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Orlando City B Lacks an Effective Target Striker

OCB has found quality players at each position, but still lacks a target forward.

Image courtesy of Orlando City B

While Orlando City B has not been very successful on the field, only winning one game so far this season, it has been successful at finding some possible players for the first team. Thomas Williams has been solid at the back, Jose Quintero has played well in the midfield, and Moises Tablante and Wilfredo Rivera have looked like future stars. One thing OCB hasn’t found this season though is a target striker.

When the 2020 season started, Julian Kennedy was touted as that striker. However, he struggled to stay onside and was unable to find the back of the net. After starting the first four games of the season, Kennedy didn’t see the field again until he started Friday night against Greenville Triumph SC.

The most significant attacking threats for the Young Lions this season have been Tablante and Rivera. Most that follow OCB would’ve guessed Tablante would have a good year after he played so well in 2019. The surprise of the season has been Wilfredo Rivera. The 16-year-old had an excellent first game against South Georgia Tormenta FC before going on to score twice in the next two games.

While Rivera has been the Young Lions’ biggest threat to score during most of the season, the Puerto Rican stands at just 5-foot-6 and is 148 pounds. That’s hardly the size of a target striker. Tablante is a little bigger than Rivera but does most of his damage from the outside, recording a team-leading three assists this season.

The lack of a target forward has been glaringly apparent this season for OCB. After being held scoreless in the season’s first game, the Young Lions scored twice against New England Revolution II and then had a single goal in each of the next five games. But that was where the scoring stopped. Following Quintero’s 30th-minute goal on Sept. 3 against North Texas SC, OCB has failed to score over the next four and a half games. That’s 420 minutes.

The team’s seven goals this season ranks last in the league. Its 128 shots places it in the bottom half of the league this season. But it’s not as if the Young Lions aren’t creating chances. The team has done well getting the ball through the midfield and into the attacking third. The problem is that the players taking shots are those who create rather than score. They are great at creating opportunities, but not putting them away.

That’s where a target striker would come in. If there was someone who played mostly in the opposing third and was focused solely on scoring, you can bet that Tablante, Rivera, and Quintero would each have multiple assists. Instead, they’ve been tasked with attempting to score the goals themselves as there has been nobody to play through.

The 18-year-old Kennedy is 6-foot and 170 pounds. He’s the right size to handle that position if he can find a way to stay onside, find open spaces, and put balls on target. If he does, OCB might have the target striker it desires. If not, it could be a while before the Young Lions celebrate another goal.