The goal of Orlando City B is to develop players for the first team. While not every player that comes through OCB will make it to the MLS squad, several should in the coming years. That’s what makes watching this young team so much fun. Two games into the season, we’ve already seen some potential future stars for the first team.
The player who had the biggest impact for OCB on Saturday night shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who watched the Young Lions play last year. Moises Tablante came through Orlando City’s academy and was signed to OCB for the 2019 season. He quickly made a name for himself, scoring two goals in 13 appearances. By the end of the season, the question wasn’t whether Tablante would be back with the club but if he would be signed to a Homegrown Player contract.
Joining OCB for the second consecutive year, Tablante was expected to be a key player for this team. That was seen Saturday night as Tablante was the most dangerous attacking player for the Young Lions, assisting on both of the team’s goals in a 2-0 win. What was seen from Tablante in this game was exactly what everyone expected. If he continues to play how he can through this season, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him sign for the first team for the 2021 MLS season.
While the success of Tablante was expected, there have been some surprises for fans. One of those has been 16-year-old forward Wilfredo Rivera. Starting his first game on Aug. 1 against Tormenta FC, Rivera was everywhere on the field. In a game in which the Young Lions were dominated, their few chances were primarily created by Rivera. By the time the first half ended in Statesboro, GA, he had become a player to watch.
That exciting play continued Saturday night as Rivera joined Tablante as a dangerous threat for OCB. The two combined to create multiple chances throughout the game before linking up for the game’s opening goal in the 66th minute. For those who watched the first two games of the season, it felt like that goal had been coming for the teenager. He might not be quite as polished as Tablante, but he’s a player to keep an eye on for the future.
One position OCB hasn’t had any trouble with so far has been goalkeeper. Going back to its first season in 2016, the Young Lions have had some great goalkeepers. Prior to OCB being used as a link between the academy and first team, some of those include Mark Ridgers, Jake Fenlason, and Earl Edwards Jr. Last year, Juliano Chade was at the club on loan and had some spectacular performances. Despite a shoddy defense in front of him, Chade ended the season with three clean sheets.
The team continued its run of solid goalkeeping with the addition of 2020 MLS SuperDraft selection Austin Aviza. Selected out of Providence in the second round by Orlando City, Aviza has been fantastic in his first two games with the club. While he gave up two goals against Tormenta FC, he made seven saves and the score line could’ve been much worse. He even ended up being awarded USL League One Save of the Week for his debut performance.
Aviza wasn’t called upon quite as often on Friday night but came up big when he was. A big moment in the game came in the 53rd minute when Orlando Sinclair found Isaac Angking at the top of the six-yard box. With a free shot on goal, Angking forced Aviza into a tough save from his knees. It should’ve been the opening goal of the game if not for the heroics of the rookie goalkeeper.
OCB has several players whose MLS rights are owned by Orlando City this year and, more importantly, they’re playing. As the season goes on, more players will undoubtedly shine and show that they have a future with the first team. While it’s still early in the year, Tablante, Rivera, and Aviza are the three players that have been the most noticeable for OCB.