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Orlando City B Defense Gains Confidence in Best Performance of the Season

Orlando City B’s defense will look to build upon its strong showing Friday night.

Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Orlando City B goalkeeper Juliano Chade has been one of the best goalkeepers in USL League One this season, collecting a pair of Team of the Week honors. The 21-year-old may have had his least impressive performance during a clean sheet Friday night, but it’s a good sign moving forward for OCB.

The first three weeks of the season saw several changes in the OCB starting lineup and the back four was no different. Dismissals of Randy Mendoza in week one and Emmanuel Hagan in week two forced the pair of defenders to be replaced the following week. OCB Head Coach Fernando Jose De Argila Irurita seemed to find his back four the following week until Wilfred Williams strained his right hamstring.

From the goalkeeper spot, Irurita wanted to give each of his goalkeepers a chance to start the season. Luca Mancuso started the first game against FC Tucson and Christian Herrera started against Toronto FC II before Chade finally got his opportunity against South Georgia Tormenta FC in the team’s third game. Over the past three games, the Young Lions have played with the same goalkeeper and the same back four.

Chade has been spectacular at moments this season, making diving saves that have kept opponents off the board. This has largely been due to losing a run or being beaten in the air, which is why five of the team’s nine goals conceded have been off of set pieces.

While OCB’s now regular back four of Mendoza, Matheus Silva, Nathan Simeon, and Leonardo Simas have looked good at times, this was the first game in which they were able to put in a complete 90 minutes, resulting in the team’s first clean sheet of the season.

This season’s nine goals conceded by OCB is tied with the Lansing Ignite for the most in USL League One. However, with a consistent five players in the back, the team has only conceded one goal over the past two games.

Chade attributes much of the improved defensive performance to the consistency of the team over the past three weeks. “When you have many games (with the same players), we feel very confident and this is so important in football,” the goalkeeper said after the game Friday night. “I and the other players that play so much, it’s great for our confidence.”

While Chade has had some stellar performances this season, this is his first clean sheet of the year. This has less to do with Chade’s play and more to do with the play of his back four. Regardless of how good he has been, many of the goals conceded have been unstoppable. In addition to providing confidence for the defensive unit, the clean sheet and not being depended on for spectacular saves will provide confidence for Chade.

“Juliano has been for two weeks the best goalkeeper in the league but he has been receiving goals,” Irurita said after Friday night’s game. “Today, he’s probably not going to be the best goalkeeper of the week, but he didn’t receive a goal. And that is good for him to continue building his confidence.”

The average age of OCB is under 20 years old and most of the players are in their first professional season so building confidence is important as the season continues. As the team travels back west to take on North Texas SC for the second time in three weeks, it’ll be looking to build on this defensive performance.

The next focus for the team will be on finishing chances at the other end. The Young Lions took 21 shots Friday night against Chattanooga but only four were on target. A defensive performance like this game and a better shot selection could see the team claim its first win of the season.