Orlando City B (6-13-5, 25 points) ended its 2022 MLS NEXT Pro season with a 2-1 loss to Toronto FC II (12-9-3, 41 points) at Osceola County Stadium this afternoon. Moises Tablante gave the Young Lions an early second-half lead, but late goals by Reshaun Walkes and Kobi Franklin saw the visitors take all three points.
OCB was officially eliminated from playoff contention last weekend with its 6-1 loss to Philadelphia Union II. Therefore, the team didn’t have much to play for on Decision Day. Toronto, on the other hand, came into the game in third in the Eastern Conference and had a chance to move up to second with a win.
OCB Head Coach Martin Perelman made six changes from the team that lost to Philadelphia last weekend. Most of the changes were necessary as Jack Lynn was sent on loan to San Antonio FC and Alex Freeman, Thomas Williams, and Favian Loyola were called up to the U.S. U-19 National Team camp. The other players from the loss to Philadelphia not in today’s team were Adam Grinwis and Nick Taylor — the latter is also on international duty with Cambodia. The six players were replaced by Mason Stajduhar, Mikey Halliday, Diego Pareja, Victor Yan, Erick Gunera, and Tablante.
The Young Lions started with a back three of Andrew Forth, Jared Romero, and Tahir Reid-Brown in front of Stajduhar. Halliday, Alejandro Granados, Pareja, and Ignacio Galvan made up the midfield behind a front line of Victor Yan, Gunera, and Tablante.
It looked like OCB was going to get the first attempt at goal in the eighth minute when Tablante found his way into the Toronto box. However, Adam Pearlman was able to catch up to the OCB attacker and knock the ball out of play. Galvan ended up with the ball off the ensuing corner and had space for a shot from the top of the box but a poor touch saw the ball cleared away.
The first shot of the day came in the 18th minute when Pareja pulled the shirt of Steffen Yeates, giving Toronto a free kick from about 30 yards out. Themi Antonoglou sent the free kick low and past the wall, but Stajduhar was right there to collect it.
Toronto had another good chance in the 28th minute when Jordan Perruzza played a quick ball for Hugo Mbongue in the box. The forward’s first touch was a low shot on goal, but Stajduhar came off his line to cut down the angle. The OCB goalkeeper got down and blocked the shot with his foot, keeping the game scoreless.
In the 36th minute, a Halliday pass to Pareja was quickly won away by Yeates and Toronto went the other way. The midfielder played it forward for Paul Rothrock, who shot on goal but the shot was tipped out of play by Stajduhar.
OCB had its best chance of the first half in the 38th minute when Galvan played a nice diagonal ball for Yan. The attacker’s first touch was a shot on goal but Toronto goalkeeper Luka Gavran was able to tip it wide with one hand. Granados’ first corner was knocked out of play and his second was into the hands of Gavran, allowing the visitors to clear.
The Young Lions had one last chance through Yan, who fired off a shot from just outside of the box. However, the ball curled wide of the far post and out for a goal kick.
After 45 minutes of play, OCB had more possession (57.3%-42.7%), corners (4-2), and passed more accurately (89.5%-84.6%). Toronto had more shots (6-2), shots on target (3-1), and crosses (3-2).
The first chance of the second half was for OCB and broke the scoreless deadlock. The play started when Antony Curic attempted to head a long ball to his teammate but it went right to Yan. The attacker carried the ball into the box to the right of goal with two defenders chasing him. Whether it was a shot or a cross, the ball rolled right past Gavran and to the feet of Tablante, who tapped it in to give the Young Lions a 1-0 lead.
OCB had a great chance to double the lead in the 64th minute when Tablante made a long run to the top of the box and was taken down by Alonso Coello. The OCB midfielder fell in the box but referee Matthew Franz determined that the foul occurred just outside of the area. Tablante and Galvan stood over the ball but Tablante took the kick. He sent a low shot towards the far corner but the ball skipped just wide of the post.
In the 69th minute, a long ball across the field found the head of Rothrock on the right side of the box. The forward attempted a diving header towards the far post but Stajduahr was there to make the diving catch.
Two minutes later, Toronto had a great chance to equalize when Walkes was played to the right. He quickly passed the ball to Julian Altobelli and the midfielder cut inside to lose his defender and create enough space for a shot. Stajduhar got down to block the shot, which popped up in the air. The goalkeeper quickly got up and caught the ball, ensuring that Toronto wouldn’t have any more opportunities.
In the 86th minute, Toronto found its equalizer. Walkes received the ball on the left and played a quick give-and-go with Markus Cimermancic. Halliday closed down Walkes and the second-half substitute appeared to push him down. However, the referee didn’t call a foul and Walkes continued in on goal. He slipped the ball past Stajduhar and Toronto evened the game at 1-1.
Four minutes later, Toronto found the winner. A free kick was headed out by Brandon Hackenberg but it went right to Kobe Franklin, who hit the bouncing ball first-time towards goal. The shot was a rocket that screamed just inside the near post. Stajduhar had no chance and Toronto took a 2-1 lead.
OCB had its last chance in second-half stoppage time when a long ball across the field was headed back across the box by Hackenberg. If an OCB player had been near the top of the six-yard box, it would’ve been an easy goal, but nobody was there and the ball went out of play.
Toronto had one last chance when a give-and-go in the box between Altobelli and Walkes gave Altobelli a shot on goal. But Stajduhar did well to block the ball out of play for a corner kick. That was the last touch of the game as the referee signaled full time and Toronto went away with a 2-1 win.
At the end of the game, OCB had more possession (57.3%-42.7%), corners (7-2), and passing accuracy (87.2%-82.4%). Toronto had more shots (11-4), shots on target (8-2), and crosses (7-4).
“I think we did a great job. We were limited because our amount of players, but even with that, I think we did a great game,” Perelman said about the loss. “We controlled completely the game. We should win. And then we lost on two mistakes by the referee. That’s it. Not too much to say. Really sad.”
The loss sees OCB end the season ninth in the 10-team Eastern Conference, only ahead of FC Cincinnati 2. The Young Lions finished fourth in the five-team Central Division and were 18th in the 21-team league.