Behind goals from David Estrada, Enzo Martinez and Jorge Herrera, the Charlotte Independence (3-2-2, 11 points) defeated Orlando City B 3-1 on Saturday at Orlando City Stadium.
“For 40 minutes it was probably the best we’ve played… well, since I’ve been in charge of OCB to be honest,” said OCB head coach Anthony Pulis. “The football was sharp, we moved really well, passing was crisp, we got plays in good places, between lines and lots of efforts to goal. I thought there was only one team that was going to go in and win it.”
The OCB Lions took a 1-0 lead in the 20th minute when Pierre da Silva’s assist connected with Albert Dikwa to convert a right-footed shot for Orlando’s first and only goal of the night.
Charlotte’s Estrada netted a left-footed shot assisted by Martinez, from the center of the box to the bottom-right corner to equalize the score at the 40th minute. Five minutes later Martinez himself scored a goal of his own, giving the Jack’s their first lead of the night before halftime.
In the 51st minute, Herrera headed a cross from Joel Johnson to the top-left corner of the box lifting the score to 3-1 over OCB.
“We just went out there and wanted to start the second half like we started the first, because for 35 minutes we played really well, probably the best football we’ve played all season, but it just wasn’t happening for us,” shared forward Danny Deakin. “Since they scored in the first half it was just flat the whole game. I can’t put my finger on it right now, but I guess we just have to go to the drawing board and look at video and regroup from there.”
In the first half, OCB (3-4-3, 12 points) created six scoring opportunities versus only two shots made by Charlotte, and held 56.2 percent of possession over Charlotte’s 43.7 percent.
“When I go back over it in my head, I think the goalkeeper made some really good saves to be honest. It was one of those things, I don’t honestly think there’s anything that sticks to my mind as to why we didn’t score. Again, we talk about it a lot, decision making in the final third, maybe making a quicker decision, and we spoke to the guys about maybe limiting touches in and around the box,” Pulis commented on missed opportunities. “Because if you start taking four, five, six touches it allows more defense to get around the ball, so we talked to them about speed of play, try to get the touches to one, two, three, moving it quickly because that’s what gets us success.”
The OCB Lions are now up against a tighter schedule, starting with a trip to Pittsburgh to face the Riverhounds on Saturday at 7 p.m. before returning for a home game on Wednesday June 7 at 7:30 p.m. against the Rochester Rhinos.
But for Pulis, it’s time to regroup and move forward.
“It wasn’t to be so we’ll dust ourselves down, we’ll debrief the game, go through the positives and the negatives and prepare for what will be a really difficult game on the road at Pittsburgh this week.”
Orlando City B – GK Earl Edwards Jr., Rafael Ramos, Zach Carroll, Connor Donovan, Kevin Alston (45’ Zachary Ellis-Hayden), Lewis Neal, Tony Rocha, Danny Deakin (81’ David Loera), Richie Laryea (57’ Michael Cox), Pierre da Silva, Albert Dikwa
Substitutes: Michael Cox, Jake Fenlason, Moussa Sane, Zachary Ellis-Hayden, Jordan Schweitzer, Austin Martz, David Loera
Charlotte Independence – GK Cody Mizell, Henry Kalungi, Luke Waechter, Joel Johnson, Donald Smith, Jun Marques Davidson, Callum Ross, Alex Martinez (71’ Yann Ekra), David Estrada (77’ David Spies), Enzo Martinez, Jorge Herrera (83’ Lewis Hilton)
Substitutes: Lewis Hilton, Jaime Siaj, Dennis Castillo, Casey Townsend, Yann Ekra, David Spies, Kyle Renfro
(Photo by New Day Review / Victor Tan)