You have excellent taste. I know this because you're here reading The Mane Land. This means you love soccer, and love reading about soccer. As such, you deserve to read articles that will satisfy your thirst for soccer intelligence and fulfill your emotional football needs. Having been on this staff for six months now, I truly believe that this site delivers all that you require.
But while you wait for those articles to be posted, I'm glad you clicked here. In this space, we'll take a weekly look at the state of OCB and all the goings-on in Melbourne. The format will be small, somewhat disjointed segments that relate (sometimes loosely) to our beloved USL team. It won't be a game recap, as that's already done, but it will be an OCB-centric look at soccer, food, fun, and life in general.
I haven't yet figured on the best name for this segment. Some early candidates are "The B Report," "OCD with OCB," or "The Burple Report", but I'm leaning towards "The B-List." If you have any particular opinion on the matter, feel free to chime in on comments below. The winner gets a free high-five at the next OCB game.
Speaking of OCB games, last week it was a dark and stormy night. Again. Seriously, it feels as if part of the starting lineup for OCB is thunder and lightning. And at striker … Zeus (only if Zeus was indecisive and sucked at crosses). As detailed in the aforementioned recap, OCB came away with its first ever point, yet, that doesn't tell the full story of the evening — an evening that in many ways mirrored the weather.
Last week, I critiqued the team and the field for not selling beer. Well, in week two, it seems like they listened — and promptly kicked an own goal. It seems that the "strategy," such as it is, is to invite food trucks in to take care of the concessions. This sounds great on the surface, but is failing miserably in practice.
Apparently, the agreement is that the food trucks have an option on whether or not to attend, but have no obligation to do so. So, when my wife and I showed up with our two young daughters, with the intention of eating dinner at the field, we were dismayed to find that the only truck there was an ice cream truck. Oh, did I mention that the trucks are inside the gate and that there is no re-entry?
And so, we were faced with the decision to either let the kids go hungry or give them ice cream and cookies for dinner (we chose the latter and promptly became the coolest parents ever, if only briefly).
Presumably, Eastern Florida State College is responsible for the concessions, and not the team, but Orlando City should realize that it is their product on the field and the public doesn’t care who is responsible. Fortunately, they realized the issue and waived the re-entry policy, thus allowing us to skip out and grab a burrito from across the street, but this has to be addressed.
Not having beer is one thing — I'm not saying you have to have beer to have a good time, but this is a professional sporting event, and most people enjoy a refreshing brew at these types of things — but not having food is a serious problem. My wife correctly pointed out that we would have more options at an Eau Gallie High game.
Quick side note: the lady that ran the gelato truck was extremely nice, and had a fantastic Nutella gelato, that I would highly recommend to anyone attending. I also think she killed it as pretty much everyone was walking around with an ice cream.
While the team needs to address the food and beverage issue, there's nothing the club can do about the weather (though I still believe that these are somehow cosmically related and OCB won't win a game until beer is sold). Proving that that some people can learn from past mistakes, though, this week, the university opened up the gym to those seeking shelter from the storm.
As we strolled in, some of the EFSC basketball players were playing a bit of 3-on-3. Suddenly, what started as a casual, quiet Friday night pick-up game turned into a high intensity game in front of throngs of spectators chanting "D-FENCE" and cheering every play. This would have been simply a nice footnote about a fun rain delay distraction, but unfortunately, it proved to be the greatest athletic spectacle of the night.
Two games does not a season make, but we may have to consider the possibility that this OCB team is not particularly good. There have been some bright spots, and goalkeeper Mark Ridgers' performance in the last game definitely falls under that category. Yet, the early returns have not been very promising.
Chief among the disappointments has been the play of Bryan Rochez. As the starting lineups were announced, I found myself wondering why he wasn't among them. My query would be answered after he came on in the 71st minute. Rochez's performance was less than inspiring, as in his brief time his greatest impact was botching a promising counter attack and making the wrong read on a late scoring chance.
It's fair to have high expectations for a player who was signed as a Designated Player for the MLS squad and who is currently playing in the USL. Hopefully this is a matter of needing some acclimatization for his new players, and not representative of his attitude for not being on the first team.
Setting the Table
OCB’s point now puts the team 11th in the Eastern Conference, ahead of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, FC Montreal, and Harrisburg City Islanders, each of which has zero points. It should be noted that Pittsburgh and Montreal have only played one game each. OCB is tied with Toronto FC II, but Toronto holds the edge in goal differential (0 to OCB’s -1).
OCB’s next game will be its first road game, and the first game against last year’s OCSC affiliate, Louisville City FC. Louisville won its first game, 1-0, against the Charlotte Independence, but lost last week against New York Red Bulls II. Like OCB, the Royals have scored one goal, and let in two. The game is Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. and our Jeff Milby will be there to cover it.
This has been a fairly negative post, and perhaps that's because things simply did not go well last week. There was little positive to talk about. Still, I don't want to be completely down, so let's end this on a positive note.
Looking at the MLS standings, last year’s Eastern Conference finalists, New York Red Bulls and Columbus Crew SC are eighth and 10th in the East, respectively. In the West, the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders, also last year’s semifinal representatives, are sitting at the bottom of the table. While team history is no guarantee of future success, it’s a pretty good bet that at least a couple of these teams will find their mojo again and start winning soccer games.
In other words, it's waaaaaay too early to write anyone off. OCB may come back next week and crush it. I believe they will sort out their concession issues and eventually play a game without lightning.
Either way, I'll still be watching next week and attending the next home game on the 16th. I hope to see you there.
Until then, keep reading the B-List (or whatever we end up calling it).
Orlando City B Announces Schedule for 2024 MLS NEXT Pro Season
Discover where, when, and who Orlando City B will play during the 2024 MLS NEXT Pro season.
The 2024 MLS NEXT Pro schedule was released this afternoon for Orlando City B. This season will see an increase from 27 to 29 teams in the league with the additions of Carolina Core FC and Chattanooga FC — the first independent clubs in the league since 2022. The schedule remains at 28 games, with each team playing 14 at home and 14 away. Most OCB home games will take place at Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee, but the location of the home opener against Inter Miami II has yet to be announced.
OCB will start the 2024 season with a two-game road trip, beginning on March 16 against Atlanta United 2 and concluding on March 22 against Huntsville City FC. The home opener against Inter Miami II will take place on April 2 with a location to be determined in the near future. The season will end on the road as well, as the Young Lions will face FC Cincinnati 2 at TQL Stadium, home of the first team, on Oct. 6. The Eastern Conference games on Decision Day will all begin at 1 p.m.
MLS NEXT Pro has decided to change its division format to include the new teams. OCB will be a part of the new Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference, including Atlanta United 2, Huntsville City FC, Inter Miami II, Crown Legacy FC, Carolina Core FC, and Chattanooga FC. Chicago Fire II, Columbus Crew 2, and FC Cincinnati 2, former members of the Central Division with OCB, will move to the Northeast Division.
For the third consecutive season, MLS NEXT Pro teams will only play opponents from their own conference, limiting travel. The Young Lions will play each team in the Southeast Division three times and the teams from the Northeast Division once. The exceptions are New York Red Bulls II and New York City FC II, who they’ll face twice this year.
The busiest month for OCB this season will be in April when it plays five games. The Young Lions will play four games in May, June, July, August, and September, twice in March, and once in October. The team will compete on all seven days of the week this season. The most common day the Young Lions will play is on Sunday (13 games), which was expected since the first team usually plays on Saturday. Additionally, they have five games on Saturday, three games each on Wednesday and Friday, two games on Thursday, and one game on Monday and Tuesday.
The addition of two teams sees an expansion of the playoffs from 14 to 16 teams. The top four seeds in each conference will host the first round and, for the second consecutive season, pick their opponents. The highest remaining seed will pick its opponent in the second round, setting up the conference semifinal matchups. The postseason will include 15 games this year, concluding with the MLS NEXT Pro Cup.
The rules from the 2023 season are returning to MLS NEXT Pro for the third consecutive year. The league has been a place for MLS to try out new ideas, some of which are included in the top division this season. Once again, games tied after 90 minutes will go directly to a shootout for an additional point. Rules regarding players receiving treatment, serving red card suspensions against the same team, and substitutes leaving the field within 10 seconds all remain in place this year.
The majority of regular season games and all Decision Day games will again air on Apple TV’s MLS Season Pass. The remaining games will be streamed live on mlsnextpro.com.
Orlando City B’s 2024 Schedule
- Saturday, March 16 at Atlanta United 2, 3 p.m.
- Friday, March 22 at Huntsville City FC, 8 p.m.
- Tuesday, April 2 vs. Inter Miami CF II, 7 p.m.
- Thursday, April 11 at Philadelphia Union II, 4 p.m.
- Sunday, April 14 vs. Carolina Core FC, 3 p.m.
- Friday, April 19 at Crown Legacy FC, 7:30 p.m.
- Sunday, April 28 vs. Toronto FC II, 3 p.m.
- Saturday, May 4 at Chattanooga FC, 5 p.m.
- Wednesday, May 8 vs. New York Red Bulls II, 7 p.m.
- Wednesday, May 15 at Columbus Crew 2, 12 p.m.
- Sunday, May 26 vs. Huntsville City FC, 6 p.m.
- Sunday, June 2 at Inter Miami CF II, 6 p.m.
- Thursday, June 13 vs Chattanooga FC, 7 p.m.
- Wednesday, June 26 vs. Atlanta United 2, 7 p.m.
- Saturday, June 29 at New York City FC II, 8:30 p.m.
- Sunday, July 7 vs. Carolina Core FC, 7 p.m.
- Sunday, July 14 vs Inter Miami CF II, 7 p.m.
- Sunday, July 21 at New York Red Bulls II, 7 p.m.
- Saturday, July 27 at Chattanooga FC, 7 p.m.
- Saturday, Aug. 3 at Carolina Core FC, 7:30 p.m.
- Sunday, Aug. 11 vs. Crown Legacy FC, 5 p.m.
- Sunday, Aug. 18 vs. New York City FC II, 7 p.m.
- Friday, Aug. 23 at Atlanta United 2, 7:30 p.m.
- Sunday, Sept. 1 vs. Huntsville City FC, 7 p.m.
- Sunday, Sept. 8 at Crown Legacy FC, 3 p.m.
- Sunday, Sept. 15 vs. New England Revolution II, 5 p.m.
- Monday, Sept. 23 vs. Chicago Fire II, 5 p.m.
- Sunday, Oct. 6 at FC Cincinnati 2, 1 p.m.
Orlando City Signs Defender Tahir Reid-Brown to Homegrown Player Contract
Orlando City has signed teenage defender Tahir Reid-Brown to a Homegrown Player contract.
Orlando City announced this afternoon that the club has signed defender Tahir Reid-Brown to a first-team contract. The four-year deal runs through the 2027 season with a club option for 2028. Reid-Brown becomes the 15th player to sign a Homegrown contract with the club.
“Tahir is a player that has been in our academy system for a while now and someone that we’ve seen really grow through our development pathway,” Orlando City Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Luiz Muzzi said in a club press release. “He has great potential for growth as a player and we’re excited to see how he takes his opportunity with the first team.”
The 17-year-old joined the Orlando City Development Academy in 2020 and quickly rose through the ranks, signing an academy contract with OCB for the 2022 season. In two seasons with the MLS NEXT Pro side, Reid-Brown has made 16 appearances with four starts and recorded 409 minutes. Most of those appearances occurred in 2023, when the defender made 10 appearances and one start.
Reid-Brown also made 13 appearances in the academy during 2023, helping the U-17 team reach the MLS NEXT Cup semifinals for the third consecutive year. His time with the academy team saw him named to the 2023 MLS NEXT All-Star Game, the third Orlando City player to receive the honor.
Internationally, Reid-Brown has been a part of the United States Men’s National Team youth setup. He made his debut for the U.S. in November 2022 and was named to the 2023 FIFA Under-17 World Cup squad, making three appearances in the competition.
What It Means for Orlando City
Reid-Brown is a recent star in the Orlando City academy, joining in 2020 at 14 years old. This past year was a big one for him in which he became a regular for his national side and on the OCB team sheet. At just 17 years old, the 6-foot-2 defender still has a lot of development before he’ll make regular first-team appearances, but this signing makes him available for selection if necessary.
Before he becomes a first-team regular, Reid-Brown will need to become a regular with the second team. In addition to his 10 appearances, he was an unused substitute 14 times in 2023. The regular starting center backs were Abdi Salim and Nabi Kibunguchy with Franco Perez at left back — the two positions Reid-Brown plays. He’ll be looking to work his way into the starting lineup for the Young Lions this coming season.
Whether Reid-Brown becomes a regular center back or left back remains to be seen. The club also has a Homegrown center back in 19-year-old Thomas Williams, but he’s seen a significant dip in playing time with OCB and hasn’t been impressive while on the field. Reid-Brown could take over Williams’ spot as the up-and-coming defender with a strong 2023 MLS NEXT Pro season.
Top 10 Moments of 2023: Jack Lynn Named MLS NEXT Pro MVP
Our No. 5 moment of the year features Orlando City’s Jack Lynn being named MVP of MLS NEXT Pro and earning a share of the league’s Golden Boot.
As we count down to the new year of 2024 — which will be Orlando City’s 10th in MLS and the Orlando Pride’s ninth in the NWSL — and say goodbye to 2023, it’s time to look back at the club’s 10 best moments of the year as selected by The Mane Land staff via vote.
Jack Lynn no doubt entered his second pro season looking to get more first-team minutes. He had an excellent rookie season in MLS NEXT Pro with Orlando City B in 2022, setting an OCB single-season record with 15 goals and staying in the league’s Golden Boot race up until the final few matches of the season. He saw five minutes of action with the first team, and with a strong year with the reserve side, it’s likely the young striker felt he was ready to step into a larger role in 2023.
Lynn joined Orlando City through the 2022 MLS SuperDraft, when he was selected in the first round by the Lions with the No. 18 overall pick. He was then signed to a one-year deal in February of last year with options for the next three years.
But Lynn didn’t see much more time with the MLS Lions in 2023. He made three appearances with the senior side, all of which came as a substitute, and finished with 33 minutes played. On the attacking end, he won four aerial duels, took one shot, which was on target, drew two fouls, and completed three long balls while passing with 76% accuracy. He did not score a goal or assist on one. Defensively, he recorded one interception and two clearances, while committing one foul.
As in 2022, the majority of Lynn’s season was spent in MLS NEXT Pro with Orlando City B. He had a phenomenal year in the developmental league, and his campaign finished with him piling up the accolades for his play on the pitch. He finished the season with a share of the Golden Boot with his 19 goals. He was also named to the league’s Best XI for the second consecutive season. However, his biggest prize yet was being named MLS NEXT Pro Most Valuable Player on Oct. 20.
Lynn played in 26 of the Young Lions’ 28 games this past season, 19 of which were starts, and he racked up 1,760 minutes. He also played in OCB’s postseason loss at Columbus Crew 2. On the offensive end, he took 72 shots and put 40 of them on target, scored 19 goals, drew 15 fouls, and passed with 74% accuracy while completing 13 long balls and 12 key passes (but, surprisingly, no assists). Defensively, he recorded three interceptions, committed 16 fouls, and was shown four yellow cards.
Although the young striker wasn’t named MLS NEXT Pro Player of the Matchday at any point in the 2023 season, he did win Goal of the Matchday once — against Chicago Fire II on July 23. It was, by Lynn’s standards, a typical goal. He made a smart run, attacked the ball in the air, and headed it past the goalkeeper.
Lynn added a second goal in the 72nd minute and the Young Lions went on to win 3-2 that day.
The 23-year-old was a vital piece of Martin Perelman’s attack for OCB throughout the season, helping the Young Lions reach the postseason for only the second time ever and the first time since joining MLS NEXT Pro. To capture the trophy as the league’s most valuable player is a major honor for Lynn and shows how vital he was to OCB’s success during the 2023 season.
That accomplishment is certainly worthy of being immortalized among our top moments for the club in 2023.
Come back through New Year’s Eve as we count down the remainder of Orlando City’s top 10 moments of 2023.
Previous Top Moments of 2023
10. The Orlando Pride select breakout stars Emily Madril and Messiah Bright in the 2023 NWSL Draft.
9. OCB draws at Chicago and then wins a shootout, clinching its first playoff spot since 2016.
8. Orlando Pride dump Portland Thorns 3-1 in June, kick-starting the team’s push for the playoffs.
7. Orlando City gets a late goal to defeat Santos Laguna 3-2 in Leagues Cup play, earning its first win over Liga MX competition.
6. Orlando Pride sign Brazilian international Adriana.
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