The 2019 USL League One season has been a rough one for Orlando City B. The Young Lions lost five of their first seven games, before going on their four-game unbeaten streak. Since then, they’ve dropped three straight and haven’t shown the same fight in the last two games.
While OCB struggled early in the season, it never gave up during a game. Despite being down 3-0 to FC Tucson in the second half of the season opener, the team continued fighting, which allowed Koby Osei-Wusu to score the team’s first goal of the season. Even when the scoreline appeared lopsided, the Young Lions always showed an energy that resulted in chances.
While they were unable to produce a goal from those chances early in the season, they came through in Tucson when a 1-0 advantage turned into a 2-1 deficit. The team immediately went on the offensive, resulting in an Osei-Wusu goal that allowed OCB to claim its first road point.
“As one of the older guys on the team, one of the leaders, I know that I have to try to make something happen,” Osei-Wusu said about the team’s performance when trailing earlier this season. “To give us a little boost. Keep us in the game a little bit longer and keep fighting.”
For much of this season, the team has shown that fight and has continued to create chances, even if they’re not going in. But a team can only produce energy for so long when it continues coming away with nothing.
In these last two games, it hasn’t been the same as earlier in the season when the team has fallen behind. This was especially true Saturday night in a 2-0 loss to Lansing Ignite FC. Osei-Wusu nearly gave the Young Lions the lead late in the first half, forcing Lansing goalkeeper Stefan Cleveland into a great save.
Even when Lansing did score its first goal five minutes into the second half, OCB immediately went on the attack. Thiago Souza took on defenders and created a chance for Tanner Hummel in the box that just skipped wide of the post. As usual, OCB wasn’t going to go down without a fight.
The mood in the team clearly changed in the 68th minute when Lansing doubled its lead. Kyle Carr’s free kick to the far post found Kevin Coiffic, who volleyed in a great goal. Despite there still being more than 20 minutes left in the game, that second goal seemed to end things in the minds of the OCB players.
Despite giving the opposition the advantage in possession and shots, OCB was still creating chances. The players were still going at defenders and putting balls into the box. Defenders were still making strong tackles and attempting to break up attacks, but that second goal ended all of that.
The final 20 minutes of the game became shooting practice for Lansing. OCB didn’t create a single opportunity in the final 20 minutes. When the Young Lions got close to the opposing box, they would lose possession and Lansing would immediately go back on the attack. While defenders were throwing their bodies in front of shots, Lansing was finding more space, resulting in uncontested shots.
This is a very young team with very little experience. It’s unrealistic to expect this team to compete week in and week out with the top teams in the league. However, it still needs to find a way to provide the energy to create chances.
The purpose of OCB is to develop players for the first team. There were several players in these two games that came out of the club’s academy and whose MLS rights are held by Orlando City. Eventually, the club hopes that at least one or some of them will be able to play for the first team. When that time occurs, they will be expected to continue fighting in every game they play, no matter how much the team has struggled. And considering what the first team has done these last five years, there will likely be lots of struggle.
OCB Head Coach Fernando Jose De Argila Irurita does not allow his team to lay down to the opposition, no matter how dire the situation appears. It’s something that he has spoken about after multiple games this season. So this is something that will likely be addressed in preparation for the team’s next game Friday night.
While OCB has struggled for much of the season, the Young Lions have almost always shown energy and fight for all 90 minutes. It’s something that has been noticeably missing in the team’s two most recent games but something that must return.