Orlando City B (5-6-5, 20 points) returned home tonight for the first time since June 7, against an FC Cincinnati (5-5-6, 21 points) team that has been making headlines for its impressive U.S. Open Cup wins. Jordan Schweitzer opened his OCB account with an early goal, but the visitors bounced back to earn a draw, in front of an announced crowd of 980.
“I want to start off by giving Cincinnati huge credit,” OCB Head Coach Anthony Pulis said. “For them to perform like that, two days after playing 120 minutes against Chicago in the Open Cup is fantastic. For the most part I was pleased. We spoke and we worked on a press for the past couple of days. I thought the guys executed well, for the most part, and the disappointing thing for me was that we gifted them a goal.”
Pulis made just three changes to his side that beat Rochester last week. Youmeni Jules, Scott Thomsen, and Joe Gallardo made way for Zach Ellis-Hayden, Jordan Schweitzer, and Austin Martz.
The game started out hot for Orlando City B and the Lions took the game right at Cincy. In the third minute, Martz put a low cross into the box. Schweitzer came out of nowhere to get on the end of it and his curling shot found the back post, as he opened up his account. Mitch Hildebrandt could only watch as his team went down a goal.
“It was something that we worked on in training,” Schweitzer said of the goal. “We noticed that they drop off and don’t track runs in the midfield. So, it’s something that we work on in the training ground, and it comes off well there and it’s a good little combination, and a play by Austin [Martz]. My goal was just to try to get something on it, and try to get it on frame, and it goes in.”
After going up a goal, Pulis’ side became very compact defensively, and it was clear that the plan was to secure a shutout. Every time that a Cincinnati player got on the ball, two or three Lions were right there to disrupt the attack and win the ball back. When in possession, the young Lions played a patient game, aiming to control the ball. Much of the play was horizontal as they worked their way up the field.
Edwards nearly gifted the visitors a goal in the 13th minute. Hines played the ‘keeper a pass, and Edwards made a mess of it, opting to hit the ball first time. The ball went right to Djiby Fall, who had a breakaway on goal. Edwards was able to recover and make the save, though, and keep the game at 1-0.
Cincinnati tied the game up in the 17th minute, as a perfect ball over the top led to a two-on-one with Andrew Wiedeman leading the way. Hines was caught up field on Clowes’ turnover and Edwards ran to Wiedeman to cut down the angle, but the speedy Fall was wide open on the far side for the tap-in.
The second goal of the match opened it up a bit, and both teams struggled to get a foothold on it. Turnovers and fouls led to a large portion of the remainder of the first half being played inside the middle third of the field. Cincy defended with eight or nine men behind the ball, and made it difficult for the young Lions to go through the middle. Pulis’ side countered this by using the width of the field. OCB constantly switched the field, made overlapping runs, and put low crosses into the box. However, the Ohio side used physicality to win the ball back and then the speed of Fall to get behind OCB's defense. Donovan and Hines simply could not keep up with the Senegalese striker and it led to multiple chances, including this big save from Edwards:
The first half ended with the score tied, 1-1. Cincy was ahead in shots, 9-3, but seven of them were from long range as the OCB defense held strong. Apart from total shots everything else was pretty even. The visitors held the slight advantage in possession (52%) and duels won (51%), while passing accuracy was even at 83% and both teams had about 250 total passes in the first 45. Cincinnati had seven total chances, but Edwards came up with four big saves.
The second half started much the same as the first half ended. The visitors had a few chances, but neither team was able to gain an advantage or separate themselves from each other. Around the 55th minute Cincinnati started to hold onto the ball more, instead of going directly onto the counter, and had a few long spells of possession. The OCB defense stayed compact, though, and, with the help of Edwards, Cincy was unable to break through.
“I think it’s a little more care from all of us to take care when in possession,” Schweitzer said. “We need to keep the ball better and we’ve got the quality to do so. We’ve got to watch the film. We’ll get better from this. We’ll look at what went wrong, what went well, and all focus is on the next one now.”
In the 68th minute, OCB should have gone ahead. Ellis-Hayden put a perfect cross in from the right hand side, that found the head Albert Dikwa. Dikwa was shoved to the ground by defender Austin Berry, but he still managed to get a head on it that forced Hildebrandt to make a diving save. There was no call on the play, on what should have been a penalty kick, but it was also a superb save by the FCC goalkeeper.
The game finally started to open up a bit more in the final 10 minutes, with both teams looking for the go-ahead goal. However, in the 87th minute, things got interesting. Pierre Da Silva came in late and his tackle got Kadeem Dacres. The referee handed him a yellow card, but the assistant referee called the center over and, after a brief conversation, he changed Da Silva’s yellow card to a straight red.
The referee then gave an additional five minutes of stoppage time, and Cincy pushed men forward in hopes of leaving Orlando with all three points. Pulis countered by putting eight men behind the ball and substitute Michael Cox up top. When in possession, the Lions tried to feed Cox the ball and use his speed to go on the counter, but they never got the chance.
At the dying moments, OCB needed Edwards to once again come up big. Matt Bahner took a long-range shot that forced the ‘keeper to make a one-handed, low diving save. Danni Konig was the only player following up and nearly got on the end of it but OCB was able to clear the ball, and the game ended, 1-1.
Cincinnati finished with more shots (14 compared to OCB’s four) and possession (55%) after a strong second half, but it failed to leave Orlando with a win. A point is a fair result for both teams, and the focus is now on the next match. Pulis was altogether pleased with his team’s performance, but knows that it can still improve in certain areas.
“They never really cause us too much problems in open play,” said Pulis. “It was just us causing ourselves problems in our defensive transition. We would turn the ball over in poor areas and we weren’t organized enough behind the ball. I think in the run of play a point is probably a fair result.”
OCB is now winless in its last five home games, with the last home win coming way back on April 4 against Toronto.
The young Lions are back in action on July 8, taking on Pittsburgh at Orlando City Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
Starting XI: Earl Edwards, Jr.; Timbo (Scott Thomsen — 73’), Seb Hines, Conor Donovan, Zach Ellis-Hayden; Austin Martz, Jordan Schweitzer, Pierre Da Silva, Danny Deakin (Lewis Neal — 69’), Paul Clowes; Albert Dikwa (Michael Cox — 81’).
Used Substitutes: Jake Fenlason, Zach Carroll, Ryley Kraft, Ben Polk.
Goals: ORL — Schweitzer (2’); CIN — Fall (16’).
Yellow Cards: ORL — Hines (45’), Clowes (46’); CIN — Berry (75’).
Red Cards: ORL — Da Silva (87’).