Last week, USL League One announced the format for the 2020 season. Each team will play 20 games over 15 weeks, including four games against a regional rival. The standings will be a single table with the top two teams reaching the league championship. With the format released, we now have a much better idea of what Orlando City B’s season will look like. Here are some of the biggest things to know before the season starts on July 18.
OCB Avoids One of the Best Teams
Each team in USL League One was provided a regional rival and an omitted team for the season. The omitted team is one that each team won’t have to play during the season. The good news for OCB in 2020 is that it will avoid one of the best teams from 2019 and one expected to challenge in 2020. The four playoff teams in 2019 were North Texas SC, Lansing Ignite, Greenville Triumph, and Forward Madison. OCB’s omitted team in 2020 will be Forward Madison, which finished fourth in the league in 2019. With Lansing folding following last season, OCB will only have to face North Texas and Greenville this season from last year’s playoff teams. That will certainly be a positive for a team that finished last in the table last season.
OCB Will Develop a Rivalry with Fort Lauderdale CF
It won’t surprise anyone to know that USL League One is going to attempt developing a rivalry between OCB and Fort Lauderdale CF. The latter is the developmental team of Inter Miami CF, the team Major League Soccer will be look to build a rivalry with Orlando City. The two have been matched as regional rivals in USL League One this season, meaning they will play each other four times. The fact that they are both developmental teams rather than independent further enhances a potential rivalry since they will have the same primary goal of developing young players each season. If fans are permitted in Osceola County Stadium for those games, this will give Orlando City fans their first opportunity to support their club against their new rival in person.
Postseason Qualification Will Be Difficult
Even if they added more teams to the postseason field, it was going to be difficult for OCB to make the playoffs. The team is designed to be a developmental squad for the first team rather than a playoff contender. While FC Dallas’ developmental team, North Texas, won the league last year, its been consistently putting young players into the first team while OCB is still building that aspect of the club. Making the postseason was made even harder this year as only the top two teams in the league will advance. Given the teams it will compete against, OCB has almost no chance of reaching the USL League One postseason for the first time. If you’re looking for an on-field goal for the team to reach, not finishing in last place would be a good start.
Fans Might Be in Attendance
A big question for USL League One fans is whether fans will be in the stands. For OCB, the answer is maybe. The league stated it will be up to each local area whether or not fans will be permitted. OCB will play its home games at Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee and it’s still questionable if fans will be allowed to gather. At the latest count, Osceola County had the third-most coronavirus cases in Central Florida at 2,966, just behind Orange and Seminole counties. League One teams in areas that haven’t been hit as hard have already announced that fans will be in the stands, but circumstances could change in the coming weeks. While Orlando City will have a say in whether fans can attend, it will mostly be up to Osceola County as to whether it’ll allow a gathering of up to a couple thousand people.
No Sounds Piped In
USL games will be broadcast on ESPN+ again this season as the partnership continues through the 2022 season. Since sports have returned, fans have gotten used to crowd noise being included in broadcasts, but this won’t be the case in the USL Championship or USL League One season. The reasoning the league gave is that fans will be in the stands for many games and artificial noise is gimmicky. This won’t make much of a difference for OCB’s games, regardless of whether the team allows fans, as it has rarely drawn 1,000 fans and barely drew over 100 last year at Montverde Academy.
American men’s soccer will return this month and OCB will take the field after July 18. As we draw closer, we now know have a better idea of what the 2020 season will look like.