We are a little over two weeks away from the return of the Young Lions, who begin a fresh start in a new league as OCB 2.0. They’ll open their first USL League One campaign on March 30 at home against FC Tucson.
The team last played a game on Oct. 12, 2017. Back then, the first incarnation of OCB was in the USL, the second tier now rebranded as the USL Championship. The squad was a mix of draft picks on the fringes of the MLS squad loaned down for experience, USL journeymen on the latest stop of their careers, Orlando City veterans winding down their careers and looking to transition into coaching, and a couple of academy kids aiming to break into MLS.
The game ended as a forgettable 2–0 home defeat to the Tampa Bay Rowdies, so before we look ahead to the new season, here’s a look at where OCB 1.0’s last match day squad players are after leaving Orlando 17 months ago.
Jake Fenlason (GK)
Fenlason joined OCB in 2016 as an undrafted free agent out of Akron, making two appearances in his debut season. He spent most of 2017 as backup to Earl Edwards Jr., although he was given a chance to start seven of the final eight games, keeping two clean sheets in the process. He’d clearly shown enough to then-head coach Anthony Pulis for him to sign the San Diego native to new club Saint Louis FC, where he was a regular starter in the USL last season and made an impressive penalty save to help earn a 2–1 opening weekend win over Indy Eleven last weekend.
Kevin Alston (LB)
In 2016, Kevin Alston joined Orlando City via the MLS Re-Entry Draft after he was let go by New England. He featured 24 times for the Lions in MLS and made a further 12 appearances in purple when he spent 2017 on loan with OCB. Now 30 years old, the former MLS All-Star joined LAFC’s USL affiliate, Orange County SC last season (there’s clearly something about the initials OCSC he likes), where he played 23 times on the way to the conference championship game and has remained with the team, captaining the side in last weekend’s opening USL Championship fixture, although he had said at the end of last season he wanted to return to MLS.
Fernando Timbó (CB)
A product of Coritiba in Brazil, Timbo’s versatility was a feature of OCB’s final season, as he played all along the back line and in midfield in his 19 appearances, having stepped up to USL after a year in the NASL with the Ottawa Fury. He has since returned to his native Brazil, first with Paysandu and more recently with Paraná, both of Série B.
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Muito feliz e motivado com a oportunidade de vestir a camisa do @paranaclube. Uma honra estar nesse grande clube, batalhando todo dia e trabalhando para retribuir a confiança, dando o melhor de mim a cada dia em busca de muitas vitórias e conquistas. @r13fussball @ricardoscheidt4 #tricolordavila #paranaclube #obrigadosenhor #vamoquevamo
Zach Carroll (CB)
A former United States U-17 international and NSCAA High School Player of the Year, Carroll was drafted by the New York Red Bulls in 2016 but spent the season in the USL with their reserve side, helping his team win the USL regular season and cup double. Despite the success, he was waived by the New Jersey side and was swiftly picked up by OCB, for whom he featured 24 times in 2017. Still in the second tier of American soccer, the 22-year-old Carroll is out in Nevada where he captained Reno 1868 FC last season, won the team’s defensive player of the year award, and remains with the team for 2019.
Zach Ellis-Hayden (RB)
Ellis-Hayden was 23 when he joined OCB in 2016, starting to enter his prime years after a solid career as a Viking with Cleveland State University and a spell in the PDL with K-W United. He became an automatic starter under Pulis, locking down the right back spot over both seasons, a spell that earned him a move to Fresno FC in 2018 ahead of their inaugural season. He played 20 games in USL last year, scoring twice, and remains with the team for the new USL Championship season.
Jordan Schweitzer (CM)
A dominant defensive midfielder at the University of Denver and the Seattle Sounders Academy, Schweitzer started his pro career by signing a Homegrown contract with Seattle in 2016 but was immediately waived — only to be picked up by the team’s USL affiliate. Let go at the end of that year, he found his way to OCB and became an automatic starter, making 24 appearances and scoring once. The former Canadian U-23 international remains in the USL having moved to the Colorado Springs Switchbacks in 2018 and he even spent preseason training with their MLS partner team, the Colorado Rapids, this year. More importantly, however, the 24-year-old parted with his long hair, albeit for a noble charitable cause.
Tony Rocha (CM)
Rocha was one of three players in OCB’s initial roster announcement in late 2015, alongside Mikey Ambrose and Kyle Callan-McFadden. He spent his three years in Orlando switching between MLS and the USL under the old model, making a combined 59 appearances in purple across all competitions. He remained with Orlando City in 2018 when OCB went on hiatus but was traded in the most recent off-season, moving to fellow MLS side New York City FC. Eagle-eyed fans will have noticed the 25-year-old midfielder make his debut for the Pigeons at Orlando City Stadium, coming on for a late substitute appearance against his former side in the 2–2 opening day draw.
Pierre Da Silva (LM)
The only player still technically with the organization, Pierre Da Silva got his first taste of pro action with OCB in 2016, ranking 15th in the USL’s 20 under 20 at the end of the campaign. His form earned him an MLS deal with Orlando City, although he went back on loan to OCB for a season that saw the winger rise to the number one spot in the 20 under 20, registering three goals and seven assists in 26 appearances. Following the hiatus of OCB, Da Silva remained with the senior team but was stuck on the fringes, only making two substitute appearances in MLS and leaving for a short loan spell with Saint Louis FC. Despite no official announcement from the club, the United States U-19 international appears to have joined Orlando’s Brazilian partner club Athletico Paranaense on loan for the 2019 season after he posted on social media last month.
Lewis Neal (RM)
Selected by Orlando in the 2014 MLS Expansion Draft, Neal was let go by Orlando City at the end of the inaugural season in the top flight but was re-signed by the organization for OCB’s debut year with a view to the then-34-year-old seasoned veteran acting as a player-coach under the old team model. The England native also held academy coaching and media roles during his time with the team. Making 50 appearances across the two seasons, the OCB captain ended his playing career at the end of 2017, although he has since taken up indoor soccer and remains in the city with the MASL’s Orlando SeaWolves.
Hadji Barry (F)
A former UCF Knight and 2016 first-round SuperDraft pick, Barry was prolific for OCB, netting 14 goals in 28 appearances across his two seasons with the team. That form earned him a move to Sporting Kansas City’s high-flying USL affiliate, Swope Park Rangers, when OCB went on hiatus. He repaid their faith by leading them in goals for the year, with 17 in the regular season and a further two in postseason play as Swope Park reached the conference semifinals. During the recent off-season, the 26-year-old Guinea international headed overseas, joining Israeli Premier League side Ironi Kiryat Shmona in December.
Michael Cox (F)
Having turned professional at age 17 with NASL side FC Edmonton for the team’s inaugural season, Cox spent three years there before heading to Finnish Premier League outfit KuPS. He returned to Canada in 2015 to play collegiate soccer with the York Lions for a year before joining OCB in 2016. Thirteen goals in 45 games later for the Young Lions, Nashville took interest in the Canadian striker for the side’s debut season before Pulis took him to Saint Louis FC midway through the 2018 season. Now 26, he has headed back to Canada for the first Canadian Premier League season, joining York9 FC, which plays its home games at Cox’s old stomping ground, Alumni Field at York University.
Earl Edwards Jr. (GK)
Drafted by Orlando in 2015, Edwards saw his chances limited to a sole U.S. Open Cup appearance in his first season and even the introduction of OCB the following year didn’t improve things, as Scottish keeper Mark Ridgers earned the job. However, 2017 brought with it a starting role as the former UCLA Bruin kept nine clean sheets in 23 appearances. He stayed with the senior team in 2018, with Orlando’s defensive woes opening the door for a run of five MLS starts, but he was allowed to leave upon the expiration of his contract at the end of the year. He was eventually picked up by D.C. United in the off-season but remains third choice behind Bill Hamid and Chris Seitz.
Conor Donovan (CB)
Drafted as a Generation Adidas player in 2015 after his freshman year at NC State, Donovan was another drafted player that struggled for minutes with the senior side. He was loaned down to the USL with OCB for development but never made the jump. He was picked up by USL side Rio Grande Valley FC Toros for the 2018 season and signed with MLS affiliate Houston Dynamo in May to help the team meet U.S. Open Cup roster rules, playing in their 5–0 win over NTX Reyados before being loaned back to RGVFC. Houston won the Open Cup in 2018, earning the defender a medal, but the Dynamo declined his contract option at the end of the year. The 23-year-old has since re-signed with RGVFC for another season in the newly rebranded USL Championship.
Paul Clowes (CM)
The Manchester City academy graduate declined a professional contract in favor of a scholarship with Clemson University in 2012. Also featuring in the PDL with Orlando City U-23, he was a second-round draft pick in 2016 for D.C. United and was loaned to USL affiliate Richmond Kickers before being waived later in the season. He then joined fellow USL side Charlotte Independence. A season later, the Englishman found his way back to Orlando, playing 16 games with OCB. The team’s hiatus last year gave him a chance to return to England for a break, turning out for local amateur 12th-tier side Egerton, but he looks set to make his return in 2019, having joined OCB’s USL League One opponents, Greenville Triumph, for their inaugural season.
Delighted to sign with @GVLTriumph! Thanks to everyone at the club - it’s going be a special season. Hungry to work hard towards winning a championship in my second home!— Paul Clowes (@paulclowes6) January 22, 2019
⚽️ #TogetherWeTriumph https://t.co/1s2zwYzdDD
Danny Deakin (F) — 66’ Substitute
Versatile attacker Deakin came through the academies of both Wednesday and United, the two giant clubs in his native Sheffield, England. He came to America when he wasn’t offered a professional contract at 18, playing Division 2 soccer at Mercyhurst University before transferring to the South Carolina Gamecocks, scoring 18 goals in 41 appearances. A third-round draft pick for Orlando in 2017, he was initially loaned to OCB before signing with the USL affiliate permanently. He made 17 appearances in purple, scoring once from the spot against Tampa Bay. Following OCB’s hiatus at the end of his first pro year, Deakin returned to NPSL side Detroit City FC for the 2018 season, more recently turned out for conference side Curzon Ashton in England, and is now part of Cavalry FC’s preseason training camp as they prepare for the inaugural Canadian Premier League season, which starts in May.
Cavalry FC's preseason training camp starts today and 60 days out from our home opener on May 4, 2019. Season tickets are available now with Game Packs coming soon and Individual Game Tickets coming in April!https://t.co/4jDL2YkaNQ#CavsFC#RideWithUs#CanPL#CanadianSoccer pic.twitter.com/rWPC33IaU6— Cavalry FC (@CPLCavalryFC) March 4, 2019
Joe Gallardo (F)
Gallardo’s signing in 2016 most closely mirrored what is happening with the USL League One team right now. As a 19-year-old U.S. youth international, the San Diego native was signed from Monterrey’s academy in Mexico first to the academy and then later to OCB. Those were signs that the USL side was providing an upward pathway towards the senior MLS team. A highly promising and talked about prospect, he was unfortunately only given seven appearances totaling 251 minutes, failing to score for the side. Since then, he doesn’t appear to have signed for another club, although he spent the most recent off-season training with Orlando City’s Chris Mueller and former USMNT forward Eddie Johnson.
Me and the bro @cmueller1662 hustling this morning. Huge shoutout to my bro @eddie_johnson7 he’s one of the few to still believe in me and is helping me so I can achieve my dreams I’ve been through a lot the past couple of years and this guy had really motivated to keep going pic.twitter.com/to1WTdvb8B— Joe Gallardo (@Jgallardo98_7) November 8, 2018
Austin Martz (RM) — 55’ Substitute
Before landing with OCB for the 2017 season, Martz had spent his college career with Georgetown University. He went in search of a pro contract, first trialing with the New York Red Bulls before heading to Scandinavia, and even played professionally in Malta with Pembroke Athleta. He eventually returned to the States with the Wilmington Hammerheads in 2016. He played in all but two games for OCB the following season, with Pulis finding him so dependable that he took him to Saint Louis FC in 2018, where he remains for the 2019 season.
Ben Polk (F) — 78’ Substitute
Born in Phoenix, AZ, Polk moved to England as a child and was part of Oxford United’s youth setup. He returned to the U.S. on a soccer scholarship, first with Genesee Community College, then Herkimer County, before making a third move to Syracuse in 2015. Having scored 71 goals in 72 college games, Polk was selected in the first round by the Portland Timbers in 2016, where he played for Timbers 2 in the USL before signing with OCB a year later. Only scoring once in 33 USL appearances across both teams and now without a club, the last we heard of Polk was unfortunately due to his arrest after an altercation he had with a cab driver.