Tonight, Orlando City B returns to the field for the first time since 2017. After playing two years in the United Soccer League, Orlando City’s second team took the 2018 season off as it awaited the launch of a new third division league, USL League One. In the first game of the 2019 season, the Young Lions will welcome FC Tucson.
For many Orlando City fans, this will be the first time they have the opportunity to see some young players whose MLS rights are held by the club. While the club doesn’t hold the rights to all players, it may also provide the opportunity to see some future players that the club decides to sign to MLS deals. This occurred in 2016 when the club signed Tony Rocha, Mikey Ambrose, and Pierre Da Silva from OCB.
About FC Tucson
Similar to Orlando City, FC Tucson was founded in 2010 and played its first season in 2011, but in the fourth division USL Premier Development League. In seven seasons in that league, the team made the playoffs all but once. Between 2014 and 2017, it won its division but fell short in the conference finals three times.
In October 2017, FC Tucson was purchased by USL Championship side Phoenix Rising FC, becoming their lower league affiliate. The affiliation means that FC Tucson will feature multiple players that are contracted to Phoenix Rising. However, with several players that have been professionals, they will feature on a team that is more focused on winning than development. For 2019, the team decided to move its affiliate club up a level to the new third division league, making it fully professional.
OCB will enter this game as the underdog, as it features the third youngest team in the league after Toronto FC II and North Texas SC. The Young Lions squad is entirely made up of players 23 years old or younger and only eight of the 25 players have played professionally before. While the average age of OCB is under 20, FC Tucson has an average age of 24, with players ranging between 20 and 29 years old. Meanwhile, the opponents have 12 players that have played professionally.
OCB will have the advantage of several players having played together, however. With ownership from another professional club and moving up to a new division, much of FC Tucson’s team is playing together for the first time. OCB, on the other hand, has 12 players that either played at Montverde Academy, in the Orlando City Development Academy, or with the SIMA Àguilas PDL team.
How to Watch
OCB will take on FC Tucson at 7:30 p.m. ET at Montverde Academy. The game will be streamed on ESPN+ and internationally on YouTube. For live updates and rapid reaction, follow @TheManeLand on Twitter.