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Orlando City B’s High Press Leads to Early Success

OCB’s four points from three games comes from its ability to press high.

Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Anyone who has watched Orlando City play under Head Coach Oscar Pareja will have noticed the high press the team plays. The purpose is to put pressure on the opposing defense, making it difficult for them to work the ball out of the back. Those watching Orlando City B the last couple of games might have noticed something similar.

The Young Lions worked the press to perfection during much of the first half Friday night in their 1-1 draw with Fort Lauderdale CF. Moises Tablante, Julian Kennedy, and Wilfredo Rivera worked tirelessly to put pressure on the Herons’ defense. It worked well as the visitors had trouble working the ball out of the back on several occasions.

The pressing paid off in the 22nd minute when the pressure forced a turnover by the Herons. Tablante was able to find Rivera, whose deflected shot found its way into the corner of the goal for his second goal in as many games.

Following the halftime break, the press went away. Rather than keeping pressure after losing the ball in the final third, the team dropped back into a defensive position. This allowed Fort Lauderdale to work the ball forward and create chances. As a result, Fort Lauderdale led OCB in shots, 8-2, in the second half. That was after OCB recorded 11 shots in the first half compared to Fort Lauderdale’s four.

When the teams took a hydration break around the 70th minute, OCB Head Coach Marcelo Neveleff was seen passionately talking to his team. Coming out of that break, the pressure on the Fort Lauderdale back line returned.

While OCB used the high press at times in its 2-0 loss to South Georgia Tormenta FC, it fell off after a while, allowing the hosts to build an attack. The Young Lions didn’t create many chances in that game. The following week against New England Revolution II, you started to see the pressure increase, even before the sending off of New England defender Ryo Shimazaki. That was a key factor in the team’s 2-0 win over Revolution II.

What’s been clear the last two games is that OCB has the ability to press high against opposing defenses and is much more dangerous when it does so. Tablante has been one of the main players chasing the opposition and creating several turnovers. This has been beneficial to him recording three assists in the last two games.

Last year, OCB head coaches Fernando De Argila Irurita and Roberto Sibaja were tormented by the team’s lack of pressure on the opposing defense. It was a difficult season in which the Young Lions ended up with four wins, four draws, and 20 losses. After many of those losses, the head coaches lamented the team’s inability to press high and create turnovers.

This year’s team so far has been much more effective at pressing the opposition and causing them to make mistakes. If the Young Lions continue to press the way they did in New England and in the first half against Fort Lauderdale, this could be a much better season than many are expecting.