Orlando City B has lost four out of its first five games of the 2019 USL League One season, coming away with just one point. With such a poor record, you would think that the team’s been stuck on the back foot, spending most of the game defending. However, this isn’t the case.
Saturday evening, OCB lost 1-0 to North Texas SC in a game that the Young Lions very well could’ve won. While they conceded the majority of possession to the opposition, they had more shots and had multiple excellent chances to score, especially inside the first 10 and last 10 minutes. Injuries can certainly be blamed for this poor offensive performance with two of the team’s three starting forwards, Will Bagrou and Ates Diouf, out injured. But this is a problem that has been going on all season.
The Young Lions may not have had the majority of possession in this game, but they have in the majority of their games thus far. In three of the team’s first four games, they held more possession than the opposition, with the other game’s possession being nearly equal.
The possession held by OCB has turned into plenty of chances with the team creating double digit shots in four of the first five games this season. They’ve managed to out-shoot their opponents in three of the five games, losing each one. So what has gone wrong?
While the team has done well to create chances, finishing and decision-making have been the offensive Achilles heel. The only game in which the team has had more than four shots on target was against Forward Madison, when it placed seven of its 13 shots on goal. In three of the five games, OCB had at least 10 shots off target, including Saturday, when 15 shots were off target.
While part of the problem is finishing itself, another part is the decision-making of the players. OCB has yet to play a game in which it has taken as many shots inside the box as outside the box. Of the 59 shots taken so far this season, 36 have been taken from long distance. As you might expect, these are lower percentage shots so it’s no surprise that these attempts haven’t resulted in goals.
A major reason why these statistics have accumulated is because of the buildup in play. OCB typically plays from the outside in. The outside backs overlap the three midfielders, creating crossing opportunities from the touchline. The best chances for the team came from being able to get the outside back or midfielder into the box rather than sending balls in.
With an average age of just 20, OCB is smaller than most other teams in the league. Because of this, the Lions are not going to win a lot of balls in the air. As these balls into the box get cleared, the inexperienced players attempt longer, less effective shots.
An example of a successful build up was in OCB’s goal against South Georgia Tormenta. A long ball by Austin Amer found Thiago Souza down the right flank. Rather than sending in a ball that likely would’ve been cleared, Souza took the ball to the end line and played it on the ground to Bagrou. While it wasn’t a great ball back for Bagrou, it allowed him to control it in the box rather than falling to a midfielder 25 yards away from goal.
With OCB having lost four of its first five games, it would be easy to assume that the team has played quite poorly. In fact, there’s just been one aspect offensively that has let the team down. This rough stretch could easily be turned around by better decision-making and getting more shots on target. If OCB manages that, the result could be several wins in the future.