If you have followed Orlando City B at all this season, you’ll know that it has been a difficult one. The team has only won three games and earned 13 points, with just one draw in its last 15 games. But the team has played much better than its record might indicate.
Saturday night’s loss to Chattanooga Red Wolves SC was a good example of how the 2019 USL League One season has gone for OCB. The team had several good chances in the first half to open the scoring. After conceding the opening goal, the Young Lions quickly went on the attack and got an equalizer just before the break.
Going into the half at 1-1 should have provided confidence for the young team, especially against a team that’s fighting for a playoff spot. But Chattanooga quickly attacked the Young Lions and scored just two minutes into the second half.
To say that OCB has been in every game it’s played this season would be a misrepresentation. Despite scoring first on May 11 against North Texas SC, OCB fell 4-1 in a game that never felt like the team was really in it. The Young Lions had a similar experience on July 24 against South Georgia Tormenta FC, their other 4-1 defeat.
But there have been a number of games that the team has been in before a lapse of concentration or breakdown in the back ruined the performance. The most memorable occurrence of this was on June 12 against FC Tucson. The team went into that game having won three straight at home and with a four-game unbeaten streak. It played well enough to win that night at Montverde Academy but a lack of focus in the final three minutes of the first half doomed the Young Lions.
A goal in the 44th minute and one minute into injury time lifted the visitors to a 2-0 lead heading into the break. Thiago Souza scored a second half penalty but it wasn’t enough. Experiencing that type of collapse going into the locker room clearly had an impact on the team when they came back out.
“It’s a game that we played 87 minutes really good but three minutes bad,” former OCB Head Coach Fernando Jose De Argila Irurita said after that game. “That is how soccer is. The team that takes advantage of the mistakes of the other team has the possibility to win.”
“Soccer is a game where you have to be consistently in the game,” former OCB vice captain Matheus Silva said after the same game. “If you’re not tuned in, a little bit asleep, a little split second, like two seconds, they were able to capitalize.”
Of the team’s 19 losses this season, the deciding goal has been scored within 10 minutes of the start or end of a half 15 times. It’s been scored nine times within five minutes of the start or end of a half.
The vast majority of these goals have been defensive lapses rather than individual brilliance by the opposition. This tells us that the team has mentally had trouble focusing when coming out of the locker room or right before going back in.
It also means that the team isn’t that far off from the opposition during the other 25 to 35 minutes of each half. The Young Lions have had the majority of possession in 10 of the 26 games played so far this season and have out-shot their opponents in nine games. In eight games, they had more possession and more shots than the opposition. When a team controls possession and creates more chances, it has a greater chance of winning. OCB only has three wins this season, which shows that hasn’t been happening.
It’s been a difficult season for OCB as it glued itself to the bottom place in the standings. The season goals have gone from making the playoffs to not finishing in last to simply getting a point before the season ends. With some better concentration and discipline, it could’ve been a very different season.