As we count down to the new year of 2020 — which will be Orlando City’s sixth in MLS, OCB’s second in USL League One, and the Orlando Pride’s fifth in the NWSL — and say goodbye to 2019, it’s time to look back at the club’s 10 best moments of the year.
During the 2015 MLS season, Orlando City announced that it would create a second team that would play in the United Soccer League. Named Orlando City B. The team played its first season at Eastern Florida State College in Melbourne. It returned for a second season in 2017 — at Orlando City (now Exploria) Stadium — before taking a year off as it waited for the new third-division league, USL League One, to launch.
In 2016 and 2017, OCB’s purpose was to create a place for MLS players who weren’t receiving minutes to play. The rest of the spots were primarily made up of career USL players. However, academy contracts to players like David Loera, David Norris, and Raul Aguilera provided a glimpse of what was to come for the young side.
Following the 2017 season, Head Coach Anthony Pulis departed for Saint Louis FC and most of the players were released. At that point, rumors started circulating that Orlando City got rid of its second team. Eventually, the club came out and announced that OCB would not play in 2018, officially going on hiatus.
In September of 2018, the club officially announced the return of OCB. The team moved down to the third division, which the club said better fit with its goal of providing a place for academy products to play until ready for an MLS contract.
The 2019 version of OCB was run by the club’s affiliation with Montverde Academy. Mike Potempa, who ran the academy and coached the PDL’s SIMA Aguilas in 2018, became the club’s general manager. The club brought eight players up from the academy, with the youngest being 16-year-old Luc Granitur.
While it was a tough year on the field for OCB, it was a welcome sight for Orlando City fans. The ability to produce your own Homegrown Players is key to success for smaller-market teams, as seen in the success of FC Dallas. The future of OCB was secured when the club hired Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi. The 50-year-old was previously at FC Dallas and helped create the “play your kids” culture in MLS.
After being absent for more than a year, OCB made its return to the field on March 30, 2019 in a 3-1 loss to FC Tucson at Montverde Academy. While the Young Lions didn’t experience much success on the field, the team’s return was a big step in the right direction. This off-season, the club signed former academy and OCB players David Loera and Jordan Bender to MLS Homegrown Player deals.
Orlando City has struggled mightily in developing first team talent through its academy. With OCB providing a place for young players, the number of Homegrown Players will continue to rise. This makes the return of the club’s developmental side one of the most important moments of the year.
Come back through New Year’s Eve as we count down the remainder of Orlando City’s top 10 moments of 2019.