When Orlando City decided to end its on-field partnership with Louisville City FC last season to pursue fielding its own USL side in Melbourne, the club had one goal in mind: player development.
Many MLS clubs have set up their own USL sides with the hope of being able to send down young players who are struggling to get playing time with the first team. In Louisville, Orlando City was rarely able to use its USL affiliate due to the injuries and suspensions that hit the team throughout the season.
With OCB, things have changed.
On Friday, the Lions announced seven loans from Orlando City to OCB for Saturday's game against the Wilmington Hammerheads. While four of those loanees were only currently scheduled to be in Melbourne for the team's opening match, three players -- Tyler Turner, Bryan Rochez, and Mason Stajduhar -- were sent on season-long loans.
"This is just one example of the benefits that Orlando City B provides us," OCSC Head Coach Adrian Heath said in a club release. "These guys will be playing valuable minutes in a system that matches ours. I can't stress how important that will be for their development as players."
For Rochez and Turner, being able to spend the entire season in USL is a big opportunity that they otherwise might not have had if things were anything like last season.
Rochez was signed as a promising star for Orlando City. A Young Designated Player out of Honduras, Rochez has yet to gain a foothold with the Lions' first team, struggling to stay fit for the most part while missing a large chunk of time last year due to passport issues following the U-20 World Cup, as well as this preseason with a quad injury. Rochez is only in the second year of a five-year contract with Orlando City, leaving plenty of time left to right the ship with the 21-year-old, and a full season of action with OCB could be what finally gets him on track and back into Orlando City's long-term plans after 2016.
As for Turner, he's another young player that didn't get to see nearly enough time in 2015. A U.S. youth national teamer, Turner only made seven appearances for Orlando City last season. He's a Homegrown Player and one with real promise and potential to be one of the best right backs in MLS in due time.
With Rafael Ramos already shining for the club, it's been tough for Turner to break into the starting lineup. Like most guys, he needs minutes. Turner took some steps forward for the Lions in USL in 2014, but never saw the opportunity to take another big step last season. He's a player I would love to see develop, and OCB provides that opportunity for him.