Orlando City B has struggled in its few years of existence. The team launched in 2016 as a way to develop younger players and to ease first-team players back from injuries. That lasted two years before the team took a hiatus in 2018. OCB returned in 2019 as a completely new developmental squad serving as a bridge from the academy to the first team.
The one constant in OCB history has been that the primary objective has never been about wins and losses. Yes, every team wants to win as many games as possible. But with OCB, it has been more important to develop players who could play a future role with the first team.
Exactly four years ago today, OCB made history. The Young Lions recorded just their second-ever win and their first win at home.
The team played its home games at Eastern Florida State College’s Titan Soccer Complex in Melbourne, where they averaged just over 1,000 fans a game.
The Young Lions had a plethora of MLS players at their disposal for this game as they took on FC Montreal. Tyler Turner, Devron Garcia, Richie Laryea, Harrison Heath, Bryan Róchez, and Conor Donovan were all playing and on MLS contracts. The lineup also featured future MLS players Mikey Ambrose and Tony Rocha, and Lewis Neal captained the side.
It took just nine minutes for OCB to find the breakthrough. Turner had the ball on the right side of the field and sent a cross to the back post. Neal was on the back side of the six-yard box and headed the ball across the frame. Striker Michael Cox was there, and headed in the sole goal of the match.
Things were going great for Orlando, but then Garcia took down FC Montreal’s Charles Joly. The play happened because Donovan mistimed his tackle, and Garcia was given a straight red. This was the second time in as many home games that an Orlando played got a red card.
Then-OCB Head Coach Anthony Pulis made some changes, and the Young Lions played much more defensively for the majority of the game. This put Montreal in the attack throughout the match, and OCB goalkeeper Mark Ridgers stood on his head to keep his shutout. The game opened up a bit in the final 20 minutes, but Orlando was able to hold on for the 1-0 win. Our Sean Rollins was there and recapped the game for us.
That match was a momentous one for Orlando. It was the start of a six-game homestand and OCB failed to earn at least a point only once in that span, going 3-1-2.
OCB finished the year with nine wins, going 9-13-8. The Young Lions made the playoffs for the only time in team history but lost to New York Red Bulls II, 4-0. Aaron Long — now a regular for the MLS side as well as the USMNT — had a brace for New York.