MONTVERDE, FL - Orlando City B took the lead for the second consecutive game but was unable to hold it as the Young Lions conceded twice after the break and fell to Forward Madison FC, 2-1. OCB (0-3-1, 1 point) rarely threatened goal in the latter stages of the game despite the visitors going a man down.
While OCB’s 1-1 draw against South Georgia Tormenta FC saw several starters make their debut, this one only had one, Matheus Silva. Juliano Chade started in goal for the Young Lions, becoming the first goalkeeper this season to make two appearances for OCB. The game also saw the return of Jordan Bender to action, after missing out last week with an ankle sprain.
The visitors had the most of the early chances. J.C. Banks found space in the 12th minute and shot from distance, forcing Chade into a nice one-handed diving save. Two minutes later, defender Don Smart took a shot on goal but it was right at the OCB goalkeeper.
OCB nearly got on the board in the 22nd minute when a start-stop move by Steven Hernandez provided enough room to play the ball across the box. It nearly met a sliding Koby Osei-Wusu but he couldn’t get his foot on it and it went through the box.
In the 36th minute, OCB found its break when Luc Granitur carried the ball into the box before being taken down by Connor Tobin. Osei-Wusu stepped up and slid home the penalty to give OCB the lead for the second consecutive week.
Early in the second half, the visitors equalized. Josiel Nuñez carried the ball to the top of the box, searching for space. Finding his desired space, he fired toward Chade’s left side of the goal. The goalkeeper was able to get a hand to it but it deflected into the side netting for the equalizer.
The equalizer inspired the visitors and they continued on the front foot. In the 61st minute, Nuñez found Banks at the top of the box but the shot went just wide of goal. Two minutes later, Paulo, Jr. lifted a ball across the box for Don Smart who was making a run for the back post but his header went just over the bar.
Forward Madison got its go-ahead goal in the 70th minute when Nuñez took a free kick from just outside the box and slammed it off the post. The ensuing scramble allowed Shaun Russell to get his foot on it and slip it past Chade for Madison’s second goal.
With Madison looking to defend the lead, OCB saw more of the ball in the final 20 minutes but was unable to get a clear-cut scoring chance for an equalizer. The loss is the team’s third in its season-opening, four-game home stand, leaving the Young Lions with just one point out of a possible 12.
“We played two different halves,” OCB Head Coach Fernando Jose De Argila Irurita said after the game. “The first half we played with our identity and we controlled the game. In the second half we lost our identity and we lost control of the game. We tried to attack too fast and we were disorganized with the ball. The other team was more experienced than us and knew how to play this kind of game.”
This is the second consecutive game that OCB has taken the lead, only to give it up. The Young Lions’ head coach attributes it to experience of the opponent and a lack thereof for the Lions.
“When they tie, we got antsy and they were comfortable in the game,” he said. “They came back and made it 2-1 on the scoreboard. They began waiting for our mistake to finish the game.”
The Young Lions play their first road game next week. While taking one point from four games at home is difficult, the team is confident that the young players are learning and getting better.
“They’re giving it all their effort,” said OCB captain Osei-Wusu. “They’re young but they’re learning quick. They’ve shown that when they’re at their best, they’re as good or better than anyone in the league.”
Noteworthy from this game is that striker Ates Diouf, who scored in last week’s draw, went down with a lower back injury in the 34th minute. While the injury is not considered serious, it’s a cause for concern following the nagging ankle injury to Bender and Will Bagrou’s concussion.
On the positive side, 16-year-old midfielder Granitur played the most minutes of his young professional career. After playing less than 20 in two of the first three games, he played all 90 in this one. One of OCB’s most well-known players, the Orlando City Academy graduate made his largest impact yet, drawing the penalty that resulted in the game’s first goal. Granitur refused an interview request after the game, but Irurita seemed pleased with the teenager’s performance.
“We know him and we know what he can do,” Irurita said after the game. “This kind of game is going to help him grow as a player. Last year he was in the D.A., in the U-15s, and we are very impressed with how he’s developed.”
With the team’s four-game home stand ending, the Lions now take to the road for the first time as they travel to take on North Texas SC, meeting FC Dallas’ second team next Saturday at 5:50 p.m. at Toyota Stadium.