As we count down to the new year of 2019 – which will be Orlando City SC’s fifth in MLS and Orlando Pride’s fourth in the NWSL – and say goodbye to 2018, it’s time to look back at the club’s 10 best moments of the year.
OK, so we probably spoiled that this would be one of Orlando City SC’s top 10 moments of the year on Sunday when our No. 10 slot was occupied by the hiring of Oguchi Onyewu. However, since we’re here, let’s do this.
After a year’s hiatus for Orlando City B, OCSC announced that the developmental side would re-launch for 2019 in the USL’s new Division III league, which is now known as USL League One. The announcement that OCB would return in 2019 came on Sept. 6.
OCB was always going to be an important part of the overall OCSC structure, but it was used much differently the first time around. Orlando City did not simply use the squad to get young players professional experience and develop them for the first team, although it was used for that purpose. It was also used as a place for first-team players recovering from injuries or who hadn’t seen much action to get game minutes to keep them sharp. As a result of these conflicting ideas, former OCB coach Anthony Pulis was forced to use ever-changing lineups and the club filled in the roster with other young players who either showed promise or who had not been able to make their mark elsewhere.
The new OCB will be an extension of the club’s academy. As such, games for the re-launched USL team will be played at Montverde Academy in a renovated stadium with expanded capacity to seat between 1,500 and 2,000 people.
“The idea behind OCB is really, you know you get to a point in the academy level where you get to the U-19 [team] and then the question becomes, similar to everywhere else in the country, ‘Where do I go from here if I have a dream to be a pro?’” OCB GM Mike Potempa said.
“Most kids go to college, which is fine, but we want to provide an avenue through OCB to where there’s a professional team on the campus that the academy players can see every day, training and playing, seeing some of their own promoted into that to provide the step between academy and MLS first team.
OCB will no longer be a place for first-team players to get game minutes or those recovering from injury to work back into game shape, as was the case in the past. Instead, OCB will strictly be a link for young players between the development academy and the first team. The first two signings reflect that new approach, with the team adding 17-year-old Jordan Bender and 15-year-old Luc Granitur. These are players who the team’s technical staff believe have the potential to become MLS players down the line.
A renewed commitment to OCB is an important development in the club’s growth. It’s a shame the reorganization was necessary to begin with, but now that the plan for the restructuring is in place, the Lions can move forward and build a proper path from the academy to the first team that successful clubs like the New York Red Bulls and FC Dallas have built. OCB General Manager Mike Potempa and coach Fernando Jose De Argila Irurita have gotten things started and it will be interesting to see how it’s built.
Because of its importance to the club’s future, the re-launch of OCB is worthy of being a part of our top 10 moments of 2018.
Come back through New Year’s Eve as we count down the remainder of Orlando City’s top 10 moments of 2018.
Previous Top 10 Moments of 2018
10. OCSC hires Oguchi Onyewu as OCB’s new technical director.
9. Orlando City bolsters defense with Carlos Ascues and Shane O’Neill in the summer window.