Everyone by now knows that Orlando City B is the club's reserve team and is more about development than results. However, now that the preseason is over and OCB is looking forward to Saturday night's opener against the Wilmington Hammerheads, what have we learned about this team heading into the season?
They're Strong in the Back
OCB has proven during this preseason that one of the team's strongest points is the defense. This is led by the two outside defenders in Tyler Turner on the right and Mikey Ambrose on the left. Both have shown their ability to get forward to be involved in the attack, but also the ability to remember their defensive responsibilities. Akron product Zach Ellis-Hayden is currently the backup to Ambrose but has shown great ability in the minutes he's played.
While the center back position is less defined, with Kyle Callan-McFadden being the most notable central defender, there is another on his way. Conor Donovan was selected No. 22 overall by Orlando City in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft. While a strong center back with tons of potential, he's stuck behind Seb Hines, Tommy Redding, David Mateos, and Aurelien Collin in the first team. This means Donovan will likely see the majority of his time with OCB. However, it remains to be seen when Donovan will return, given he's still recovering from a torn ACL suffered last August.
They're Good Playing Through the Midfield
One area where OCB has a wealth of talent is in the midfield. Harrison Heath and 2016 first-round pick Richie Laryea will probably spend quite a bit of time at OCB this season as the first team players are stuck behind more experience with the senior side. Honduran youth international Devron Garcia has also shown a lot of upside since joining the team and could become a key player for OCB.
On the left side, Homegrown Player Pierre da Silva has been very impressive this preseason playing with Ambrose. At just 17 years of age, da Silva has continued to move up the U.S. national team youth ranks and is seen as a player for the future. Most Orlando City fans didn't know Tony Rocha but that changed this preseason. After impressing early, Rocha earned himself plenty of time with the first team during preseason and while he may end up on the first team sooner rather than later, he'll be a key player for OCB in 2016.
Striker is TBD
Due to the fact that OCB is a developmental squad for the club, it will play Adrian Heath's formation, which includes just one striker. However, who that striker is remains uncertain. The first few preseason games the team primarily used Michael Cox and Keegan Smith. But on Saturday against Eastern Florida State College, William Eyang got the nod. Cox and Eyang seem to have the advantage, as their size is ideal for the system, but there's another wrinkle. While he may be on the first team's bench for much of the season, Bryan Rochez will not unseat Orlando City's number nine, Cyle Larin. Rochez is a Young Designated Player for Orlando City and played superbly in the role of super-sub late last season. There's no reason to think that Rochez may be the main striker for OCB throughout much of 2016 but that remains uncertain.
On Saturday OCB will host the Wilmington Hammerheads in the team's first game of its inaugural USL season. In some areas we have learned a lot about how much talent is in this team. But there are also some questions regarding the team heading into the season opener. It's difficult to tell too much when we've mainly seen them play college teams, but heading into the opening game, this is what we do know.