After going on hiatus for the 2018 USL season, Orlando City B returns this year in a new league and with a new focus. Orlando City fans enjoyed watching the club’s second team play in 2016 and 2017, but there are several reasons why the team will be even more enjoyable to watch in 2019. Whether you plan on heading down to see the team play live at Montverde Academy or watching on ESPN+, you’ll find benefits of keeping up with the new squad.
Watch the Future
The biggest reason that will probably convince people to watch OCB this season is who will be on the team. The team in 2016 and 2017 consisted of a few first team players that were not receiving minutes and career USL players. The purpose of OCB in the new third division USL League One is to be a true connection between the club’s development academy and the MLS team. The result is that there will be several academy products whose MLS rights are owned by the club, making them more likely to end up with the first team. Added to the six academy products will be various players, most of which are under the age of 23. This will provide more young players that the first team may consider signing. As the team continues into future seasons, you can expect that the number of academy graduates on the roster will rise.
Follow Local Talent
One of the best parts of the OCB roster for many fans will be the abundance of local talent. With most players on the previous OCB teams being first-team players or career USL players, there were few, if any, who grew up in Central Florida. This season, OCB will feature several players that came up through the Orlando City Development Academy or through the Soccer Institute at Montverde Academy (SIMA). This will provide a way to see some of the best young players in the area and to determine the level of top youth soccer in this part of the country. As more MLS teams create USL League One teams or drop their second teams to that level, there may be more of a community aspect to the teams in future seasons.
Optimism for the Future
Watching Orlando City play has been difficult for fans since the team joined MLS in 2015. After getting used to tremendous success in the USL, the team has gotten worse each season since joining the top division. When the team is out of playoff contention midway through the season, it can create a great deal of pessimism about the club. There will be a lot of young players on OCB this year who will be fighting to earn their place in the first team in the future. Even if the team doesn’t achieve results on the field, seeing these young talents progress will provide optimism for the future of the club.
Experiencing a Full Pyramid
If you look at soccer around the world, many clubs have a full pyramid of teams, starting with the academy at the youngest levels and moving up to the reserve and first team. The reserve teams are mostly made up of youth players that are not quite ready for the first team. With the inclusion of OCB, Orlando City is back to having a full pyramid. Even better than before, players can progress through the academy, play for OCB, then make it to the first team. With the club being in its ninth year, OCB will consist of players that grew up in the area rooting for the Lions, providing the fans with the chance to watch some of their own.
While OCB’s short hiatus in 2018 may have been for a legitimate reason, it meant that there was less professional soccer in Central Florida, and specifically less Orlando City soccer. Most OCB games are on separate days from Orlando City and the Orlando Pride, allowing fans to watch all three teams play. For those who are constantly looking for ways to add more games into their lives, this is a great return. Additionally, all games for the USL League One season will be shown on ESPN+, so that you can watch each and every game with ease.
We’re less than two weeks away from OCB returning to action. What are you most excited about seeing this season? Let us know in the comments below.