Orlando City B (7-6-11, 32 points) went into this game knowing it needed at least a point to stay above the crucial playoff line, and that’s exactly what the young Lions got. Through an early Hadji Barry penalty goal, some great defending, and bad finishing from Charlotte Independence (12-4-8, 44 points), OCB was able to grind out a 1-1 road draw to extend its unbeaten streak to 10 games (3-0-7).
Both of the game’s goals came early with the in-form Barry netting in the fifth minute, and then Charlotte responding almost immediately with a goal from David Estrada.
Anthony Pulis made seven changes from the side he sent out against Ottawa Fury on Wednesday. Earl Edwards Jr. started in goal as usual with a back line consisting of Youmeni Jules, Conor Donovan, Zach Carroll, and Rafael Ramos. He played a midfield five with Pierre Da Silva and Joe Gallardo on the wings, and Scott Thomsen, Paul Clowes, and Jordan Schweitzer all playing in the middle with Barry leading the front line alone.
This game started very open with both teams showing they weren’t afraid to attack each other. As early as the four-minute mark, Barry was taken down in the box after gliding past Luke Waechter. Barry then calmly scored the ensuing penalty, though Cody Mizell did get his fingertips to it.
Two minutes later, there was a melee in the box with Joel Johnson and Jorge Herrera both getting their shots blocked before an open Estrada dispatched his shot in the bottom left corner and past Edwards Jr.
In the subsequent aftermath, both teams struggled to gain a foothold in the game, but Charlotte ended up taking the ascendancy and keeping it for most of the match. In fact, the game ended with a 21-13 shot count with Charlotte having more, yet the Independence only had nine shots on target to OCB’s eight. Besides most of the Independence’s shots being either off target or straight at Edwards Jr., OCB also defended very well throughout the match.
In the 18th minute, Carroll blocked a one time shot from Herrera in the middle of the box headed towards goal. Then three minutes later, Lewis Hilton curled a shot which was saved by Edwards Jr. A minute later, Herrera had a scissor-kick attempt in the six bounce off the side netting. Both goalkeepers had to come up with several key saves to keep the game level. At this point in the game though, OCB was completely pinned back and it got a much-needed timeout in the 25th minute mark in the form of a hydration break.
OCB didn’t come back into the first half though as the Independence kept controlling the ball and more importantly the midfield. In the 30th minute, the Lions did have a chance though. Thomsen sent Barry in on goal, but he was tackled by Waechter while approaching the box. Charlotte slowed down and was less aggressive near the end of the half, but still kept more possession and OCB couldn’t get a good buildup going.
OCB came out stronger in the second half, but the Indepence continued their good buildup play. Schweitzer had a crack four minutes in, but it hit off an OCB player and went out for a goal kick. A couple minutes later, Barry took it to the byline and cut it back to Da Silva, who had a lot of space in the box, yet Waechter blocked it off the line perhaps redeeming himself for the early foul on Barry. Da Silva then almost immediately had a long shot which was saved by Mizell. Charlotte struggled to become dominant in the game again as it was clear the hosts were going hard to win the game while OCB was more content to draw.
Charlotte did get a slew of chances in the 66th and 67th minutes which could have put them ahead. First, Alex Martinez slipped through Hilton, who forced a save out of Edwards Jr., who also saved a rebound from Jaime Siaj. Estrada had a volley saved seconds later, then Enzo Martinez sent a shot across the face of goal. In the 70th, it was end to end stuff, starting with Henry Kalungi pulling down Barry, who was in on goal. Then, after several back and forth attacking movements which petered out, Enzo cut it back for Siaj who missed his great opportunity wide. In the 93rd minute, Charlotte nearly stole all three points when Hilton sent in a cross which was cut out crucially by Donovan with Siaj poised to put it in the back if the net.
The young Lions finished the night in seventh spot, a point ahead of New York Red Bulls II and a point behind sixth-place Bethlehem Steel — although BSFC has two games in hand. OCB will be on the road again next Saturday when the young Lions take on Louisville City at 7:30 p.m.
Starting XI: Earl Edwards Jr.; Youmeni Jules, Conor Donovan, Zach Carroll, Rafael Ramos (Zach Ellis-Hayden – 61’); Pierre Da Silva, Scott Thomsen, Jordan Schweitzer, Paul Clowes (Timbo – 88’), Joe Gallardo (Austin Martz – 70’); Hadji Barry.
Unused Subs: Jake Fenlason, Ryley Kreaft, Michael Cox, Albert Dikwa.
Goals: ORL – Barry (5’); CLT – Estrada (7’).
Yellow Cards: ORL – Clowes (53’), Carroll (56’), Barry (92’); CLT – none.