Orlando City SC B Goals: Nabi Kibunguchy 21', 26'
New York City Football Club II Goals: Samuel Owusu 45', Nico Benalcazar 81'
New York City Football Club II earned a point on the road with a 2-2 draw at Orlando City SC B. The Boys in Blue battled back from two goals down to level the score late on, as Samuel Owusu and Nico Benalcazar struck to cancel out Nabi Kibunguchy's first-half double.
Both sides also had a man sent off with Owusu and Shakur Mohammed dismissed, before City missed a late penalty, and the home side bagged the bonus point with an 8-7 shoot-out win at Osceola Heritage Park.
Matt Pilkington's side headed into the clash on the back of successive wins over Atlanta United 2 and Toronto FC II, with two victories from our opening three MLS NEXT Pro fixtures.
Speaking ahead of the game, the Head Coach had highlighted Orlando as a progressive outfit in their style of play with a strong mix of young talent and experience. The Floridians had earned three triumphs from their first four games in 2023, falling 3-1 to Atlanta last time out.
Pilkington named another strong XI to travel to Kissimmee with five changes to the side that defeated Toronto. Midfielder Maximo Carrizo made his first appearance of the season.
The home side broke the deadlock on 21 minutes when Kibunguchy nodded home from close range, after Alexander Freeman had nipped in to head on Jorge Almaguer's delivery.
Five minutes later, the lead was doubled, as Kibunguchy showcased his aerial threat once more, rising to power Cristian Medina's corner past Alex Rando.
City responded to reduce the deficit before the break with a superb effort from Owusu, who unleashed an unstoppable volley into the back of the net from Johnny Denis' set-piece delivery on the brink of half-time.
The strike marked Owusu's first of the campaign, and Denis' tenth goal involvement in his last ten NYCFC II appearances.
A frantic final 20 minutes of action yielded two red cards, and missed penalty, but most importantly, a City fightback.
Owusu was red-carded for a second yellow card on 73 minutes, but the visitors rallied to find an equalizer with just over nine minutes of normal time remaining.
Captain Benalcazar reacted quickest to convert the rebound with a looping header for his first NYCFC II goal, after Denis' powerful long-range free-kick crashed back off the crossbar.
Mohammed was then sent off for the home side with a late lunge, and with just two minutes left on the clock, the City Boys were handed the chance to snatch victory from the spot, after Jack Beer was upended - only for Denis to drag his effort wide.
Ronald Arévalo also saw an effort ruled out in injury time in the last major action of a topsy-turvy contest, and the lottery of penalties would determine who took home the bonus point.
After three successful spot-kicks apiece, City shot-stopper Rando denied Moises Tablante, and Orlando 'keeper Javier Otero thwarted Matthew Myers.
Otero would make the key contribution however, diving to stop Christian McFarlane's low drive, and the home side claimed the extra point with a thrilling 8-7 shoot-out triumph.
“I thought the performance, given how we started the game, overall was very promising.
“To concede two away (from home) early on, then to rally and come back in the second half and create a lot of opportunities and have a lot of the ball, I thought was really positive overall and something that we can build on moving into next week.”
How We Lined Up
New York City Football Club II are back on home soil, facing Crown Legacy FC for the first time, at Belson Stadium on Sunday, April 30, 2023 in a 7:00pm ET kick-off.
Watch live on AppleTV and follow our official @NYCFCII Twitter page for updates.
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