KISSIMMEE — Orlando City B (6-10-5, 25 points) played to a 2-2 draw with FC Cincinnati 2 (4-14-3, 16 points) at Osceola County Stadium tonight. Favian Loyola gave the Young Lions an early lead but Cincinnati came back with second-half goals by Calvin Harris and Nick Markanich. Loyola completed his brace with an equalizer in the 60th minute, securing a 2-2 draw.
Because MLS NEXT Pro rules dictate that draws go to penalty shootouts afterward, the teams went to spot kicks to decide who got an extra point in the standings. Cincinnati won the shootout 7-6 to take two points from the game.
OCB Head Coach Martin Perelman made two changes to the starting lineup for this game. Moises Tablante was not in the team at all and Neicer Acosta was out with a right hamstring injury that saw him exit the team’s last game against Columbus Crew 2. They were replaced by Alejandro Granados and Mikey Halliday.
The back four in front of goalkeeper Javier Otero included Ignacio Galvan, Thomas Williams, Andrew Forth, and Alex Freeman. Nick Taylor, Victor Yan, Alejandro Granados, Mikey Halliday, and Diego Pareja made up the midfield with Loyola up top.
Tonight's line up!#ORLvCIN | #VamosOrlando pic.twitter.com/cHVI3MYZvR— Orlando City B (@OrlandoCityB) August 29, 2022
OCB had the first chance in this game and it came inside the first minute. It started in Orlando’s third of the field with a bad turnover by Williams. However, Forth won it back for OCB and the Young Lions pushed forward. Freeman found Taylor darting up the left and the 2022 MLS SuperDraft pick took a shot but hit it over the goal.
They had another chance in the fifth minute when a Granados free kick found Freeman in the box. The right back volleyed it across for Williams with his right foot but the center back missed the target.
Cincinnati goalkeeper Evan Louro quickly sent Markanich the other way. Finding enough space for a shot at the top of the box, the midfielder went for goal. The ball sailed just over the crossbar but it appeared as though Otero had it the whole way. Regardless, it was the best chance for Cincinnati in the opening minutes.
In the ninth minute, Markanich found Harris across the field. Harris put the ball past Otero and into the corner but assistant referee Preston Joyner judged him to be offside. Harris ran over to argue the call with Joyner but to no avail as the game remained scoreless.
OCB took the lead in the 14th minute through Loyola, who signed an MLS NEXT Pro contract with the club earlier in the day. Yan started the play by sending the ball wide for Halliday and then continuing his run into the box. Halliday played it back to the midfielder, who sent the ball towards the penalty spot. Loyola was there to put it into the right corner of the goal to give the Young Lions the early 1-0 lead.
Both teams had chances in the following minutes. In the 17th minute, Granados went for goal on a free kick just outside the box but hit it wide. A minute later, Arquimides Ordonez had a chance on the other end but he too hit it wide of the target.
OCB nearly doubled its lead in the 23rd minute when a give-and-go between Galvan and Loyola allowed Galvan space in the box. He was alone with Louro and attempted to slip it behind the Cincinnati goalkeeper, but Louro did well to trap it between his legs and not give up a rebound.
Following the save, the Young Lions continued their attack on the Cincinnati goal. Halliday and Loyola had chances in the 24th and 27th minutes, respectively, but their shots were right at Louro.
In the 27th minute, OCB came very close to making it 2-0. Yan found Taylor on his left, and — after a couple of touches — the midfielder took a shot. It looked like Louro got a touch to the ball, but when it hit the post and went out, the referee awarded a goal kick.
The Young Lions came close again a minute later when Pareja had a chance. It was a great attempt towards the far post but Louro made an impressive save, diving to get his fingers to the ball and putting it off the post. The ball rolled back across goal but nobody in purple was there and Cincinnati cleared it away.
The game started with Freeman at right back and Halliday at right midfield. However, at about the half hour mark, the two switched with Freeman pushing forward and Halliday dropping back into a defensive role.
The Young Lions again nearly doubled their lead in the 38th minute. Yan found Taylor on the left with a long ball and the midfielder took a shot from inside the box. It was blocked by Louro but the ball went right to Freeman on the right. The Homegrown signing fired towards the back post but Louro got down to make a great save with his leg.
At the end of the first half, FC Cincinnati 2 had more possession (54.1%-45.9%), crosses (5-3), and more accurate passing (83.6%-80.2%), but OCB had more shots (14-6), shots on target (6-0), and corners (3-2). Most importantly, the Young Lions had the best chances and converted on one to carry a 1-0 lead into the break.
Cincinnati got the first chance of the second half in the 47th minute. The visitors had numbers going forward and were able to find a shot, but Otero made a great one-handed save, knocking it away and keeping his team’s 1-0 lead.
OCB had the first sustained possession of the second half right after the save but it was Cincinnati that scored. In the 53rd minute, a quick, long goal kick caught the Young Lions off-guard and allowed Ordonez to get a shot off in the box. Otero blocked the shot but it popped up for Harris who headed it in for the equalizer.
Harris heads in the equalizer for @FCCincinnati2! pic.twitter.com/9wIKgQGi3m— MLS NEXT Pro (@MLSNEXTPRO) August 30, 2022
Just two minutes later, Cincinnati took the lead. Morgan Marshall sent a ball across the box for Markanich, who headed it in for Cincinnati’s second goal in two minutes, giving the visitors a 2-1 lead.
“Unforced mistakes because we were out of focus on some sequences,” Perelman said about conceding the two quick goals. “We shouldn’t do that. The players know. But it happened to us and we received a goal in that situation.“
The visitors nearly made it 3-1 in the 59th minute when Harris sent a Marshall cross back across the box. It looked like a cross attempt, but the ball bounced off the top of the crossbar. Ordonez ended up with the ball and played it for Markanich in the box. The midfielder shot, looking for his second goal, but Otero was there to make the stop.
OCB quickly went the other way with Taylor darting down the left. After a long run with the ball, the midfielder sent it across the box to Halliday on the far side. Halliday quickly sent it back into the box where Loyola was waiting to put it in, tying the game at 2-2. It was Loyola’s second brace of the 2022 MLS NEXT Pro season.
Loyola ties it up with his 2nd of the night! pic.twitter.com/sZWrjLdBTA— MLS NEXT Pro (@MLSNEXTPRO) August 30, 2022
“I’m getting really confident,” Loyola said. “My style of play, the coach helps me out a lot. This team really pushes me to be at my best potential. So, Coach Martin really helps me as a player to play the way I want to and the goals are because of the style of my play.”
In the 69th minute, Williams fouled Markanich to the right of goal, conceding a free kick. Markanich went for goal, attempting to curl the free kick inside the far post, but it went just wide.
Two minutes later, Markanich had another chance when he was played forward by Khris Turcios. Markanich was behind the OCB back line and shot on goal but Otero did well to get down and knock it away.
In the 73rd minute, Ordonez found Bryan Sanchez, who had enough room to take a shot on goal. However, Otero was once again up to the task, blocking it away to keep the game at 2-2.
As the game entered injury time, both teams had chances to claim all three points. In the 90th minute, a Granados free kick found the head of substitute Brandon Hackenberg, but the defender couldn’t get over the ball and it went out of play.
Three minutes into injury time, OCB had a great chance in the box but Louro got down to make the stop, sending it out of play for a throw-in. Cincinnati won the ball back and went the other way. The visitors had numbers going forward into the OCB box but Forth made a great tackle to send it away. Had he not gotten the tackle right, it would’ve been a penalty. Instead, it was the final touch of the game and it ended 2-2.
While FC Cincinnati 2 had significantly more possession (59.5%-40.5%), the game was quite even. OCB had more shots (17-16) and shots on target (8-6) but Cincinnati had more crosses (16-8) and better passing (84.1%-76.4%). Both teams ended the game with five corner kicks.
“It was a tough game,” Perelman said after the game. “I think we did good first half. We created many situations to score. Again, we couldn’t put the ball inside the goal and then we suffered. We made some mistakes in the second half. We didn’t play well. We miss a lot our players that was out, then it was a draw. Then penalties are penalties, but the team doesn’t lose again, so it’s OK.”
“Happy with the two goals,” Loyola added. “Felt we could’ve done better as a team to get a couple more. Not happy with the result. We really needed this one to kind of get a peek to playoffs. At the end of the day, I scored two goals to help the team somewhat.”
The postgame penalty shootout was a stellar performance, with each converting its first six penalties. Both goalkeepers guessed correctly three times in the first 12 attempts but each attempt was into the corner.
It came down to the seventh attempt for each team before the night reached its ending. Forth stepped up with the shootout tied at 6-6 and sent the ball over the crossbar. Zico Bailey shot next for the visitors and put his attempt into the corner, securing the extra point for Cincinnati.
This is the fifth time that OCB has gone to penalties this season. After starting the season 2-0 in shootouts, the Young Lions have now lost their last three, including in two consecutive games. Coincidentally, every OCB game that has gone to penalties has been at home.
Despite the shootout loss, OCB now finds itself in the middle of a four-game unbeaten run (2-0-2). After beating NYCFC II 2-0 in New York, the team returned home and beat Rochester NY FC 5-2 with a largely first-team lineup at home. The Young Lions followed that two-game win streak with a pair of 2-2 draws against Columbus Crew 2 and FC Cincinnati 2, but couldn’t claim the extra point in either shootout.
Having wrapped up a three-game homestand, the Young Lions will now head back out on the road. The two-game road trip begins Friday at 5:30 p.m. when OCB faces New England Revolution II at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA.