After 90 minutes, there was not enough to separate Columbus Crew 2 from Orlando City B on Saturday night at Osceola Heritage Park. Following a draw in regulation, the Black & Gold on penalties to earn the extra point in the MLS NEXT Pro standings. This marked the fourth penalty shootout that Columbus has been involved in and the first penalty shootout win for Crew 2 after the Black & Gold made this a focus following too many losses in this format.
An eventful first half saw Orlando take the lead going into halftime. The scoring opened early for Columbus as wingback Mo Farsi intercepted a poor pass from Lions’ goalkeeper Javier Otero. Farsi played the ball in to forward Noah Fuson who immediately pass the ball back to Farsi at the penalty spot, Farsi was then pulled down and a penalty was awarded to Crew 2. Midfielder Isaiah Parente cooly took the penalty passed Otero to put the Black & Gold up 1-0 after only seven minutes.
It looked like Columbus might then run away with the game as the team continued to press Orlando and create chances. After about 20 minutes, OCB finally found the team’s footing in the game, attacking down the right flank through winger Neicer Acosta and taking advantage of the space between wingback Ryan Telfer and left center back Tristian Weber. Acosta was able to find plenty of space and serve in an uncontested cross to fellow winger Moises Tablante to equalize the game in the 19th minute.
Acosta and Tablante were able to connect again to trouble the Crew 2 defense in the 24th minute. Goalkeeper Patrick Schulte came off his line and all the way out of the penalty box to challenge Acosta who then found an on-rushing Tablante. The winger was not able to get his shot off on a wide-open goal as defender Abdi Mohamed fouled him to give Orlando a penalty kick, which was converted. Acosta had to be subbed off in 33rd minute for an injury.
The Black & Gold have had one of the stingiest defenses going into the game, but the first half of this match saw Columbus give up an uncharacteristic two goals and some questionable decisions by Schulte. The first half also saw three players booked for dissent and three more yellows for fouls.
Coming out in the second half, Crew 2 dominated the game, especially after the Lions received two late red cards, but was only able to score a single goal to bring the game even at 2-2. Winger Marco Micaletto finished a tight angle shot after he somehow maintained possession after a good tackle from Orlando.
Forward Ethan Subachan was sent off in the 85th minute for violent conduct. The referee originally gave a yellow, but consultation with the linesman upgraded it to a red. Subsequently, Tablante earned a second yellow for a late sliding tackle in the 90th minute.
The Black & Gold were unable to take advantage of this in regulation, but with the injury to Acosta and Subachan and Tablante being sent off, Orlando City B was left with only a single attacking player. This proved costly in the ensuing penalty shootout as OCB scored only once in five attempts. Orlando finished this match with seven yellow cards and one straight red.
With the two points awarded, Columbus moves ahead of Tacoma Defiance for first place, at least temporarily, in the MLS NEXT Pro standings with 44 points to Tacoma’s 43. Crew 2 failed to qualify for the playoffs with only two points from this match but sits 12 points above Toronto FC II in the Eastern Conference.
Columbus next faces Philadelphia Union II on Saturday, Aug. 27. This match from Lower.com Field will kick off at 5:30 p.m. ET.