Orlando City B (1-2-1, 5 points) was thoroughly outplayed for the second straight week as the Young Lions fell 2-0 to Columbus Crew 2 (3-1-0, 9 points). The hosts scored a goal late in each half to come away with the two-goal victory. Jacen Russell-Rowe and Erik Hurtado scored the goals for the hosts.
Martin Perelman made the most changes between consecutive games that he has all year in Columbus. Defenders Alex Freeman, Quembol Guadalupe, and Thomas Williams were all out of the starting lineup, with Williams not even on the bench. Additionally, Diego Pareja was out of the starting lineup for the first time this season.
David Boccuzzo was back in the lineup after coming off the bench in Fort Lauderdale Sunday evening and Erick Gunera got his first start since the season opener against Chicago Fire II. The most notable additions to the lineup were first-team defender Michael Halliday and newly signed Victor Yan.
Last weekend in Fort Lauderdale, Inter Miami II dominated the majority of the game on its way to a 2-0 win. This game wasn’t much different for OCB, as Crew 2 dominated play for most of the game. Better finishing by the hosts would likely have seen this game out of hand well before the final whistle.
Crew 2 kicked off the game and most of the first half was spent on the OCB side of the field. The attacks started in the fifth minute when Columbus got its first chance. A Mohamed Farsi cross ended up with Isaac Angking but the midfielder put it wide of the target.
An odd situation happened just after the shot. The players were called to the sideline on an overcast night. However, storms weren’t expected in the area until after the game. It turned out the delay was because of a change in officials. Shane Kennard started as an assistant referee and Alex Billeter was the center referee. But after just five minutes, Billeter became the fourth official and Kennard was put in charge of the match.
“The referee felt that she wasn’t physically able to perform the duties of a center official,” PRO said in a statement after the game. “For the integrity of this match, the best course of action was to change roles and complete this assignment as the 4th official.”
When the game started up again, Crew 2 remained on the attack. The hosts continued to push numbers into the opposing third, while OCB looked to break on the counter. They almost got that opportunity in the 11th minute, but a poor pass by Moises Tablante gave it back to Crew 2.
In the 17th minute, Crew 2 had its first great chance when a corner by Angking found the head of Philip Quinton. The center back attempted to redirect the ball on target but sent it wide. It was one of several excellent chances the Crew sent wide to keep the game close.
Farsi created another chance in the 25th minute, finding Noah Fuson in the box. Fuson was able to get his shot on target but OCB goalkeeper Javier Otero, who had another great game, blocked it.
OCB finally got a decent chance in the 29th minute. After nearly a half hour of defending, Tablante did well to win a corner for the Young Lions. Joey DeZart’s cross found the head of OCB’s leading goal scorer, Jack Lynn, at the back post, but the shot was right at Crew 2 goalkeeper Patrick Schulte.
OCB got its best chance of the first half in the 35th minute. A flurry in front of goal allowed Lynn and Wilfredo Rivera to get shots on goal, but both were blocked.
It appeared as though Crew 2 was set to get back on the attack a couple of minutes later, but Yan won the ball back for the Young Lions at midfield. OCB had numbers going forward on the counter and Yan found Tablante heading towards goal. The midfielder got into the Crew box and fired on goal but Schulte was able to make the save.
Great reaction save from Schulte— MLS NEXT Pro (@MLSNEXTPRO) April 15, 2022
We are still even at Historic Crew Stadium pic.twitter.com/e4kHUHqg5U
After being played off the field in the first 30 minutes, OCB was finally getting into the game and looked as though it could take the lead. In his first game back in the starting lineup since the season opener, Gunera decided to get in on the action, taking a long-distance shot. It was a good attempt and was on target, but Schulte did well to tip it over the crossbar.
As the game neared first-half stoppage time, Crew 2 started to take over again. In the 43rd minute, a bad turnover gave Russell-Rowe a chance in front of goal. His shot beat Otero but not the post as OCB was saved by inches.
A minute later he had another chance. Angking found Russell-Rowe in the box again, but his right-footed shot from the right of goal was wide.
After two near misses, Russell-Rowe finally converted two minutes into first-half injury time. A nice one-two between Farsi and Marco Micaletto allowed the former to get a low cross into the box. Russell-Rowe beat three OCB defenders to the ball at the top of the six and his first touch knocked it past Otero for the opening goal.
Off of the ensuing kickoff, Tablante darted down the field and tried for a quick response. The midfielder got into the Crew 2 box but shot from a narrow angle and could only hit the side netting.
After the first 45 minutes, Crew 2 led in most statistical categories, including possession (56.7%-43.3%), shots (9-8), passes (268-207), passing accuracy (82.5%-79.7%), crosses (23-17), and duels won (23-17). However, the late goal was the only Crew 2 shot on target, while OCB put four shots on frame in the opening period.
Both teams got an early chance in the second half. OCB got the first shot when a weak Lynn attempt was saved by Schulte. In the 48th minute, Fuson got a good chance on goal for the Crew, but he couldn’t keep the shot down as it sailed high and wide to the right.
Then, in the 62nd minute, OCB nearly found an equalizer. Tablante carried the ball into the Crew 2 box and went down. The referee didn’t blow for a penalty, but Tablante was able to send the ball outside to DeZart before hitting the turf. The first-team midfielder got his shot on target but Schulte did well to get low and make the stop with his trailing leg.
OCB’s inability to finish nearly cost the Young Lions moments later, when Crew 2 went right down the field and created a flurry of chances. In the 64th minute, Isaiah Parente found Fuson in the box. The Young Lions had a chance to clear, but couldn’t get a foot on the ball and it ended up with Fuson. This time he got his shot on target, but Otero made the save.
Two minutes later, Parente took his own chance on goal. A corner kick found Parente but his header was right at Otero and OCB was able to briefly clear.
However, a minute later, Crew 2 got a third successive chance. This time a Hurtado cross found Fuson in front of goal and the forward redirected it. Fortunately for OCB, it was just wide right of the post and the Young Lions were able to clear again.
In the 76th minute, Crew 2 had a great chance to double the lead. A set piece just outside the box was played short to Farsi, who took it toward the end line. Two OCB defenders converged but Farsi used some nice footwork to split the defenders and send a ball towards the top of the box. Crew attackers wisely left the ball as Jordan Knight entered the 18. His shot was strong and on target, but Otero was up to the task, knocking it over the crossbar.
The hosts finally doubled their lead with nine minutes remaining in regular time. In the 81st minute, another quick one-two between Farsi and Micaletto allowed Farsi to find Hurtado making a run in the box. Gunera was on Hurtado but was caught flat footed as the Crew 2 attacker got behind him. With no other defenders between him and the goal, Hurtado slipped the ball by Otero and into the far corner, giving Crew 2 a 2-0 lead.
Fuson almost made it three for Columbus when OCB once again failed to clear the ball. Fortunately, his shot was blocked and the deficit remained at two.
While OCB fell 2-0, it could’ve been much worse. Crew 2 ended the game with more possession (54.4%-45.6%), shots (20-13), passes (457-388), corners (8-6), crosses (14-7), duels won (59-34), and tackles won (13-9). What kept the game close was Columbus’ lack of shooting accuracy. After putting just one of nine shots on target in the first half, Crew 2 put just four of 11 shots on target in the second half.
OCB did much better in terms of accuracy, putting seven of its 13 shots on target. But most of those shots were weak attempts or from long distance. Additionally, Schulte had an excellent game, finishing his clean sheet with six saves.
The loss sees the Young Lions fall to 1-2-1 on the season, with five points due to the extra shootout point after the draw with NYCFC II. The record places OCB in third in the Central Division and fifth in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, Columbus moves to 3-1-0 with nine points and sits atop the Eastern Conference.
After a tough two-game road trip, OCB will return home next Sunday when the Young Lions host New England Revolution II. That 6:30 p.m. game will be at Exploria Stadium and will follow the MLS team’s match against the New York Red Bulls.