Less than a week after the news broke that Anthony Pulis’s side had signed Zach Carroll, Scott Thomsen, and Fernando Timbo as reinforcements along the back line, Orlando City B announced that it has also signed midfielders Paul Clowes, Austin Martz, and Jordan Schweitzer, as well as forward Ben Polk. All four players are 24 years old or younger.
“Ben has a fantastic work ethic and presses really well, which will be important to us,” Pulis said of Polk in a club press release. “He is a very good finisher and has genuine potential to be a big player for us.”
The 5-foot-9 forward was selected by the Portland Timbers with the 20th pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft. Polk, 24, made 25 USL appearances for Timbers 2 this past season, netting one goal in his rookie campaign. Prior to that, the striker had last been seen scoring 12 goals and adding five assists for Syracuse University.
Schweitzer, 22, joins OCB from Seattle Sounders FC 2 after a solid start to his professional career. The Washington state native finished 2016 as the team’s third leading scorer with four goals and also pitched in two assists in his 22 appearances.
“Jordan had a great year in Seattle and we fought off a lot of competition to land him,” Pulis said in the club release. “He’s a strong, competitive player who has a great range of passing.”
As you can see in the first portion of Schweitzer’s college highlight film, the range of passing Pulis mentioned, along with his vision, consistently allowed his teammates more time and space on the ball.
After wrapping up his collegiate career at Georgetown University, Martz followed his dream to Pembroke Athleta FC where he played in its first-ever season in the Maltese Premier League in 2015-2016. In 2016, however, Martz wrapped up his first season with the Wilmington Hammerheads as the team’s third leading scorer with four goals.
“Austin is a very quick and dynamic wide midfielder who is excellent in 1-v-1 situations,” Pulis said in a release. “He will give us a different attacking outlet and will certainly be a threat to the opposition’s back line.”
Martz, 24, displays a work ethic to press high up the pitch, run in behind the back line, take players on, and contribute for the full 90 minutes. He has the ability to beat players off the dribble, with his pace alone, or via creative runs to get into dangerous positions.
Clowes, 22, rejoins the Orlando City SC family after a previous stint with the U-23 team. In 2016, the savvy midfielder spent the majority of his time with the Charlotte Independence, although he made his professional debut on March 26 for the Richmond Kickers.
Before taking his game to the college level at Clemson University, Clowes was spending time with Manchester City as a member of their academy. In four years at Clemson, he found the back of the net four times in 86 appearances while earning All-ACC First Team, College Cup All-Tournament Team, and ACC Midfielder of the Year honors in his 2015 senior season.
“Paul is a very efficient distributor of the ball. He understands his role within the team very well and has excellent leadership qualities,” Pulis said in the club release.
While much had been made of Orlando City’s leaky defense in 2016, Jason Kreis and his staff seem poised to not only improve defensively but impose their will on teams with possession and creativity in the final third.
Clowes and Schweitzer could impact the OCB squad in possession immediately. Both possess composure on the ball as well as great passing range and vision. Martz will add a new dimension to the attack from wide areas, causing more concern for opposing teams, and Polk will not only apply pressure to the back line in the attack, but will efficiently look to win the ball back when possession is lost or teams look to build out of the back.