Orlando City B (1-2-1, 4 points) will start a three-game road swing against defending USL champion New York Red Bulls II (1-2-1, 4 points) tonight at MSU Soccer Park at Montclair State University in New Jersey. The teams are tied for sixth in points in the USL’s Eastern Conference with the same goal differential, so perhaps the slow start of New York’s senior club is affecting the baby Bulls, who have lost two straight games.
NYRBII is coming off a 3-2 road loss on April 8 at East-leading Saint Louis FC — the team OCB will face upon returning from this road trip. The Bulls led that match 2-1 with strikes from Brandon Allen (52’) and Vincent Bezecourt (58’), only to see the hosts score twice in the final 16 minutes to snatch all three points.
The young Lions, meanwhile, haven’t lost in their last two after dropping the season’s first two matches. OCB defeated Toronto FC II, 3-1, and backed that up with a 1-1 draw against the Charlotte Independence last Saturday. The Lions fell behind in the second half of that match before Albert Dikwa equalized with his first career professional goal.
Pierre Da Silva is eligible to play after serving his one-game suspension for a hard foul against TFCII.
The teams met two times last year in the regular season and again in the USL playoffs. The first meeting came on June 19, 2016, in a back-and-forth 2-2 draw at Titan Soccer Complex in Melbourne. Devron Garcia opened the scoring, only to see the visitors strike twice to take the lead. Da Silva’s 87th-minute strike brought OCB level to earn a point.
The rematch at Red Bull Arena saw the hosts take a commanding 5-1 victory on a night that included testing of the video assistant referee (VAR) system. The VAR helped send off Conor Donovan for denial of a goal-scoring chance, and OCB’s other center back in the match, Kyle Callan-McFadden, was also sent off for picking up two yellows. The third meeting came in the postseason, with Red Bulls II winning handily again, 4-0.
Several important players from last year’s NYRBII squad remain with the club for 2017, including attacking players Brandon Allen, Vincent Bezecourt, and Florian Valot. Meanwhile, OCB defender Zach Carroll will be going up against the club he won the championship with last season.
“It’s going to be a difficult game,” Head Coach Anthony Pulis said. “We’re obviously going there [against the] defending champions. They present all the usual challenges that any Red Bull team gives you. They press really well, they suffocate the space for you to play in, they condense it and it’s difficult to play against. We know we’re going to have to be at our best if we’re going to go there and get anything.”
Most Recent Lineups
OCB (April 8 vs. Charlotte Independence): Earl Edwards Jr; Scott Thomsen, Leo Pereira, Zach Carroll, Zach Ellis-Hayden; Austin Martz, Ryley Kraft, Jordan Schweitzer, Joe Gallardo; Richie Laryea, Albert Dikwa.
New York Red Bulls II (April 8 at Saint Louis FC): Evan Louro; Kevin O’Toole, Justin Bilyeu, Tim Schmoll, David Najem; Vincent Bezecourt, Arun Basiljevic, Dan Metzger, Andrew Tinari; Brandon Allen, Florian Valot.
How to Watch
To catch tonight's game, tune into the official USL Youtube page or at orlandocitysc.com/live for the 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff. For rapid reaction and live updates, follow along at @TheManeLand on Twitter.
We’ll bring you the action and a full match recap after the game concludes.