If OCB comes out frustrated following last week's performance, Harrisburg might want to duck and cover.
Orlando City B (0-2-1, 1 point) -- on the heels of a 4-1 drubbing suffered at the hands of Louisville City FC on the road last week -- returns home to Melbourne to take on the Harrisburg City Islanders (0-2-0, 0 points) tonight at 7:30 at the Titan Soccer Complex. The game pits two desperate teams, with the home side looking for its first win of the young season while the visitors will be looking for their first points.
Harrisburg is coming off of an unexpected bye week that was due to a snowstorm that postponed the Islanders' rivalry tilt with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds until July. Prior to that, the tied-for-last-place Islanders lost both of their first two games on the road -- to Richmond, 3-2, and Charlotte, 2-1.
Bill Becher has coached Harrisburg since the team's inaugural season in 2004. Last season, the Islanders narrowly missed out on the postseason by just two points, finishing in the eighth position in the USL's Eastern Conference.
Last Week's Lineups
OCB (4-2-3-1): Mark Ridgers; Zachary Ellis-Hayden, Tyler Turner, Craig Nitti, Mikey Ambrose; Lewis Neal, Jonathan Mendoza; Andrew Ribeiro, Keegan Smith, RIchie Laryea; Michael Cox.
Harrisburg (3-4-3): Nick Noble; Shane Johnson, Shawn McLaws, Dante Leverock; Bobby Warshaw, Josh Hughes, Jose Barril, Paul Wilson; James Thomas, Aaron Wheeler, Craig Foster
Keys to Victory
- Michael Cox's development: Last week's starting striker, Michael Cox, got OCB on the board inside the first five minutes of the game. After the match, Head Coach Anthony Pulis was very pleased with his performance, so expect Cox to get the start for the second week in a row. The 23-year-old Calgary native put the ball away with a first-time left footed finish at the end of a slick passing move that included a Richie Laryea backheel for the assist. Creating depth from the forwards is, you'd think, a major assignment for the B team, so Cox's good showing last week had to be seen as a positive development by everyone at the club.
- Sort out the defense: Last week, Louisville City just pounded OCB's outside backs with crosses into the box and constant pressure from the wings. Defensively, OCB looked leaky at best, letting in four goals for the first time. Tyler Turner, despite his MLS HGP pedigree, didn't show up particularly well and his growth will be on the mind of Pulis. Expect a more focused performance from the OCB back line against a Harrisburg attack that has score three goals this season in two games.
- Score from a set piece: Last week against Louisville, OCB pulled off two of the most creative set pieces which I've seen in the USL. The first was a hidden ball trick, where a player tapped a corner into play and then jogged away from the ball as if a change of plan was in the works, only to have Richie Laryea walk over and take the ball into the box aggressively while completely undefended. The other was from a free kick outside the box, where an OCB player posted up on the end of the wall, and then peeled off towards goal after the free kick was redirected towards him on the ground. Both instances exemplify that OCB is working on set pieces, and it would be a big step towards a victory if the young Lions can take such creativity and turn it into a goal.
How To Watch
You can watch tonight's game on the official USL YouTube page, or at orlandocitysc.com/live. With OCB's return home, you will have the luxury (a USL luxury, anyway) of listening to a well done broadcast led by the play-by-play of Jeff Radcliffe. Just look at his level of research:
Fans of other USL teams everywhere are green with envy over that level of professionalism.