Orlando City B (1-10-3, 6 points) fell to the Richmond Kickers (8-5-2, 26 points) today for the team’s seventh consecutive loss. Despite taking an early lead on a Kenji Tanaka goal, a 24th-minute red card was too much to overcome for the Young Lions as they fell 3-1.
OCB Head Coach Marcelo Neveleff put out his most homegrown starting lineup to date, with 10 of the 11 starters having come out of the academy or been drafted by the club. The only player in the starting lineup from outside the club for this game was Adam Ozeri. With Mateo Rodas on the bench and Raul Aguilera out of the team, Wilfredo Rivera was given the armband. In doing so, the 16-year-old attacker became the youngest player to captain OCB, Orlando City, or Orlando City U-23.
“I believe that we could have done some better, especially playing, but at the end of the day, it’s good that we are giving playing time to many academy boys,” Neveleff said about his squad selection. “Hopefully one day they will be on the first team with Oscar (Pareja).”
This was a big game for the Kickers as they trailed Union Omaha by three points with two games left heading in. Since Omaha only has one game left, a pair of wins by the Virginia-based club would put them in the USL League One final against Greenville Triumph SC.
Despite having less to play for, OCB was the team that came out flying. The Young Lions had the majority of the chances in the opening minutes and were the first to get on the board. In the eighth minute, Moises Tablante received the ball on the left and darted into the opposing half. He sent a long, low ball toward the end line for Tanaka, who caught up to the ball just before it went out of play. The 19-year-old forward fired from a tight angle and beat Richmond goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald for the game’s opening goal.
The OCB goal was only its second since Sept. 3 and both of those goals have come against the Richmond Kickers. The other goal was scored three minutes into second-half injury time Oct. 7 in Richmond. It was also the first time that the Young Lions had led a game since Aug. 14, when a 22nd-minute goal by Rivera gave OCB the lead over Fort Lauderdale CF in Kissimmee.
A key moment in this game came in the 24th minute when OCB defender Daniel Rosario was sent off. A giveaway by Tanaka created a chance for the visitors. Sprinting into the box, Stanley Alves played the ball across for Matthew Bolduc. As the midfielder shot on goal, Rosario turned his body, resulting in the ball hitting his arm. Since OCB goalkeeper Austin Aviza was out of his net, Rosario was the last defender. That convinced referee Alyssa Nichols to award a penalty and issue a red card.
After earning the penalty, Bolduc stepped up to the spot looking to equalize. Having saved a penalty in the first meeting between these two teams in Richmond, Aviza guessed right again, diving to his right to make the save. However, the Young Lions still had to play the remaining 66 minutes with 10 men.
Neveleff said Aviza standing out is both a good and bad thing.
“He gives the team confidence but it’s also contradictory because making Aviza a good player means that we are not defending that well,” he said.
Richmond equalized in the 36th minute with what would be considered a more difficult attempt. A ball across the top of the box was misplayed by Gregory Boehme but fell to the foot of Mutaya Mwape. The Zambian didn’t make a mistake, curling the ball beyond the reach of Aviza for a long-range equalizer.
Aviza said that the team didn’t hang their heads at the half, despite being down a man and having given up its first lead in two months.
“I think at halftime we were really focused,” the goalkeeper said after the game. “We were all locked into the game still. We didn’t really hang our heads low or anything. The message was that we could go in and win this game.”
OCB was able to get out of the first half with the game tied at one but it didn’t take long for Richmond to take the lead after the break. In the 51st minute, good ball movement by the Kickers allowed Scott Thomsen to be sent through on the left. The former Young Lion sent a cross too close to Aviza but the OCB goalkeeper was unable to collect. The ball bounced off his palms and right to Mumbi Kwesele. The midfielder’s shot would’ve been a tight angle so he played it nearby to Alves who put it in, making it 2-1.
The Kickers nearly doubled their lead in the 55th minute when a turnover by OCB allowed Ivan Magalhaes an opportunity. The defender dribbled through several defenders, keeping his balance to get in on goal. However, Aviza did well to close down Magalhaes and make the save with his right leg.
The visitors did double their lead in the 64th minute. After receiving the ball from Thomsen, Oalex Anderson did well to shield it from Franklin Carabali, creating the space needed to run on goal. Good ball control allowed him to beat Rodas and Thomas Williams and slip the ball past Aviza for Richmond’s third goal of the game.
As expected, the sending off of Rosario had the biggest impact on the game. Prior to the red card, OCB had the majority of possession and chances, resulting in the 1-0 lead. However, the Kickers took over after that, dominating most statistical categories. In the end, the visitors ended up with 55% possession and outshot the Young Lions, 19-8.
“I think that the team was in command of the win until the penalty kick, even though we were making some mistakes trying to come out and play,” Neveleff said after the game. “Being down to 10 men conditioned the whole game but the effort from the guys was a good one.”
It was a needed win for the Kickers as they attempt to claim the final spot in the USL League One final. As for the Young Lions, they drop their seventh straight game and haven’t claimed a point since Sept. 3.
Despite having already secured last place in the league, the team wants to show good effort.
“Today, even though we are out of the playoffs, we are in last place in points, but they showed character, that they want to compete,” Neveleff said. “They feel they owe it to themselves to win a game at home.”
“I think the biggest thing is that we know that we are out of the playoffs but the effort is still there,” Aviza added. “No one is really hanging our heads. Every game we go with the same mentality that we want to win and that we want to play. No one is really down on that because every game is a fight for us.”
There is no word on whether the postponed match between OCB and Chattanooga will be made up, so at this point OCB has just one more game currently on the schedule. The Young Lions will host league-leading Greenville Triumph SC on Saturday afternoon.