Four days after its 2-1 win in Pittsburgh, OCB (4-4-4, 16 points) played to a 1-1 draw at home in front of 967 fans. Hadji Barry put the Lions ahead but Antonio Correia equalized minutes later as the teams split the points. Rochester (4-1-4, 16 points) is now unbeaten in the last eight matches, including U.S. Open Cup.
“I thought it was a frustrating evening to be honest,” Head Coach Anthony Pulis said after the game. “We had a really good idea of how Rochester was going to come and play, and how they were going to set up, but our decision-making in possession was poor I think at times. Obviously we had a lot of possession, but I don’t think we did enough with it.”
OCB finished the match with 56% possession, but poor passing accuracy from key players like Pierre Da Silva (63%), Barry (75%), Austin Martz (65%), and Scott Thomsen (72%) led to turnovers, which allowed the Rhinos to keep OCB from doing much offensively.
Pulis only made two changes from Saturday. Josh Saunders made his first appearance of the season, coming in for USL save leader, Earl Edwards, Jr. Da Silva also got a rest, as Richie Laryea returned from suspension and was back in the starting XI.
When asked why Saunders was starting instead of the red-hot Edwards, Pulis said, “Jason [Kries] wanted Josh to get a game, as simple as that.”
Additionally, Zach Ellis-Hayden was part of a back four with Seb Hines, Zach Carroll, and Scott Thomsen that remained unchanged from Saturday. Ellis-Hayden constantly got up the field to try and help out the attack, but at the same time did not forget his defensive duties. The defense only gave up nine shots, with four of them after the 80th minute, when OCB was pushing forward and leaving Rochester chances on the counter.
“I think it was right to keep the back four. We are gelling together, and it’s good to have leaders like Seb and Zach in the middle, and the back four I think did a good job today,” Ellis-Hayden said.
Both teams played physical right out of the gates. Richie Laryea was brought down hard about 30 yards from goal, and Hines came in late and earned a yellow card just three minutes in.
The game started out slowly, with both teams passing the ball around and trying to feel the other team out. It looked like it was going to be a long, goalless game, but things changed quickly.
In the 23rd minute, Orlando City broke the deadlock. Barry and Laryea combined for a give-and-go that put Barry one-on-one with Rochester goalkeeper Tomas Gomez. Barry made a great run that beat the entire Rhinos’ defense, took one touch around Gomez, and found the back of the net.
If the name Tomas Gomez sounds familiar it is because Gomez was part of the 2014 14-round shootout in which the Orlando City U-23s upset the Charleston Battery.
“Richie [Laryea] is a good friend of mine, so every time we step on the field we want to showcase the chemistry we have off the field,” Barry said. “It was a great ball by him. We have the chemistry and I played him one-two and he played it right back to me and I kind of put it around the ‘keeper and finished it.”
The goal brought some life into the game, and Rochester immediately went on the attack. Raymond Lee ran down the left side of the field and put a cross into the box that hit Saunders in the chest. Saunders whiffed on the catch and the ball fell to the feet of Correia, who had no problem finding the equalizer.
After the second goal of the match, the game dropped in momentum some. Both teams played conservatively, not forcing anything, and attempting to keep possession. Ellis-Hayden looked goal hungry after scoring his first career goal a few days ago, and made a number of of speedy runs into the box. Both Laryea and Barry also tried using their speed to beat the Rhinos’ high defensive line, but were unable to connect for a second time.
Rochester nearly went ahead just as the match entered first-half stoppage time. Jordan Dover shot from about 20 yards out at what should have been a routine save for the veteran ‘keeper, but it was deflected and changed directions and Saunders was able to get a hand on the ball. His parry went right to the feet of Sofiane Tergou, but luckily for the young Lions, Tergou did not make good contact with it and Orlando City was able to clear the danger.
The first half ended in a fitting 1-1 draw. Orlando City B held the slight edge in possession (54%), shots were tied at two, and both teams combined for 560 total passes.
The second half was just a slow as the first. The two teams tried to keep possession, but turnovers were constant and neither team could get a foothold on the match.
Rochester goal scorer Correia came off in the 60th minute for Wal Fall, followed by Da Silva coming on for Danny Deakin. After this was two yellow cards, one issued to Fall for persistent infringement and the second to Laryea for a hard tackle. That was Laryea’s sixth card of the season, which leads the league. Da Silva gave the young Lions some more energy, but they were still unable to break the deadlock. This led to a change up top, with Albert Dikwa coming on for Barry.
“To have six yellows at this point in the year isn’t ideal to be honest, and that’s something we are going to have to address,” Pulis said of Laryea. “He’s missed a game already and at this stage of the season six is a little bit of an issue.”
The final OCB substitute came in the 76th minute, as David Loera came on for Martz, and the match all of a sudden opened up. Three minutes into Loera’s game and he almost got his first career goal. Laryea crossed the ball in and found Loera all alone, but Loera missed the ball completely.
Josh Saunders recovered from his early mishap to make a few crucial saves down the stretch, including this one:
“To be fair to Josh Saunders,” Pulis added, “he kept us in it there at the end. I think he’ll be the first one to admit that he obviously made a mistake on the first goal, but he made three or four fantastic saves at the end.”
In the 90th minute, Dikwa should have found the game winner for OCB. He was clear on goal but rushed the chance and Gomez made an easy save. The Rhinos went straight on the counter, and found a breakaway of their own, but the shot hit Saunders in the chest. Rochester had another chance with the last kick of the game but Edoung-Biyo’s shot went over the crossbar.
“I give credit to Rochester,” said Barry. “They didn’t give up when we scored that goal, and they came right back and equalized it. I feel like they are a great defensive team. They sit back and it is hard to break them.”
OCB is back in action again on Wednesday, June 14. The young Lions play in Toronto at noon as part of “School Day Games.”
Starting XI: Josh Saunders; Zachary Ellis-Hayden, Seb Hines, Zach. Carroll, Scott Thomsen; Richie Laryea, Lewis Neal (c), Austin Martz (David Loera - 76’), Jordan Schweitzer, Danny Deakin (Pierre Da Silva - 62’); Hadji Barry (Albert Dikwa - 73’).
Unused Subs: Earl Edwards Jr., Ryley Kraft, Michael Cox, Conor Donovan.
Goals: ORL — Barry (23’); ROC — Correia (25’).
Yellow Cards: ORL — Hines (3’), Laryea (66’), Da Silva (87’); ROC — Fall (62’).