In a game with near misses, incredible plays, and some controversy, Orlando City B (2-5-3, 9 points) came away with a point after a 2-2 road draw with FC Tucson. The Young Lions took the lead just before halftime through Rafael Santos but Tucson (3-4-2, 11 points) took the lead on goals by Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu and Terron before OCB equalized on a goal by Koby Osei-Wusu.
OCB traveled out to Arizona tonight for the first time ever. Head Coach Fernando Jose De Argila Irurita made two changes to his starting lineup, replacing Moises Tablante and William Bagrou with Tresor Mbuyu and Jordan Bender. While the absence of Tablante was due to an exam and beyond his control, it was the first change to the starting lineup since May 3.
While the first 20 minutes of the game were rather slow, the chances picked up quickly. The first solid opportunity of the game came in the 20th minute when Austin Ledbetter sent a long ball into the box. Jordan Jones climbed the ladder to head it towards the six-yard box, where Kody Wakasa was waiting. The hosts thought they may have had the opener but Leonardo Simas stuck his foot out and was able to clear it out of danger.
Six minutes later, it was OCB’s chance to take the lead. As he has become known to do, Serginho took the shot from long distance, challenging Phillip Ejimadu to his near post. However, the 19-year-old goalkeeper — on loan from Los Angeles FC — pushed it wide and out of play.
The chances picked up again late in the first half. In the 37th minute, Devin Vega picked up a free ball just on OCB’s side of the field and quickly played it forward for the charging Jones. With his third touch, the Tucson striker fired on goal, rattling the crossbar behind Juliano Chade. Devyn Jambga followed it up with a shot over the crossbar but was ruled offside.
The first goal of the game finally came in the 44th minute. After receiving a cross-field pass by Thiago Souza, OCB defender Matheus Silva took a high shot toward goal. Just as the ball left his foot, he was pushed by Jones, giving the Young Lions a dangerous free kick. OCB captain Santos stepped up to take the set piece and hit a hard shot past Ejimadu and into the net for the game’s opening goal.
OCB has been coming out well in the second half of recent games but the Young Lions were as sloppy as they’ve been this season early in this one. Just two minutes after the break, they nearly conceded by their own foot. A bad misplay by Silva allowed Zach Wright to gain possession and send a cross into the box. The ball sailed toward Jones at the back post but Simas beat him to it. The clearance went the wrong direction for Simas, clinging off the defender’s own post.
While sloppy play in the back nearly cost the Young Lions inside the first 10 minutes of the second half, the equalizer came with a little bit of controversy. A corner kick for Tucson gave the visitors a chance to get Osei-Wusu on the field. As the forward was making his way onto the field, the home side took the corner kick. Wheeler-Omiunu won the header against an unprepared defense, putting it past Chade.
Continuing to press forward, FC Tucson took its first lead of the game in the 73rd minute. Another poor clearance allowed Terròn to gain possession and play it outside for Jambga. The first touch by Jambga was back for Terròn, whose diving header went into the far corner for the goal, giving the hosts a 2-1 lead.
The second goal by the home side appeared to awaken OCB as the Lions immediately went on the offensive. In the 76th minute, Santos nearly scored directly off another free kick. The ball appeared to be heading into the top corner but Ejimadu dove across the frame and tipped it off the crossbar.
Two minutes later, OCB did equalize. A deft touch by Serginho looped the ball over the defender with the Brazilian taking control. Ejimadu came out to the top of the box to win the ball, but he knocked it off Serginho’s shin. As the ball rolled towards goal, Osei-Wusu beat the defenders to the ball and played it into the empty net.
With less than 10 minutes remaining, it seemed like there was one more goal left. In the 86th minute, the hosts thought they had scored it. A corner found Jones, who fired on goal. Chade’s save trickled right in front of Wheeler-Omiunu, who hit it off the inside of the post. The ball rolled gently across the face of the goal line before Kody Wakasa put it in.
As the Tucson players celebrated the late winner and OCB players held their arms high for offside, the referees discussed the play on the near touchline. Eventually, they ruled that Wakasa was offside. As there is no VAR in USL League One, the decision was final.
Easily the most entertaining game of the year, it was full of near misses, spectacular plays, and plenty of controversy. Poor defensive play in the opening minutes of the second half can largely be blamed for the Young Lions not claiming all three points. But Tucson will be disappointed at not finding a third goal, as the home team came quite close.
While OCB was unable to win its third consecutive game, the Young Lions will return home with their first away point of the season. The draw also pulls the Young Lions out of last place for the first time this season as, at least for a day, they climb one point above Forward Madison FC.
After this tough game, OCB returns home to Montverde Academy next Friday night to host Forward Madison FC at 7:30 p.m. ET.