Orlando City U23s Draw 1-1
Lions concede early, battle back to secure crucial point
Plant City, Fla.— The Orlando City U23s (7-4-2, 23 points) drew 1-1 with VSI Tampa Bay (5-2-5, 20 points) on Saturday, July, 13, in a match vital to their playoff hopes. The young Lions conceded early in the match but equalized shortly afterward to secure a crucial point.
The Lions fielded a new line up to begin the match, after losing several key starters who were called back by their universities. As a result, the newly comprised squad’s lack of cohesiveness was evident in their play in the opening minutes of the game.
In the 5th minute, VSI took advantage of City sending numerous players forward and Forward Steven Salinas sent a penetrating long ball deep into the U23s territory. Fellow Striker Ricardo Webb got on the end of Salinas’ service and headed the ball into the back of the net to give VSI a 1-0 lead.
However, the U23s would settle in and coordinate a bit of momentum to equalize the match in the 15th minute, when Midfielder Michael Annarumma whipped a dangerous cross into the box. Annarumma’s service found Tyler Blackwood, who volleyed a screamer past VSI Goalkeeper Brenton Muhammad. Blackwood’s equalizer gives the Englishman his 13th goal on the season, making him the Premier Development League’s (PDL) leading goal scorer.
Shortly afterward, the U23s momentum continued when the Lions were awarded a penalty kick in the 25th minute of play. However, Muhammad guessed the right way and saved Blackwood’s attempt to keep the match level midway through the first half.
The second half began with both sides playing tactically sound soccer in an effort to prevent either club from scoring. As the half progressed, the U23s would begin to fluidly move the ball around the field, and as a result, created opportunities to go ahead in the match.
In the 72nd minute, Orlando came close to moving ahead in the match when Defender Michael Millay ventured on bursting run deep into VSI’s half. Millay combined with Fubara and clipped the ball into the box for Blackwood, who saw his header go just over the bar.
In light of Blackwood’s chance, Lions’ Head Coach Paul Shaw made several substitutions to provide the U23s with fresh legs.
One of these substitutions included Orlando City Youth Soccer (OCYS) Development Academy player Tristan Rehrig. Rehrig was first OCYS player to appear for the U23s and was the youngest player on the pitch, when the midfielder entered in the 89th minute. However, Shaw’s changes to the squad would have a minimal effect and the match would finish with a 1-1 draw.
The draw against VSI places the U23s playoff hopes in question, as the Panama City Beach Pirates (8-2-1, 25 points) and the Ocala Stampede (8-3-0, 24 points) currently hold an advantage in points and games played. The Stampede will play their next match against Southwest Florida Adrenaline and can secure the final playoff berth with a victory.
The Lions next and final regular season match will be played at Seminole Soccer Complex on Thursday, July 18, against Fort Lauderdale Schulz Academy. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Source: Orlando City Soccer Media