After nine games, Orlando City B has had some bright spots in its first MLS NEXT Pro season. One of those bright spots is striker Jack Lynn, who is on a record-setting goal-scoring pace and in great form this season.
Lynn was drafted by Orlando City with the 18th overall selection in the 2022 MLS SuperDraft out of the University of Notre Dame. Prior to playing for the Fighting Irish, Lynn played for the St. Louis FC academy and for St. Louis Scott Gallagher, an academy that produced United States Men’s National Team players Josh Sargent and Tim Ream.
Orlando City signed Lynn to a one-year, first-team contract on Feb. 16, with club options for 2023, 2024, and 2025. With the return of Alexandre Pato and the addition of Ercan Kara, it was unlikely that Lynn would play much for the first team this season. But OCB provided a chance to hone his skills so that he could eventually be a regular for the MLS side.
The rookie got off to a great start in his OCB career, netting a brace in a 2-0 win over Chicago Fire FC II. However, he didn’t score in OCB’s next three games, though he did contribute an assist on Moises Tablante’s goal in the 2-2 draw against NYCFC II in the team’s second game.
Part of the goal drought was that Lynn didn’t take part in two games for the team. The forward has been in the first team for eight games this season and played in two — one MLS and one U.S. Open Cup game. In fact, he’s the only player from the Lions’ last two draft classes to make a first-team appearance.
Following the draw with NYCFC II on April 3, OCB failed to score a goal in the next four games. That drought could’ve been five games if a game against Rochester New York FC wasn’t postponed due to the host’s delay in finishing its stadium. Lynn wouldn’t have played in that game either, as he was with the first team for its game the following night at Exploria Stadium against Charlotte FC.
After missing OCB’s May 16 clash against Philadelphia Union II, Lynn rejoined the squad for the May 21 game against Inter Miami II. He got off to a great start, scoring in the sixth minute of what became a 6-0 win for OCB — the largest win in OCB’s five-year history and the first time the team won a match by more than three goals.
Goals by Wilfredo Rivera and Brandon Hackenberg gave the Young Lions a 3-0 lead over their Florida rivals, but Lynn wasn’t done. He went on to score goals in the 63rd and 85th minutes to complete the first hat trick in OCB team history.
The following game, a 5-3 home loss to FC Cincinnati 2, Lynn added two more goals to his tally. The first was a 24th-minute goal off a counter attack that gave the Young Lions a 2-1 lead and the second was a 64th-minute penalty conversion.
The striker scored for the third-straight game Saturday night against NYCFC II in a 1-1 draw. His 14th-minute goal off a free kick by Nick Taylor made him the second player in OCB history to score in three consecutive games — Hadji Barry scored in four consecutive games during the 2017 USL season.
With six goals in his last three games, Lynn now leads MLS NEXT Pro in goals, with eight. He’s scored one more goal than Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez of Tacoma Defiance and Jacen Russell-Rowe of Columbus Crew 2. He’s also done it in fewer games. While Lynn has only appeared seven times for OCB, Ocampo-Chavez has played 11 times for Tacoma and Russell-Rowe has played nine times for Crew 2.
In addition to being on track to win the scoring title in his first professional season, Lynn is closing in on some OCB records. Michael Cox has the team’s single-season scoring record, netting 11 goals in 28 appearances in 2016. Barry came close the following season, scoring 10 goals in 18 games. Lynn currently has eight goals but there are still 15 games remaining in the regular season.
The striker is even closing in on the team’s all-time goal scoring mark. Barry currently holds that, scoring 14 goals in 28 games in 2016 and 2017. Cox is one behind, with 13 goals in 45 games during the same two seasons.
Orlando City fans who only watch the first team have only seen glimpses of Lynn in action during preseason and his two brief appearances since. But the striker has been on a roll for OCB and continues to be a constant threat.
“I think he’s doing a great job,” OCB Head Coach Martin Perelman said about Lynn’s form following the team’s draw with NYCFC II. “He’s working so hard for that. He’s a very (humble) player, person, and very talented. He’s working a lot to improve himself so I think he deserves that.”