Orlando City B traveled to Charleston tonight where the young Lions held the first-place Battery to a scoreless draw.
Despite OCB controlling possession in the first half with 57%, the better chances on goal came from Charleston. The story of the half, however, was the number of times the Battery were offside. Five of the six offside calls were on striker Heviel Cordoves, who couldn’t seem to time his runs correctly all night.
The best chance of the half came from OCB. Tony Rocha sent a ball forward from the back for Hadji Barry, whose first touch was to Scott Thomsen. Receiving the ball in the air, Thomsen touched it into the open space for Barry to run onto. Finding himself behind the Battery defense, Barry’s second touch was a shot on goal but goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper came off his line to make the sliding save, keeping the game scoreless.
Charleston made a big change early in the second half, bringing on Jamaica international and former Orlando City U-23 player Romario Williams for Cordoves, whose final offside count was an astounding seven. It was Williams’ first game back with Charleston after helping Jamaica to the CONCACAF Gold Cup final.
As the game wound down in the final 20 minutes, OCB began to dominate possession and was able to penetrate the Battery’s third of the field. However, the young Lions repeatedly failed to connect the final ball for a good chance on goal.
Their best chance of the half came in the 79th minute. After a corner by Scott Thomsen was sent back out his way, the midfielder fired on goal, forcing a block by Cooper. The rebound found the head of Lewis Neal who sent the follow-up over the crossbar.
Despite OCB dominating possession, the best chance of the half was by Charleston in the 83rd minute. Carrying the ball into the box, Maikel Chang shot on goal but the shot was deflected by Zach Ellis-Hayden. The deflection bounced right back to Chang, who had a clear shot on Earl Edwards, Jr., but Seb Hines came flying in to block it out for a Battery corner kick.
The ensuing corner found the head of Neveal Hackshaw, who drove the ball toward Edwards’ right post. But Neal was stationed on the post and was able to clear it away off the line with a header.
Things got a bit feisty late in the game when Justin Portillo and Ellis-Hayden got into a brief scuffle. Despite Portillo flipping his hand at Ellis-Hayden’s face, which should’ve been a sending off, both players only received yellow cards. Ellis-Hayden’s yellow is his fifth and will see him suspended for the team’s Wednesday night clash with the Harrisburg City Islanders.
It’s a good point for OCB. The young Lions were able to keep Romario Williams — the USL Golden Boot leader with 14 goals in 15 games — quiet during his 37 minutes and managed to draw a point away against the team that sits atop the USL’s Eastern Conference. And they did it without the help of their best player, Pierre Da Silva, who served the third game of his three-game suspension.
The point sees the young Lions sit in 11th place in the Eastern Conference with 23 points out of their first 19 games. They sit just one point behind the Ottawa Fury and New York Red Bulls II for the eighth and final playoff spot. The Lions will take the field again Wednesday night when they host the City Islanders at 7:30 p.m. at Orlando City Stadium.
Starting XI: Earl Edwards Jr.; Zach Ellis-Hayden, Austin Martz, Seb Hines, Fernando Timbo; Scott Thomsen, Paul Clowes, Tony Rocha, Lewis Neal (Jordan Schweitzer, 88’); Danny Deakin (Albert Dikwa, 68’), Hadji Barry.
Unused Subs: Jake Fenlason, Zach Carroll, Conor Donovan, Jordan Schweitzer, Joe Gallardo, Youmeni Jules.
Yellow Cards: ORL – Hines (5’), Clowes (90’), Ellis-Hayden (90’) CHS – Lasso (65’), Griffith (84’), Portillo (90’).