Great energy to kick off the OCB USL campaign on Saturday night!
The lightning delay did put a "damper" on things, but a good proportion of the crowd stuck around, and a big shout out to the supporters – the Harbor City Hooligans (HCH) and the Ruckus/ILF who made the trip to rep the Wall in Melbourne. Really brought plenty of enthusiasm and intensity, although like the team itself, some work to do on coordinating the effort over 90 minutes…but that’s what the season’s for, right?!
While we’re on the supporters – two solid thumbs up to HCH for the tifo!!! Great way to kick off the year, and Annie the Dragon was a cool and very authentic Harbor City touch. (For all the non-Melbourne locals scratching your heads – go look up "Merritt Island Dragon" and you’ll be up to speed). For those who weren't there in person, there's a (very) brief glimpse of the HCH tifo on the recording of the YouTube feed just before kick-off. Doesn't nearly do it justice though...
On the game itself: Overall, a lot of positives for a first(-ever!) competitive game – controlled through the middle of the pitch pretty well, and OCB do play noticeably the same style as the MLS squad (short passes, possession-focused ball handling, attacking up the wings with overlapping fullbacks) – though things did break down in the final third for sure. OCB didn’t get nearly as many good shots/looks as would think we should for the possession we held (when have I ever heard that before !?!) The team is clearly still getting to know each other at this point.
Also some work to do on service on set pieces, esp. the corners – most OCB corners (with a couple notable exceptions) were WELL high (I know the new CB Nitti is 6’5", but let’s be reasonable here!). Central defense was generally pretty solid, good to see for early in the year.
Andrew Ribeiro took his goal well (and it had been coming for a while at that point in the game). Props to Andrew also for the Dwyer-esque backflip to celebrate his (and OCB’s) first goal! Hopefully he’ll emulate more than just Dom’s goal celebration this year. Earl Edwards Jr. was generally pretty solid in goal too - a couple of somewhat tentative sallies off his line excepted, but generally cleaned things up well. Wilmington's second (game-winning) goal in particular was off a recycled ball from way outside and a solid hit to the far post. Hard to fault Earl much for that one.
Although we didn’t get a result in the end, a lot of positives and development of our younger cohort of players to look forward to. For those interested in the future of OCSC, who live near the coast, or who want to take in the beach AND some soccer, highly recommend making the trip to Melbourne/EFSC at least once this year (or more!).
Overall ambiance was nice, access to the field is a work in progress (some construction around) but the experience felt like a lower-key version of the 2014 field – intimate and family-friendly, with plenty of room to raucus with the supporters at the south end if you’re into that sort of thing. Word to the wise – BYOB for the tailgate though – no beer (yet) sold on-site in the concessions.
Looking forward to a great season, and renewing some blood feuds against old (and new) rivals in the USL - the Battery come to town this Friday, and Richmond and Louisville City should be great matches too!
#TheFutureIsPurple and it's a good thing...