Orlando City B (1-1-1, 4 points) opened its 2020 home schedule tonight with a 1-1 draw against Fort Lauderdale CF (1-2-1, 4 points) in the club’s first game at Osceola Heritage Park. After an extended weather delay, Wilfredo Rivera’s opening goal was cancelled out by a mistake from OCB goalkeeper Austin Aviza.
“I think the storm got the momentum out of us and then it took us [a little bit] to get back on it,” OCB Head Coach Marcelo Neveleff said. “In the first half we did good, we had the chances. In the second half I think they [Ft. Lauderdale] were the better team on the field and we were trying to keep up.”
OCB made some changes to the lineup this weekend as Michael Halliday rejoined the starting lineup. It was the first time he played alongside fellow academy product Thomas Williams in the back four. This game also saw the inclusion of Raul Aguilera, who played at North Carolina after graduating from the club’s academy. The midfielder was one of the most coveted academy products prior to college, having played with OCB while still in the academy in 2016.
It was a late night in Kissimmee as these two teams met for the first time. After just 11 minutes of play, with little action taking place, a nasty storm rolled into the area, forcing the players off the field. The delay interrupted the match for two hours and 22 minutes before the two teams returned.
Fort Lauderdale controlled possession in the moments following the break but was unable to create any chances against the OCB defense. That came back to haunt the visitors in the 22nd minute when OCB capitalized. The Young Lions’ high press forced a poor ball out of the back by Fort Lauderdale, ending on the foot of Rivera. The 16-year-old forward took a left-footed shot from outside of the box, which was deflected by Ian Fray. The ball rolled gently past Dylan Castanheira and into the corner of the net for the opening goal.
“It feels good (to score),” Rivera said. “The [final] result was not what we wanted but we will get them next time.”
“He’s a very dangerous player and I think he’s going to get better as we move on and play more games,” Neveleff said of Rivera. “It’s his third game playing professionally, so we expect more.”
It was Rivera’s second goal in as many games and Moises Tablante’s third assist in the last two games — a promising stat for two of Orlando City’s most promising homegrown talents.
OCB played much better after the goal, holding more possession and creating more chances. It appeared as if any future goals would be scored by the Young Lions but a mistake by the usually reliable OCB goalkeeper turned out to be very costly. As Austin Aviza received the ball inside his own six-yard box, a poor touch forced him to quickly play it out. The ball bounced off a closing Ricky Lopez-Espin and rolled slowly over the goal line for the equalizer.
The second half was mostly in favor of Fort Lauderdale as OCB only took two shots after accumulating 11 in the first half. The visitors only had four shots in the first half but took eight in the second half. For the most part, the second half shots taken by both teams were from long distance, not creating much trouble for either goalkeeper.
The closest that either team came in the second half was in the 89th minute, when Lopez-Espin found some space at the top of the box to fire on goal. Aviza dove to his right to make a one-handed save, keeping the game at 1-1.
In the end, the difference between a difficult draw and a second consecutive win was the late first-half mistake by Aviza. While OCB dominated the first half, it was Fort Lauderdale that dominated the second. In the end, both teams ended up with 13 shots, though the Herons put six on goal and the Lions only put four on target.
It’ll be a quick turnaround for OCB as the Young Lions host FC Tucson Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at Osceola Heritage Park, when they look to get back in the win column.