Orlando City B (3-16-4, 13 points) continued its losing streak, falling 3-1 to FC Tucson. Two first-half mistakes were too much to overcome as the Young Lions fell for the seventh straight time.
OCB made a few changes for this game from its 2-1 loss to Lansing Ignite FC last weekend. Juliano Chade was back in net as he continues to share time with Christian Herrera. Leonardo Simas and Randy Mendoza, who have started most of the games as outside backs this year, were back in the starting lineup replacing Jordan Hill and Jahlane Forbes. Lucas Ontivero, who was announced by the club as a signing earlier in the day, replaced Moises Tablante in the midfield.
The Young Lions got off to a strong start, mainly due to the play of their newest arrival. The Argentine midfielder forced Tucson goalkeeper Philip Ejimadu into several saves in the first half hour but was unable to beat the Los Angeles FC loaned player.
The missed chances came back to haunt OCB in the 36th minute. A poor touch by Ates Diouf allowed Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu to tap the ball away to Ramone Howell, whose first touch was long for Devyn Jambga. Catching up to the ball far down the left, Jambga played it across for Jordan Jones. However, Matheus Silva was in position to deflect it away. Unfortunately for OCB, the deflection fell right to a wide open Guillermo Delgado, who put it past Chade for the opening goal.
The hosts doubled their lead in the 43rd minute when a seemingly harmless back pass from Simas quickly turned into disaster. Jones pressured Chade, who was too passive inside his own box. He attempted to clear the ball up field but Jones was able to get in front and block it. Winning possession, Jones took the ball toward the top of the six-yard box. Brandon John knocked the forward down briefly but he quickly popped back up and put it into the empty net.
FC Tucson came out flying in the second half, looking like a team that wanted to put the game away. Most of the hosts’ early attack went through Jambga on the left. They created several opportunities and it appeared as though it was only a matter of time before they found a third goal.
It came in the 69th minute. Jordan Jones received the ball near the OCB end line and held it up until his teammates could arrive. Pulling it back, he found an oncoming Erik Virgen, who entered the box unmarked. The midfielder’s first touch was past Chade and into the far corner of the goal.
The goal by Tucson seemed to spark OCB as the Young Lions found new life in the final 20 minutes. The team had its first real attack of the second half in the 73rd minute as a deflected Luc Granitur shot forced Ejimadu to go down to make the stop. The Young Lions continued to push forward and forced the hosts into a clearance a minute later after a Simas cross.
Despite being dominated for most of the second half, OCB pulled a goal back in the 76th minute. Quick passing by Diouf and Granitur allowed the latter to find a streaking Simas darting behind the Tucson defense. His first touch was an excellent strike behind Ejimadu and into the far corner of the goal.
OCB continued to push forward, looking to get back into the game. But the Young Lions were unable to find any real chances beyond their 76th-minute goal. When the final whistle blew, OCB had fallen 3-1.
The Young Lions had some chances early in the first half and could’ve seen a different result with some better finishing. In the end, it was two costly first-half defensive mistakes that put the game out of reach.
The loss sees OCB unable to end the longest losing streak in team history, now sitting at seven games. The Young Lions return home on Friday, Sept. 6 to play their final home game of the season at Montverde Academy against North Texas.