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Orlando City B Faces Familiar Learning Curve at the Start of 2017

An infusion of loanees from the MLS side has thrown OCB’s lineup for a bit of a loop, but Head Coach Anthony Pulis believes his side will work through the early struggles.

Matt Starkey, The Mane Land

Orlando City B’s starting lineup for its game on Saturday was vastly different from the team last year. Only five returning starters suited up for the B team with the rest being either loanees from the MLS side or new to the team this year.

The loanees; Earl Edwards Jr., Kevin Alston, Tommy Redding, Conor Donovan, PC, Richie Laryea, Danny Deakin, and Pierre Da Silva, have mostly been training with the MLS side for up until the week of the first match.

Donovan, Laryea, and Da Silva spent most, if not all of last year with OCB, with Edwards, Redding, and Hadji Barry being loaned down occasionally to get minutes.

Lewis Neal and Michael Cox both returned as OCB starters, with former Orlando City U-23 midfielder Paul Clowes getting the start in his first game with the USL side.

The starters from Saturday have trained together, for the most part, for just over a week total. For OCB Head Coach Anthony Pulis, it’s no excuse for his team.

“It’s not easy. I’m not gonna stand there and moan and groan about it,” Pulis said after the game Saturday. “It is what it is. This is the dynamic of this group. Yes, we’ve had a group of players working with us for five and a half weeks, and then you get a substantial amount for two or three days before the season. It’s not ideal. But it is what it is. We just have to get on with it.”

Pulis and his staff dealt with the struggles of having players loaned up and down constantly throughout last season. The USL team was mired in tough results early in the year, with lineups changing almost every other week due to loans from the MLS side, but the team managed to make a push for the playoffs in the late summer months to crack the eighth seed into the postseason.

“It’s learning,” said Pulis. “There’s a lot of young guys out there that haven’t played substantial professional games, so it’s probably an eye-opener for some of them coming into this environment tonight.”

In this specific instance, something that Pulis said back in August of last year rings true for this OCB team right now.

“The results weren't obviously great, but I'm a big believer if the performances are good consistently, that the results will be a byproduct of good performances,” he stated. “We're by no means the finished product. We still have an awful lot of work to do and things to improve on, but it was pleasing to see some of the guys take on board the bits and pieces that we've been working on the training ground."