Orlando City B (6-10-5, 25 points) was officially eliminated from MLS NEXT Pro playoff contention after a 2-0 loss to New England Revolution II (8-9-4, 29 points) at Gillette Stadium. Malcolm Fry and Italo scored the goals for the hosts on either side of halftime.
OCB Head Coach Martin Perelman made three changes from the team that drew 2-2 with FC Cincinnati 2 last weekend. Captain Andrew Forth and Diego Pareja weren’t in the team and Nick Taylor was on the bench. Brandon Hackenberg and Moises Tablante returned to the starting lineup for this game and Tahir Reid-Brown got his first professional start.
The back line in front of Javier Otero included Hackenberg, Thomas Williams, Reid-Brown, and Ignacio Galvan. Mikey Halliday, Alex Freeman, Victor Yan, and Alejandro Granados made up the midfield with Tablante and Favian Loyola up top.
The Young Lions came into this game needing at least two points to keep any hopes of making the postseason alive. That means they needed a win in regulation or a draw and a penalty shootout win. However, New England also needed a win in this game and played with more urgency than Orlando. As a result, the Revs dominated the game, especially in the second half.
OCB got the first chance of the game in the third minute when Freeman found enough space to shoot on goal from the right side of the box. However, it was too close to New England goalkeeper Max Weinstein, who knocked it away with his leg.
The first chance for the hosts came two minutes later when Ryan Lima took a shot from outside of the box, but it was right at Otero, who made the easy stop.
The Revs thought they should’ve had a penalty in the ninth minute when contact between Marcos Dias and Williams resulted in Dias going to ground in the box. But referee Wes Caouette didn’t call a penalty and OCB was able to clear.
OCB’s best early chance came in the 14th minute when a corner by Granados was headed out to Loyola just outside of the box. Loyola carried the ball into the 18 and had enough space to aim for the far corner, but a defensive foot got in front at the last second, deflecting it into the arms of Weinstein.
The biggest problem for OCB in this game was giveaways at the top of its own box. On multiple occasions, center backs Williams and Reid-Brown played the ball right to the opposition. So, instead of clearing the ball out of their own area, they allowed the Revolution to continue their attack.
In the 31st minute, Fry caught Galvan in a bad defensive position. The left back allowed the New England midfielder to carry the ball to the end line and get a cross off that would’ve been dangerous. However, Galvan was able to catch up to Fry and get a piece of the cross, knocking it out for a corner.
Two minutes later, Sean O’Hearn found Dias behind Williams on a quick throw-in. Williams was forced to pull Dias back, resulting in the game’s first booking. If Williams hadn’t committed the foul, Dias would’ve been in on goal. It gave the Revs a free kick at the top of the box, which was blocked by the wall. It went right back to O’Hearn, who took the ball into the box but Halliday did well to come across and block the shot.
The Young Lions had a couple of good chances in the 35th and 36th minutes. First, Tablante found Loyola in the box. The teenager took a quick shot, but Pierre Cayet got in his way to block it. A minute later, Loyola found Tablante in the box, but he took a little too long with the ball, allowing Trevor Zwetsloot to catch up and dispossess him.
The hosts finally broke through in the 40th minute. Cayet played a long ball down the left, just beyond the reach of a sliding Hackenberg. It reached Dias, who sent the ball into the box where Fry had beaten Reid-Brown to the goal. With Otero at the near post, all it took was a small touch by Fry to put it in and give New England the 1-0 lead.
The last real chance of the first half was for OCB in the 45th minute. Similar to the earlier chance, Loyola found Tablante in the box to the left of goal. Tablante took a little too long with the ball again, allowing defenders to get in front and block it into the side netting.
At halftime, OCB had more possession (54.3%-45.7%) but New England had more shots (6-5) and shots on target (4-2). The hosts also passed more accurately (88.2%-86.2%). Both teams had four corner kicks and five crosses in the first 45 minutes.
Perelman made one change at halftime for OCB, bringing on Theo Franca for Galvan. It was Franca’s third appearance this season — all coming as a second-half substitute.
OCB got off to an attacking start to the second half, winning a corner in the 47th minute. The corner by Granados found Tablante, but the forward hit it over the goal. In the 50th minute, Halliday saw Freeman making a run into the box but the pass was a little too hard and went out for a goal kick.
Following the overcooked pass by Halliday, New England took over again. In the 51st minute, Dias made a long run across the top of the box. He found enough space to shoot and fired on goal. Otero appeared to be caught a little off guard by the shot, but fortunately it was off the crossbar.
A minute later, Michel found Lima in the box. Lima’s first touch was a shot on goal but that too hit the crossbar, allowing OCB to avoid falling behind by two goals in a must-win game. But the Young Lions’ failure to close down attackers finally became costly.
The Revolution finally struck a second time in the 53rd minute. A slick move by Dias allowed him to beat his defender and play the ball towards the penalty spot. Lima controlled the ball and found Italo to his left with space. Italo quickly shot towards to far post and into the corner, giving the hosts a 2-0 lead.
Dias nearly got a third goal for New England in the 55th minute when a nice move left Hackenberg on the ground. He took a shot on goal but Otero made a strong diving save to keep the deficit at two.
In the 61st minute, Jake Rozhansky sent in a cross. Somehow, nobody was on Cayet at the top of the six-yard box, allowing the defender to redirect a header towards goal. The header was down and to the far post, but was just wide.
Good combination play at the top of the box in the 73rd minute by Rozhansky, Dias, and Weverton allowed the latter to get a shot off from just inside the box. Fortunately for OCB, he hit it straight at Otero, allowing the goalkeeper to make an easy save.
In the 75th minute, Zwetsloot found substitute Meny Silva in front of goal. Silva got a shot off but Otero made a great save, blocking it away. The ball went to Italo, but his second-touch shot was blocked. The second block went to Silva — who took the initial shot — on the right for a third consecutive shot, but that too was blocked and OCB was finally able to clear.
OCB nearly got one back in the 85th minute when Halliday made a nice run down the right. After taking it to the end line, Halliday sent a very dangerous ball across the front of goal. Tablante was there to get a head on it but he just missed making contact.
New England quickly went to the other end and had a great chance of its own. Dias played Weverton behind Freeman, allowing him to get an open shot on goal. Otero reached out his right hand and got enough of the ball to put it over the crossbar.
Two minutes later, Silva carried the ball into the box on the right. No defensive players stepped up to challenge him, so Silva took a shot, but it was wide of the far post. That was the last chance of the game.
OCB ended the game with more possession (52.2%-47.8%) but New England dominated the chances. The Revs had more shots (21-8), shots on target (9-2), and passing accuracy (86.8%-86%). The teams had the same number of corners (9-9) and OCB had more crosses (15-11).
OCB was looking to stay alive and have a chance to make the postseason for the second time in team history. However, this loss officially eliminates the Young Lions from that opportunity. The only year they have been in the playoffs in any league was in 2016.
OCB will take the field again on Sept. 11 in Philadelphia — the Young Lions’ penultimate game and final away game of the 2022 MLS NEXT Pro season.