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.
OCB’s first season back was a difficult one. It lost five of its first seven games and only claimed two points during that stretch. The Young Lions nearly beat South Georgia Tormenta FC in their third game, but a last-minute goal by Lars Eckenrode spoiled the day. Finally, in their eighth attempt, the Young Lions finally came away with all three points, beating Toronto FC II, 2-0.
The opening goal of the game came from an academy product, 17-year-old midfielder Moises Tablante. Receiving a cross-field pass from Brazilian import Serginho, Tablante carried the ball with pace into the Toronto box. A quick touch inside allowed him space with his left and he drilled the ball into the top corner of the goal.
OCB nearly doubled its lead just before halftime when team captain Rafael Santos found himself in on goal. As he attempted to take the ball past the goalkeeper, he was taken down by an oncoming defender. The referee pointed to the spot and a yellow card was issued to the defender. It looked like Thiago Souza, the team’s leading scorer, would take the kick but Austin Amer stepped up instead. He hit the ball to the right of goal but the goalkeeper was able to dive low to make the stop.
The Young Lions got another opportunity when quick passing sprung William Bagrou inside the box. The striker was taken down and the referee pointed to the spot for the second time of the night. This time, OCB went with its most dependable penalty taker. Souza stepped up, sent the goalkeeper the wrong way, and put the ball into the low corner of the goal.
“The players, from the moment that they start, they never decrease intensity because they weren’t winning,” Head Coach Fernando Jose De Argila Irurita said after the game. “They always put intensity in every practice. They were always aiming for that victory and we got it today.”
After starting the season on a seven-game winless streak, it seemed like one win was all the team needed. That 2-0 win over Toronto started a four-game stretch that resulted in three wins in four games. The Young Lions claimed 10 points in that four-game undefeated stretch before coming back to earth.
Following a 2-1 win over Forward Madison FC three weeks later, the team went on another winless streak, including a four-game and 10-game losing streak. OCB’s one win after that short successful stretch was a 1-0 victory over Greenville Triumph SC in the penultimate game of the season.
This win was important for OCB and Orlando City because it provided the first bit of professional success for the eight academy products on the team. The team showed that it could compete at that level and played like it over the next few games. It was also the first win in a new era for OCB.
Come back through the rest of the year as we count down the remainder of Orlando City’s top 10 moments of 2018.
10. OCSC hosts the USMNT in Concacaf Nations League game.
9. OCB returns in USL League One.
8. The Orlando Pride defeat the Red Stars in Chicago.