Orlando City SC announced wholesale cuts to Orlando City B players on USL contracts today. Following the club’s second season in the USL, in which it narrowly missed its second straight playoff appearance, OCB has declined the options of all of the following players:
- Defenders Zach Ellis-Hayden, Zach Carroll and Timbó.
- Midfielders Jordan Schweitzer, Danny Deakin — the club’s third-round pick in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft — and Austin Martz.
- Forward Michael Cox.
In addition, the club announced that the contracts of goalkeeper Jake Fenlason, defender Scott Thomsen, and midfielders Paul Clowes and Lewis Neal have expired.
That’s 11 players gone from a roster which often included several MLS loanees, such as Kevin Alston, Seb Hines, Pierre Da Silva, Hadji Barry, Earl Edwards Jr., and others.
“I’d like to thank all the players for their efforts over the course of the year,” OCB Head Coach Anthony Pulis said in a club press release. “They’ve been a fantastic group to work with day in and day out. I’d like to wish all the players good luck with their future endeavors.”
These cuts spare very few of OCB’s USL-contract players. Just forwards Albert Dikwa and Joe Gallardo, defender Youmeni Joules, and midfielder Ryley Kraft survived the purge. The quartet combined for just 42 total appearances for OCB in 2017, including just 24 starts.
The announcement comes in the wake of a bombshell dropped by Sports Illustrated’s Brian Straus late last night, in which he reported an admittedly unconfirmed rumor that OCB would be gone next year.
Unconfirmed, late-night rumor time, b/c why not? Reported while back Whitecaps 2 won't be back in USL in 18. Leaving w/ them: Orlando City B
— Brian Straus (@BrianStraus) October 18, 2017
However, earlier today, Alicia DelGallo of the Orlando Sentinel reported via her Twitter account that Orlando City B will play next year, citing a spokesperson for the club.
Club spokesman told me Orlando City B will play next year. Also writing an OCB column today with some other info, will be up later.
— Alicia Rose DelGallo (@OSAliciaD) October 18, 2017
OCB finished the 2017 season with a 10-10-12 record, just two points behind Bethlehem Steel FC for the final USL Eastern Conference playoff spot. A very late goal in a meeting between the two sides on Aug. 31 was all the difference, as the Steel stole two points from OCB and added one to their own total, with Marcus Epps scoring in the 87th minute in a 1-1 draw at Orlando City Stadium.
Whether OCB returns in its current form — and whether the team plays at Orlando City Stadium again, where it was near the bottom of the USL in attendance — remains to be seen. But if the status quo holds, OCB will need to add quite a few players heading into Year 3.