clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Losing Orlando City B Would Eliminate Club’s European Pyramid Structure

There are many on-the-field benefits of OCB, but there’s one off-the-field benefit that’d be missed if the team folded.

Nick Leyva, The Mane Land

Last week, rumors circulated that Orlando City would fold its USL side, Orlando City B. The club seems to have put those rumors to rest by announcing its commitment to the USL, but it brings to mind the benefits of having OCB.

The purpose of creating OCB was to develop young players and give minutes to players not seeing the field for the first team. Another added benefit was finding some additional talent for the first team, like Tony Rocha and Mikey Ambrose in 2016. Off the field, there’s another benefit of a reserve team.

Due to the single-entity structure of MLS, the teams are owned by the league, which denies them both autonomy and individuality. Even though the clubs and their fans have done their best to create separate identities, the league setup is still painfully obvious.

Given soccer’s stop-start history in this country, there’s very little to look back on compared to other countries. The oldest clubs in MLS date back just over 20 years.

It’s easy to look at other countries with envy of what they have. Their clubs were often founded by workers, students, or communities rather than businessmen. They’ve been around from 50 to over 100 years and some countries even feature fan ownership. American teams don’t have those things, but, with the academy, OCB, and the first team, there’s one thing Orlando City has in common: structure.

In the biggest soccer countries in the world, the first division clubs have a well-established structure: academy, reserve team, and first team. Orlando City has had a full academy from ages 8 to 18 since 2012, and even a sort of reserve team with Orlando City U-23. Now a first division team, City has the full club pyramid.

When OCB was announced, the name received mixed reviews. While some loved that the team shared the club brand, others wanted something different. Calling the team Orlando City B, and making the logo as close to the first team and academy as possible, gave the indication that it was one club rather than an affiliate. It gave Orlando City something the big clubs of the world have.

If you go to countries like Holland, Germany, or Spain, you’ll find reserve teams playing in the lower leagues, just like here. While not all, many of those teams have the same identities as the rest of the club with the separation showing in names like Jong, II, or B depending on the country.

Orlando City could make the decision to go with the hybrid setup like other clubs have, citing the expenses of operating its own USL team. Whether it would benefit the club as much on the field is still unknown. If it did go with an affiliate or hybrid, it wouldn’t really be a part of the club.

While not as important as what happens on the field, it’s pretty cool for fans to be able to look at their club and see it has the same structure as Bayern Munich or FC Barcelona. In addition to the trouble losing OCB would likely be for the team, such as reserve players not being able to train with the first team, it would also eliminate a piece of the club fans can truly be proud of.