There’s no way around it, Orlando City B is a young team. On the 25-man roster, 14 players are teenagers and the oldest is 25 years old. When you have a young team, the two biggest problems you’re going to see are consistent concentration and pressure. It’s a problem that’s plagued the Young Lions each of the last two seasons.
While OCB was slightly older in 2019 than it is this season, consistency was still a problem. The team gave up late goals on several occasions, most notably on April 14 when it gave up a late equalizer against South Georgia Tormenta FC and on June 12 when it conceded two goals in three minutes to end the first half against FC Tucson. Maintaining concentration throughout the entire 90 minutes was a problem routinely brought up by former coach Fernando De Argila Irurita last year.
Another problem last year was maintaining a press. This is a difficult thing for any player to do, but especially younger players. When an attacking player loses the ball in the final third, his natural reaction is to retreat into a defensive position. OCB is trying to teach the players to maintain their attacking position in an attempt to force the opponent into a mistake.
These two problems have been on display again this year. Fielding an even younger team than last year, the press came and went as players struggled concentrating on tasks throughout the entire 90 minutes. While that’s expected with such a young team, it’s something that OCB Head Coach Marcelo Neveleff will look to eradicate.
Against New England Revolution II and Fort Lauderdale CF, Moises Tablante was able to maintain possession long enough to hit the runs by the forwards, especially Wilfredo Rivera. That resulted in the 19-year-old playmaker accumulating three assists in two games The team struggled with this aspect in the second half against Fort Lauderdale and against FC Tucson last week.
Defensively, the young back line struggled to maintain the necessary cohesiveness to keep the opponent off the board. Against New England and Fort Lauderdale, it played with good communication and avoided any breakaways on goal. That wasn’t the case against FC Tucson as Azaad Liadi and Shak Adams made their way through the back line on multiple occasions, especially in the first half. And it wasn’t the case Sunday night against Forward Madison.
Concentration and continuing to press are issues Neveleff focused on after the team’s 4-1 loss to Tucson. “We need to concentrate a little bit more on our tasks,” the head coach said after the loss. “And work a little bit more cohesively to press the same way we did in the first half against Fort Lauderdale.”
It’s difficult to compare these last two seasons. Most of the players who played regularly in 2019 were USL players or on loan with the club. Only three of those players (Moises Tablante, Jose Quintero, and Austin Amer) have made their way onto the 2020 roster. This year’s team features far more players whose MLS rights are owned by the club.
These aspects of the team make it more important to see improvement this season. The core of last year’s team included loaned players from Brazil, like Thiago Souza and Leonardo Simas, as well as other players that were not expected to return. This year’s team is largely made up of players being developed for Orlando City’s first team.
With a team that regularly features six teenage starters, there are certain things that are going to be more difficult. So you shouldn’t expect the team to eradicate these problems overnight. However, last year those problems lasted the entire season. OCB will hope that isn’t the case in 2020.