(Photo by Victor Tan / New Day Review)

Match Recap

ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando City B had to shake off the rust entering Saturday’s match against the Charlotte Independence, as the United Soccer League side is coming off its second two-week break in the month of May. And it looked like OCB might not have had any issues playing in a competitive match again, as OCB scored the first goal.

Ultimately, though, the Independence (3-2-2, 11 points) defeated OCB (3-4-3, 12 points) 3-1 at Orlando City Stadium in front of a crowd of 1,098.

“Bitterly disappointed, to be honest,” OCB head coach Anthony Pulis said after the match. “I felt like for the first 40 minutes was probably the best we’ve played since I’ve been in charge of OCB, to be honest. The football was sharp. We moved it really well. Passing was crisp. Got players in good spaces in between lines. Lots of efforts at goal.

“I thought there was only one team that was going to go on and win it. And it kinda shows the importance of scoring when you’re on top, and when you have that much pressure, you need to make the most of it… And that was what we didn’t do.”

Up 1-0, OCB conceded two goals and the lead just before halftime. In the 40th minute, Charlotte’s Alex Martinez worked his way down the left flank and crossed the ball into David Estrada, whose one-timer rooted OCB goalkeeper Earl Edwards Jr. to the spot. Enzo Martinez scored the go-ahead goal in the 45th minute on an assist from inside the box by Jorge Herrera.

“Somehow, they go in 2-1 up at halftime, and the mood in the locker room was really deflated, as you can imagine,” Pulis said. “After playing so well and being down—so we kinda tried tot get the guys going again and restore some belief.”

In the 51st minute, Charlotte made it an even more difficult obstacle when Herrera headed a ball past the outstretched arm of Edwards Jr. from just inside the six-yard box. That effort began with Joel Johnson’s cross from the right flank that found Herrera on OCB’s back post.

“We just went out there, and we wanted to start the second half how we started the first because, for 35 minutes, we played really well. Probably the best football we’ve played all season,” midfielder Danny Deakin said after the match. “But, yeah, I mean, it just wasn’t happening for us. I mean, since they scored the first goal, it was just flat the whole game.”

OCB notched the first score of the match in the 20th minute. Midfielder Tony Rocha found Pierre da Silva at the top of Charlotte’s box. da Silva then slid the ball past the Independence’s defense to forward Albert Dikwa, who took one touch and scored in the back-right corner. That was da Silva’s fifth assist, tying him for most assists in the USL with the Charleston Battery’s Justin Portillo.

Man of the Match: Jorge Herrera

Herrera was involved in two of Charlotte’s goals. He assisted on the Independence’s second goal and scored their final one in the second half. Herrera finished with one shot (one on goal), completed 85.7 percent of his 21 passes and drew three fouls.

What’s next?

OCB will travel to face the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Saturday.

Orlando City B’s 3-game Clean-sheet Streak Ends

Entering Saturday’s bout with Charlotte, OCB was riding a four-game undefeated streak. In that streak, the USL side posted three shutouts. On Thursday before training, Pulis said his team was working more on its attacking play, as his defense had been playing well.

“We’ve worked a little bit more on our attacking play, I would say, ‘cus I felt like we…have been defending well,” Pulis said Thursday. “And we created some really good opportunities on the counterattack at Cincinnati and just our decision-making in the final third, final pass, final shot, kinda like little bit of cutting edge that you need in the final third.”

For next week, Pulis doesn’t see a change in how his team will train.

“We always work on our defending during the week,” Pulis said. “We try to periodize the week where we work on transitions, defending, attacking, set pieces. Whatever session we do or build throughout the week, we always try and cover all four corners. So it’ll be no different this week.”

Did OCB’s 2nd 2-week Break Play a Factor in Loss?

OCB entered Saturday’s match coming off its second two-week break in the month of May. Players were eager to play in a competitive match again, considering they were on a four-game undefeated streak.

For Deakin, the break before the Charlotte match isn’t an excuse.

“I mean, it’s difficult because you wanna keep that momentum from wins,” Deakin said. “But, you know, we had a break before the last game, two weeks, and we went to Cincinnati and won. So I can’t really say that’s a big factor. We’re training really well all week. You know, it’s just one of those days in football.”

Pulis was brief in reiterating a similar sentiment.

“None whatsoever. Because Charlotte have just come off exactly the same break,” he said.

Highlights

NDR Notes

  • da Silva notched his fifth assist of the season, tying him for most in the league.
  • Right-back Rafael Ramos played his first full match since returning from injury. His only other game this season was in a 2-0 win over FC Cincinnati, where he played 76 minutes.
  • This was Ramos’ first action in Orlando City Stadium.
  • Dikwa scored his third goal of the season.

Scoring

Time Team Goal-scorer Assisted by
20’ Orlando City B Albert Dikwa Pierre da Silva
40’ Charlotte Independence David Estrada Alex Martinez
45’ Charlotte Independence Enzo Martinez Jorge Herrera
51’ Charlotte Independence Jorge Herrera Joel Johnson

Statistics and Starting Lineups

Goals Assists Shots Shots on Goal Possession %
Orlando City B 1 1 8 3 57.1%
Charlotte Independence 3 3 9 5 42.9%

Orlando City B starting XI (4-4-1-1): Earl Edwards Jr. (GK); Kevin Alston, Conor Donovan, Zach Carroll, Rafael Ramos; Pierre da Silva, Tony Rocha, Lewis Neal (C), Danny Deakin; Richie Laryea; Albert Dikwa

Charlotte starting XI (4-2-3-1): Cody Mizell (GK); Donald Smith, Luke Waechter, Henry Kalungi, Joel Johnson; Jun Marques Davidson, Callum Ross; Enzo Martinez, Alex Martinez, David Estrada; Jorge Herrera (C)

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