Orlando City B takes on the Wilmington Hammerheads at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night at Titan Sports Complex in Melbourne in what will be the first of 30 regular-season games. With the excitement of the start of Orlando City's second MLS season and the hoopla surrounding the upcoming inaugural NWSL season for the Orlando Pride, it's understandable if brushing up on the USL side has flown under your radar.
We're here to change that. We've gone more in-depth elsewhere and will be covering the team throughout the season, but if you want a quick at-a-glance style preview of all you really need to know, well, simply read on...
Year founded: 2016.
Affiliation: Orlando City SC.
2015 record, standing in conference: N/A. This is the team's expansion year.
2015 playoffs: N/A. See above.
Key additions: Everyone, but especially Tony Rocha, William Eyang, Mikey Ambrose, Kyle Callan-McFadden, Michael Cox, Jonathan Mendoza, Mark Ridgers, Tyler Turner, and Dembakwi Yomba. There will be more key additions coming from the senior club in the forms of loan spells, as well.
Key departures: None.
Overview of team heading into season: Orlando City jumped into the "2" team pool with both feet in the off-season, creating reserve side Orlando City B, which will play in nearby Melbourne, FL, at Eastern Florida State College. The main focus for Head Coach Anthony Pulis will be on developing players and, while the team wants to be competitive and Pulis wants to win matches, the most important aspect of the team's existence is to prepare young players for potentially moving up to the senior squad. Orlando City B has put together a young roster of talented individuals, and the senior team's younger players are also expected to see time for OCB, as Adrian Heath wants his players to stay sharp, even if they can't get into the XI for MLS games. That means that guys like Harrison Heath, Conor Donovan, Bryan Rochez and others you've seen in MLS could suit up and see extended minutes of USL play. MLS and Orlando City veteran Lewis Neal was named team captain and he'll serve as an on-field player/coach for Pulis.
Why you should watch Orlando City B in 2016: Orlando City's stars of tomorrow are already on the OCB roster. Young players like 17-year-old Homegrown Player Pierre da Silva and goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar should see minutes in Melbourne. Players like Tony Rocha, Boxi Yomba and Kyle Callan-McFadden are old enough to potentially push senior team players for a spot in the near future.
3 Players to watch:
Tony Rocha: Due to injuries on the senior team, Rocha saw some time in preseason with the main club and played very well in the Lions' midfield; the 22-year-old is a potential MLS player in the very near future.
Conor Donovan: A defender who was pushing for playing time as a rookie last year, Donovan is coming off a torn ACL, but he was ahead of Tommy Redding in the center back rotation at the time of his injury. He may be weeks away from playing but should make an immediate impact when he gets into the lineup.
Michael Cox: An experienced attacking player, Cox played two seasons with the Portuguese second division and provides OCB with speed, strength and experience at the top of the formation.
The 2016 season will be a success if...Orlando City B makes the playoffs and fills Titan Soccer Complex each week. But, beyond those marks of success, if the team prepares players for emergency stints with the senior team and provides playing time for guys who aren't playing or can't make the senior team's 18, the club will consider it a successful season.
- For a more in-depth primer on Orlando City B, Robert Vega has you covered.
- Sean Rollins on what we've learned about OCB throughout this preseason.
- Follow Orlando City B on Twitter.
- Team's official Facebook page.
- Official team news.
- Team's official roster.
- How to purchase tickets for OCB games.
That's all you really need to know to start following OCB in 2016. The Mane Land will continue to cover the team all season long.