Led by Earl Edwards Jr. and Hadji Barry, Orlando City B (7-6-10, 31 points) thrashed the Ottawa Fury (7-8-6, 27 points), 3-0, to jump into playoff position in front of 1,004 fans in Orlando City Stadium. The young Lions extended the longest unbeaten streak in the USL to nine games, won their second straight game — both by shutout — and moved into a seventh-place tie in points with FC Cincinnati in the Eastern Conference standings. FCC does, however, hold the tiebreaker.
“I’m obviously really pleased,” said OCB Head Coach Anthony Pulis. “The biggest satisfaction for me is that the guys have been rewarded for all their hard work because the performance levels have been really, really well [in past games this season] and they haven’t been rewarded for their good results. I’m just pleased for all the players for all the hard work that they put in every single day. To get a 3-0 victory is very satisfying.”
It was just the second home win for OCB in 2017 and the first since beating Toronto FC II on April 4.
Pulis brought his team out with a few changes to the starting XI. Edwards Jr. and Seb Hines remained to defend the net, but there were three changes on the back line from OCB’s 1-0 win on Saturday at Richmond. Austin Martz, Fernando Timbó, and Zach Ellis-Hayden all were brought into the starting XI. Additionally, Jordan Schweitzer and Michael Cox were in the midfield and forward line, respectively.
“If you look at the past nine games, I don’t know if the back four has been the same two games in a row,” said Earl Edwards, Jr. “Guys are constantly coming in, getting the job done, and getting the ball in places where I can make saves. So a lot of credit goes to the back four and the guys in front of me.”
To start the match, OCB had two chances at the six-minute mark to go ahead. First, Seb Hines tried to redirect a corner, but Ottawa goalkeeper Callum Irving made a one-handed save to keep it scoreless. Seconds later, Lewis Neal whiffed off a low cross at the top of the box.
In the ninth minute, Edwards Jr. made a great diving save that OCB fans have become accustomed to seeing. Ottawa was on the counter attack, and Martz kept the visitors onside, leading to the Fury outnumbering the OCB defenders.
Ten minutes later it was the same story. Ottawa got down the field on the counter after Ellis-Hayden went down injured, and Martz — a midfielder the majority of the year — kept the opposition onside. The Fury captain, Carl Haworth, could have sent the ball across goal but he decided to go straight at goal instead and Edwards was again there to save the day for the young Lions.
Martz made up for his earlier mistake by first perfectly reading a pass and starting an OCB counter. Unfortunately, he then dribbled the ball right out of bounds. In the 26th minute, the fullback took a shot off a bouncing ball that went through the legs of Andrae Campbell, and headed for the corner netting. It was then Irving’s turn to make a great save to keep the game scoreless.
In the 34th minute, none other than Seb Hines put OCB ahead, 1-0. The young Lions had a free kick about 25 yards out, and it looked like a play straight from the training ground. Jordan Schweitzer played the ball in and Hadji Barry ran onto it, turned, and shot. The ball looked to be goal bound, but Hines added a flick of his head to ensure that it found the back of the net.
Two Edwards saves and an almost Edwards own-goal, and the first half was finished. Hines’ goal was the difference, but the Fury had their chances. Edwards made five saves in the first half, as Ottawa used the width of the field to try to beat the OCB defense.
The teams engaged in a little back-and-forth action to start the second half but in the 53rd minute, Campbell took a shot and Timbó came diving in to block it. Timbó's left hand was high above his body when he blocked it, and the referee gave a yellow card to the Brazilian and a penalty kick to Ottawa with no video review. Gerardo Bruna stepped up to the spot for the Fury, but Edwards saved the attempt to keep the young Lions ahead.
After the game, Pulis was “really disappointed” with the officiating. Replays at the stadium showed that the ball hit Timbó’s chest, not his arm, but there was no VAR usage.
“If we are going to use VAR, then these are the types of situations that we need to review,” said Pulis.
Seven minutes later, Barry came up huge for Orlando. Neal’s one-touch pass to Barry set up the UCF product to nutmeg Ramón Del Campo, sending the defender in circles, before slotting the ball under Irving to find the back of the net to put OCB up, 2-0.
Ottawa Head Coach Julián de Guzmán then used all three of his substitutions trying to find some offensive spark for the visitors.
Of course, when you push players forward it leaves the team open to counter attacks, and OCB took full advantage of that. Cox attempted to play Barry long, but the Ottawa defense easily defended it. Barry, full of confidence after scoring three goals in his last three games, fought to win the ball back, then pickpocketed it, and turned, shot, and scored before Irving even knew what was happening.
After the third goal, OCB started to sit back more and just secure the lead. While in the past this has led to mistakes leading to goals, the young Lions held strong and helped Edwards to his league-leading ninth shutout.
“We need to take one game at a time and try to get as many points that we can in the remaining games,” said Barry. “We started that today, which is something we haven’t been really good at in the past few games. The main focus was for us to get three points today and we did that.”
OCB is back in action on Saturday when the young Lions travel to North Carolina to take on the Charlotte Independence at 7 p.m. ET.
Starting XI: Earl Edwards Jr.; Austin Martz, Seb Hines, Fernando Timbó, Zachary Ellis-Hayden; Lewis Neal, Tony Rocha, Pierre Da Silva (Joe Gallardo — 74’), Jordan Schweitzer; Michael Cox (Ben Polk — 86’), Hadji Barry (Albert Dikwa — 72’).
Unused Subs: Ryley Kraft, Youmeni Jules, Connor Donovan, Jake Fenlason.
Goals: ORL — Hines (34’), Barry (60’, 71’); OTT — None.
Yellow Cards: ORL — Timbó (53’), Ellis-Hayden (80’); OTT — Dixon (67’).