As we count down to the new year of 2023 — which will be Orlando City’s ninth in MLS and the Orlando Pride’s eighth in the NWSL — and say goodbye to 2022, it’s time to look back at the club’s 10 best moments of the year as selected by The Mane Land staff via vote.
Orlando City B kicked off the team’s inaugural MLS NEXT Pro season with a 2-0 win over Chicago Fire II at Osceola Heritage Park on March 26. It was a match full of “firsts” with Jack Lynn making his professional debut, Head Coach Martin Perelman getting his first win with the club, and OCB earning the club’s first win in MLS NEXT Pro in the Young Lions’ latest iteration.
The Young Lions didn’t start out very well in the first half, with Chicago getting the better of the chances. However, it was OCB keeper Javier Otero who kept Orlando in the match in the first half, making four big saves, including this one:
Things should have been a bit easier when Chicago’s Justin Reynolds was sent off after being given a straight red for denying Wilfredo Rivera a goal-scoring opportunity. However, despite Orlando City B being up a man, Chicago generated more shots than Orlando with a difference of 13-8 (7-0 on target) in the first half. Orlando did have more of the possession, but five of those eight shots by Orlando were blocked by Chicago.
OCB finally broke through in the second half on a 50th-minute header by Lynn. It was his first professional goal and also the club’s first-ever MLS NEXT Pro goal. Rivera provided the assist on the go-ahead goal to get the first assist.
In the second half, Erick Gunera-Calix earned his second yellow after receiving one on a soft foul in the first half, and was sent off. Perelman said he thought the first call didn’t deserve a yellow, and that the second didn’t even deserve to be called at all. Regardless, both clubs were now playing with 10 men.
The clubs traded chances, with Otero making more saves to keep the one-goal lead, but Orlando was unable to get a second goal until the 87th minute, when Lynn buried his shot inside the far post on another assist from Rivera. The Young Lions were then able to see out the remainder of the match and start the season off with a big win.
It was a match that wasn’t always pretty, but one in which key players like Lynn, Otero, and Rivera made the type of impact you want on the developmental squad. It could have been the type of match that leads to future victories, but that wasn’t the case. Unfortunately, the season as a whole didn’t live up to that first match, but it began as well as anyone could hope for with a victory by the Young Lions.
Come back through New Year’s Eve as we count down the remainder of Orlando City’s top 10 moments of 2022.