MONTVERDE, FL — Orlando City B (0-2-1, 1 point) gathered its first point of the year this evening, but not in the way it wanted. The Young Lions got the lead in the 59th minute but an injury time equalizer by South Georgia Tormenta FC (2-0-2, 8 points) stole two points from the home side late.
OCB got off to a good start, controlling possession over the first 20 minutes of the game. As time inched closer toward halftime, the visitors began to see more possession and started to control the pace of play. OCB striker Ates Diouf nearly got his first goal of the year in the 15th minute when he found himself free in the box. But Tormenta FC goalkeeper Pablo Jara came off his line to collect the ball. The Young Lions nearly scored again in the 24th minute when William Bagrou sent a low ball through the box. Somehow, the ball snuck through a group of players and went harmlessly out of play.
Shortly after Bagrou’s pass, the visitors started to see their chances come. In the 28th and 34th minutes, dangerous balls were played into the OCB box but were ruled offside. The latter appeared to give Tormenta FC the lead as Charlie Dennis slid the ball past OCB goalkeeper Juliano Chade, but had made his run too early.
Tormenta FC had a golden chance shortly after the break when Nil Vinyals found himself free just feet from Chade. The Brazilian goalkeeper came strong off his line to make one of a few brilliant saves to keep the game scoreless. Two minutes later, it was Marco Micaletto who had a chance at the Young Lions’ number one, but the 21-year-old was able to get down and make the stop.
In the 59th minute, OCB finally found its goal through striker Ates Diouf. Austin Amer sent a long ball down the right side of the field for Thiago Souza. Beating his man to the end line, he played a low to ball to Bagrou at the top of the six. The striker touched it to the side, looking for space, when Diouf came flying in to put it home. It was the first time that the Young Lions have held a lead this season.
With his first goal of the season, Diouf believes that he will gain confidence from it.
“I think this will give me more confidence, especially for the next game. I’m feeling more confident right now,” he said after the match.
Up a goal with a half hour to go, OCB looked to maintain possession as the Young Lions tried to see the game out. While both teams had chances, the visitors appeared to be pushing and were unable to achieve the success inside the box that nearly saw them take the lead earlier in the game.
Just as it appeared that OCB had done the job, disaster struck. A free kick from midfield went flying into the box, finding the head of a diving Lars Eckenrode. Chade came off his line attempting to punch it out, but found Bagrou’s head rather than the ball. The result was an equalizer and OCB going a man down for the third straight game as Bagrou had to be stretchered off the field.
“I think we did a really good game,” OCB Assistant Coach Jose Silva Caparros said after the game. “We played with our own identity. We need to continue believe in the identity.”
Caparros said he was concerned with the defending in the latter stages of the game.
“We need to continue defending forward,” he said. “We cannot drop the team inside our box against a team that is taller than you.”
OCB lost two players to injury during the game. Serginho went down in the 16th minute after suffering a knee to the back. Two minutes later, he went down again, causing his removal from the game. OCB’s athletic trainer said the injury was tightness in the back.
The more serious injury occurred at the end of the game. As Eckenrode scored the equalizer, Chade’s knee slammed into the side of Bagrou’s head. The forward was taken off the field on the stretcher and it’s unknown how serious the injury is or how long he will be out.
While the draw feels like a loss, OCB gains its first point of the season.
The Young Lions will return to action Friday night when they host Forward Madison FC at Montverde Academy.