Orlando City B fell to the Richmond Kickers Thursday, ending the team’s 12-game unbeaten streak. The run dated back to June 23 and included four wins and eight draws. A big part of OCB is developing players for the first team and we learned quite a bit about the young Lions during their run. Here are five things we learned about OCB during the unbeaten streak.
Definite Path to MLS
If anyone was questioning that you could reach the first team with good play in the USL, those fears have been put to rest. Richie Laryea’s strong play at the beginning of the season saw him called up to the first team, where he has continued to stay. During this unbeaten streak, Hadji Barry had become the second player this season to make the team sheet with the senior team. It could easily be presumed that being sent down to the reserve team could see you get lost, especially since reserve teams are relatively new to MLS teams. But these call-ups have proven otherwise.
Pierre Da Silva Must Learn Self-Control
The most exciting young player for Orlando City is 19-year-old midfielder Pierre Da Silva. After coming through the academy and joining OCB last year, Da Silva has shown tremendous skill and a willingness to take defenders on. He’s certain to be a mainstay in the first team’s starting lineup for years to come. However, this year he has shown discipline issues which must be corrected. Da Silva has been suspended twice in 2017 with bad tackles due to frustration and both occurrences happened during this streak.
Earl Edwards, Jr. is a Starting Goalkeeper
Earl Edwards, Jr. was drafted by Orlando City in 2015 out of UCLA. His first two professional seasons, he spent the majority of his time backing up Tally Hall and Joe Bendik, but this year he was sent to gain starting experience with OCB. Edwards has been spectacular this year with the young Lions and was recently called up to play for the first team with backup Josh Saunders going down for the year. He proved that, whether it’s in Orlando or elsewhere, the 25-year-old goalkeeper is definitely worthy of starting in MLS.
Despite his call-up, which has left him absent from OCB the last few games, Edwards is still second in the USL in clean sheets at nine. He’s fourth in the league in saves at 75. He was also named the USL Player of the Month for August, despite not playing in the final two OCB games of the month due to his call-up. Not too shabby.
There are Some Good Strikers at OCB
The forward position has been a problem for Orlando City this season, but it’s not a problem for OCB. Hadji Barry has seen much of the attacking acclaim at OCB, scoring a team-leading eight goals, but his call-up to the first team has shown the emergence of two other forwards. Michael Cox led the team last year with 11 goals but was stuck behind Barry this year. In his first game back, he scored a brace against first-place Louisville City, proving last year was not a fluke.
A lesser known striker is Albert Dikwa. The teenager came to OCB from Montverde Academy just outside of Orlando and has shown the strength and ability that could make him a first-team striker in the future. Adding to Dikwa’s advantage is the fact that Orlando City can sign him to a Homegrown contract since he came from within its territory.
The Future of Central Defense is at OCB
The position that has caused the most trouble for Orlando City this year has been in central defense. While Jonathan Spector has been terrific, finding his partner has been a struggle. Tommy Redding, Jose Aja, and Leo Pereira have all failed to make their mark on Jason Kreis’ starting lineup. At OCB, 2017 has been a strong year for the central defenders. 2015 draft pick Conor Donovan looked to be making his mark with the first team during his rookie year before suffering a knee injury, but has come back strong with OCB. Fernando Timbo has played at center back and in the midfield, showing that he could be a versatile, and valuable, player in the future.
OCB’s 12-game unbeaten streak wasn’t just a positive during a disappointing season for the senior team, but it also showed what fans have to look forward to in the future. While Barry and Edwards, Jr. made the jump to the first team, others showed they may follow suit in the coming years. In addition to the streak itself, OCB’s unbeaten run showed there is plenty for Orlando City fans to be excited about.