Futility, thy name is Orlando City B.
After what could be called a "shoot yourself in both feet" performance last Saturday night in a 1-0 loss at home to the Harrisburg City Islanders, OCB (0-3-1, 1 point) will take to the road still in search of its first ever victory tonight at Highmark Stadium against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds (0-1-1, 1 point). Kickoff will be at 7 p.m.
Last week's home loss to the Harrisburg City Islanders was something of a disaster for OCB. Red cards were shown to both Tony Rocha and Lewis Neal, forcing the Young Lions to finish the game down two men. Rocha's red card has been rescinded by the league, meaning he will be available for tonight's trip to the Steel City, but Neal wasn't so lucky. His second yellow -- which came in the dying minutes of the game -- has resulted in a one-game suspension for the 34-year-old veteran, but at least he got his money's worth:
To supplement the loss of Neal, the senior club has loaned down Harrison Heath and Hadji Barry to the B-side.
Also of note, 17-year-old midfielder Pierre da Silva, who played 10 minutes last week and is considered to be an up-and-comer in the Orlando City system, will be unavailable for tonight's match as he has been called into the U.S. U-19 Men's National Team for their tournament in Slovakia this week.
For their part, the home-standing Riverhounds are also in search of their first victory this season, though they'e had only two chances on the field to OCB's four. Last week, Pittsburgh battled back on the road to equalize two minutes into stoppage time for the 2-2 draw, with the game-tying goal coming from a Conor Branson free kick just outside the 18-yard box.
Last season, Pittsburgh squeaked into the playoffs in fifth place of the Eastern Conference with a record of 11-8-9, but bowed out in the first round to the New York Red Bulls II. They are led by head coach Mark Steffens, who is in his second year at the helm. Previously Steffens coached the Charlotte Eagles of the USL.
Last Week's Lineups
OCB: (4-4-2) Mark Ridgers; Tyler Turner, Kyle Callahan-McFadden, Craig Nitti, Devron Garcia; Johny Mendoza, Lewis Neal*, Tony Rocha, Richie Laryea, Bryan Rochez, Michael Cox
Pittsburgh Riverhounds: (4-3-3) RIchard Gilstrap; Jordan Murrel, Willie Hunt, Conor Branson, Nick Kolarac; Mike Green, Stephen Okai, Marshall Hollingsworth; Corey Hertzog, Zak Boggs, Romeo Parks
* Neal has been suspended for OCB's trip to Pittsburgh
Keys to Victory
- What's the formation?: It's no secret to observers of Orlando City that the club, through all levels of play, utilizes a 4-2-3-1 formation, but last week OCB Head Coach Anthony Pulis deployed two forwards in a 4-4-2. On the surface, this makes some sense as it allows for OCB to utilize both Michael Cox and Bryan Rochez. However, it steps out of the usual protocol for Orlando City teams, so be on the lookout for exactly what formation the players line up in tonight.
- Where are you Tyler Turner?: Like the formation, Tyler Turner has been moved around the back line quite a bit. We've seen him at both fullback positions as well as center back, so the question of where Pulis sees him playing remains. Also, the Harrisburg goal last week was scored by a player Turner was marking, putting him central in the plot. Consistent performances form the HGP will be key to OCB turning the ship around.
- Don't shoot yourself in the foot (again): Needless to say, red cards are never an ingredient in a winning recipe. Regardless of how you feel about Lewis Neal, his second yellow last week was a foul that was the result of frustration. No matter how far this current losing run goes, OCB must be able to maintain composure to secure victories, especially on the road.