Orlando City B came back home for its first game in two weeks, taking on Saint Louis FC. After a physical battle, each team takes home a point from a 0-0 draw in front of 1,008 at Orlando City Stadium.
The game marked the return of Orlando City defender Seb Hines, who hadn’t seen the field since his knee surgery back in March.
“First and foremost I think the players deserve a huge amount of credit and a pat on the back for the performance they’ve put in tonight off the back of what’s been a really grueling schedule of late for us,” Head Coach Anthony Pulis said after the game.
High pressure from Saint Louis FC (3-2-2, 11 points) set the tone for the first 15 minutes of the match. The visitors were physical with players on the ball, trying to force OCB (2-3-3, 9 points) into some turnovers. In the process, however, Saint Louis committed five fouls in the first 15 minutes alone, though no cards were shown.
“We knew exactly what they were going to be like,” Puils said of the high pressing. “We scout teams very diligently, we do our research, so we communicate with the guys that it was going to be like that. It was going to be chippy, it was going to be scrappy. That’s the way they (Saint Louis) like to play. We made the players aware of that yesterday during the training session and to be fair to them, they stood up to it. We told them we’re gonna have to win the battle first and foremost and let our football do the talking and for the most part, they did a good job of that.”
Just past the first quarter of an hour, the momentum shifted toward Orlando. The Lions strung together lots of passing around the defense, trying to methodically break down the high pressing of the away team. OCB was able to get some good looks on goal, but was unable to capitalize on any of its chances.
In the 30th minute, a good buildup off of a Saint Louis turnover saw Zach Ellis-Hayden deliver a thumping ball towards goal, just deflecting off the outside of the post and out of play.
Another good buildup from Ellis-Hayden in the 35th minute saw a looping cross find the head of Hadji Barry, but his header was off the mark and out of play on one of the Lions’ best chances in the first half. Just one minute later, off of a turnover, Barry tried an effort from just outside the box, but it was easily saved by Saint Louis keeper Adam Grinwis.
With that, halftime came and went, with Orlando controlling possession and having more chances on goal than their opponents (6-2). Hines made way for Conor Donovan in between the halves, completing what Pulis called a fitness test for the English center back.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve been out there playing again,” Hines said of his game. “So, it’s nice to get a little run out and hopefully no more setbacks during the season.”
As the second half began, Orlando continued to push for a goal. Just 15 minutes into the half, Pierre Da Silva had an excellent chance on goal, striking a ball from outside the box on his preferred left foot, but an even better save from Grinwis forced the ball out for a corner.
OCB continued to try to break down the staunch defense of Saint Louis, subbing in Danny Deakin and Albert Dikwa over the final 20 minutes, but neither of them could manage a shot on goal.
The closest the Lions came to a late goal was a blast by Austin Martz in the 88th minute that just sailed over the crossbar.
At the end of the match, OCB was not able to find the back of the net, despite a multitude of chances, something that the team will need to work on in training. Earl Edwards Jr. made the biggest of his two saves in stoppage time to thwart a late Saint Louis chance and secure his second clean sheet in as many games.
OCB finished with 51.3% of the possession and a 9-7 edge in shots (3-2 on target).
This marks the team's third draw on the young season and moves the Lions into fifth in the Eastern Conference standings.
The Lions have two weeks off before they travel to Ohio to take on FC Cincinnati on May 13.
Starting XI: Edwards Jr; Ellis-Hayden, Hines (Donovan 45’), Timbo, Thomsen; Martz, Schweitzer, Neal, Da Silva; Laryea (Deakin 77’), Barry (Dikwa 87’).
Unused Subs: Fenlason, Youmeni, Clowes, Polk.
Yellow Cards: ORL - Da Silva (53’); STL - Plewa (52’), David (70’).