I have seen some complaints online that Anthony Pulis isn’t doing a very good job as coach of Orlando City B. True, the young Lions aren’t near the top of the USL standings, and that doesn’t sit well with some. However, I contend that he is doing an excellent job in developing Orlando City’s future.
What is his “real” job?
Ant’s real job is to take the players he has on OCB and get them ready to play for the MLS squad. This means that player development is his primary concern — even above winning. Let me be clear, I’m not saying that he is sacrificing wins for any particular player. Nor am I saying that he and the players are not giving it their all each and every game. Of course they are. But, it does mean that during games he is also working on their situational awareness, their set piece skills, their passing, and on and on. Yes they work on that during practice, but also during matches.
So what is the evidence that he’s doing that? Players such as Earl Edwards Jr., Victor “PC” Giro, Léo Pereira, Richie Laryea, Pierre Da Silva, and Hadji Barry, have all made appearances with the MLS squad, which is exactly what is supposed to eventually happen. That’s not to dismiss the improvement from other players such as Albert Dikwa, Austin Martz, Joe Gallardo, Jordan Schweitzer, and Zach Carroll.
Dealing with roster changes
As the coach of OCB, Pulis has to deal with an ever-changing roster. If the MLS squad wants to borrow Da Silva, Barry, or Edwards, guess what? That’s what happens and Ant has to make adjustments. If the senior squad is on a break and needs some players to get some playing time in order to work on some part of their game or just stay match fit, then that is what happens. That’s all in addition to managing injuries, development needs, and player minutes. It’s a logistical nightmare, but you won’t ever hear Pulis complain about it because he knows that is a part of the job.
In the last six games, Orlando City B has six results. Granted five of them were draws, but they were against some stiff competition. First came the win on the road against the Rochester Rhinos, then draws against FC Cincinnati, Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Tampa Bay Rowdies, and top of the conference Charleston Battery. Additionally, for the last three of those games he was without Da Silva due to suspension and without Laryea, who has been with the first team. And then there was the draw against Harrisburg City Islanders just last night. This could be just a good run of form, or it could be that he has developed these players into a squad that at this point in the season is starting to find success.
As much as we all want OCB to be successful in the standings, what is most important is that the players on the squad continue to improve so that they are ready for the senior squad.