A late equalizer by Tresor Mbuyu allowed Orlando City B (3-9-4, 13 points) to break its four-game losing streak Wednesday night with a 1-1 draw against Chattanooga Red Wolves SC at Montverde Academy.
There were two major changes to the OCB lineup for this game. Orlando City Academy product Nathan Simeon was out of the starting lineup for the first time this season, replaced by Brandon John. It was John’s first appearance of the season as he returned from a torn ACL. Also entering the lineup was Moises Tablante. The homegrown midfielder had played great this season but had been out of the lineup since June 12.
OCB entered this game looking to break a four-game losing streak. The Young Lions had failed to score in their last three games and this one didn’t start out well. Just 13 minutes in, Chattanooga got on the board with the game’s first real chance. Sito Seoane received a long ball down the left touchline just outside the box. Turning John, he lifted the ball with his left foot over OCB goalkeeper Juliano Chade, who was well off his line. The ball sailed into the far side netting of the goal, giving the visitors the early lead.
Less than two minutes later, the visitors appeared to have doubled their lead when Amigry Pineda and Seoane broke on the counterattack. Pineda laid it off for Seoane who placed the ball past Chade but he was offside.
Chattanooga got another chance to double the lead in the 20th minute when a bad touch by Serginho allowed Pineda to get in on goal. Fortunately for OCB, he held onto the ball too long, allowing John to close him down, eventually forcing a shot wide of goal.
In the 59th minute, Jordan Bender launched a shot from outside the box that was the closest chance OCB had until that point. The right-footed shot forced Alex Mangels to dive to his right and punch it away.
OCB brought more offensive pressure in the final 20 minutes as the Young Lions searched for the equalizer. Long attempts by Steven Hernandez and Matheus Silva were promising but ultimately didn’t find the target.
In the 88th minute, any hope of an OCB comeback appeared to be lost. In a bizarre incident, referee Tori Penso issued Silva two yellow cards. It started in the 86th minute when Conor Doyle took down Ates Diouf, earning himself a booking. Silva took exception to the lenient punishment as Diouf remained on the ground. Penso issued him a yellow for dissent. As Mbuyu pushed his teammate away, looking to keep him from further trouble, Silva continued to express his displeasure with Penso’s decision. Less than 10 seconds after issuing him his first yellow, Penso displayed a second, sending the defender off.
“I can’t lie, once (we) got the red card and we were a goal down and we went a man down at the same time, some of the guys had their head down,” Mbuyu said after the game. “But I see Will (Bagrou) get everyone hyped up like, ‘We still have five minutes on the clock, so let’s push it and whatever we end up, at least everybody’s giving our all into the game.’ So that was a very good encouragement from Will and his leadership.”
Despite being down a man, OCB was able to push into the attack and equalize during the first minute of injury time. After receiving a short pass from Diouf far from goal, it was a brilliant individual effort from Mbuyu. Carrying the ball diagonally toward the box, Mbuyu found some space between Nicholas Amponsah and Jonathan Caparelli to shoot on goal. His right-footed shot darted across the box and into the far side netting.
During the final three minutes, OCB controlled the majority of possession as the Young Lions attempted to find the winner and claim all three points. The visitors were simply looking to hold on for a hard-fought draw. In the end, the Young Lions couldn’t find the back of the net a second time and settled for a 1-1 result.
“It’s a match that we had a lot of possession throughout the game,” OCB Head Coach Fernando Jose de Argila Irurita said after the game. “They waited for our mistakes but, in the end, justice was served because if we would have lost today, it would not have been a true result of how the game was played.”
OCB faced a lot of adversity in this game, first giving up the early goal and then the late sending off of Silva.
“The team responded well, they kept playing, being very calm,” Argila said. “At the beginning, we were a little nervous on the ball. We wanted to play long balls over the top without probing their midfield, which made us too predictable. They also scored a great goal on a mistake we made because they have a lot of quality up front and have great goal scorers.”
In addition to breaking a four-game losing streak and scoring their first goal in 391 minutes, the Young Lions moved out of last place in USL League One and into ninth after earning the point. They are still 10 points behind Chattanooga for the fourth and final playoff spot, but have something to build upon. They will look to capture their first win in over a month when they travel to South Carolina Saturday night to take on Greenville Triumph SC.