the spot kick himself and easily converted it to put the Red Bulls II up, 6-3.

With New York thinking the game was won, OCB kept throwing players forward and had multiple chances as the clock wound down. After being played in over the top, Cox drew a foul in the box in the 90th minute. The referee viewed the play as denial of an obvious goal scoring opportunity and New York’s David Abidor received a red card for the violation. Barry took the penalty and powered it into the back of the net to pull the young Lions back within two goals. Rejuvenated, OCB won the ball back and Austin Martz found the back of the net seconds after Barry’s goal to make it 6-5.

Down just a goal, it looked like OCB found a miracle and would come back. However, after 11 goals, 18 fouls, four yellow cards, a red card, and two penalty kicks, the referee awarded just two minutes of extra time. This ended any hope of the comeback, and New York held on to win.

When asked after the match about there only being two extra minutes, Pulis was clearly frustrated by it but responded by saying, “I don’t want to say anything about that because I’ll get myself into trouble.”

OCB plays its last regular season game on Thursday, against the Tampa Bay Rowdies. The young Lions need to win to have a chance at making the post season.

“It’s not over,” Pulis said. “Everybody’s sick and really disappointed and really down. But when we get back in at the start of the week it’s important than we, as a staff, rally them, get them going again, and we put in a really good performance and get a result against Tampa on Thursday.”

Starting XI: Earl Edwards Jr; PC (Kevin Alston - 46’), Connor Donovan (Fernando Timbo - 45’), Zach Carroll, Zach Ellis-Hayden; Pierre Da Silva (Austin Martz - 61’), Tony Rocha, Lewis Neal, Richie Laryea; Hadji Barry, Michael Cox.

Unused Subs: Jake Fenlason, Paul Clowes, Danny Deakin, Ben Polk.

Goals: OCB — Neal (16’), Carroll (67’), Timbo (77’), Barry (91’ - pen.), Martz (92’); NY — Bonomo (3’, 41’, 51’), Valot (12’, 87’ - pen.), Basuljevic (55’).

Yellows: OCB — Donovan (28’), Ellis-Hayden (80’); NY — Kutler (43’), Basuljevic (63’), Bonomo (72’), Ndam (76’).

Red Cards: OCB — None; NY — Abidor (91’).