Orlando City B finished its first home stretch of 2019 Friday night as it now prepares for its first road game in Texas this week. Facing FC Tucson, Toronto FC II, South Georgia Tormenta FC, and Forward Madison FC, the Young Lions lost three of the four games, with their only point coming in a draw against Tormenta FC. With four games played, what have we learned about this young team so far?
Early Learning Experiences
The most obvious takeaway from the first two games was the poor decision making. Both games showed the team’s inexperience as moments were too big for the young players. In the first game, as the intensity increased, poor decision-making led to fouls in dangerous areas and, eventually, a bad challenge from Randy Mendoza that resulted in a straight red card.
Against Toronto, the same problem arose, with the most glaring example being when Emmanuel Hagan gave the ball away and responded with a challenge for his second yellow card of the game. In both games, the red cards were a deciding factor as the opponents were able to control the remainder of play and take all three points.
“Sometimes with a team without experience, these things happen because they have too much passion to play the sport,” OCB Head Coach Fernando Jose De Argila Irurita said after the second game. “They don’t have the experience to control emotions.”
In the following two games, the experience paid off. When the intensity rose, the players didn’t respond as they had previously, instead focusing on the task at hand. The most obvious example came in the most recent game against Forward Madison FC. After a loss of possession in the final third, Nathan Simeon remained on foot to challenge the attacker rather than leaving his feet, which would’ve likely resulted in a red card. Instead, the result was a goal kick.
Maintaining Their Identity
OCB considers its identity to be using possession to control the tempo and rhythm of the game, something that it’s been able to do at times but not consistently. While the team ended up chasing the first two games a man down, it took the lead in the last two matches. The opponents came back in each of these games, with Tormenta FC scoring four minutes into second half injury time and Madison coming back to get the 2-1 win.
Maintaining the team’s identity throughout the game, especially when the Young Lions have the lead, has been pointed out by the coaches as something that the team needs to continue working on.
“We need to continue believing in the identity and we need to continue defending forward,” OCB Assistant Coach Jose Silva Caparros said after the draw against Tormenta FC. “We cannot drop the team inside our own box against a team that is taller than you.”
“We need to follow our identity for 90 minutes,” Irurita added sternly the following week. “Not just for 45 minutes.”
Lack of Goals
OCB has only scored three goals in its first four games, but it’s not for a lack of opportunities. Terrific buildup through the midfield has provided opportunities for the strikers but too many of the shots have been off target. In the first two games, the Young Lions out-shot opponents, but 10 of those shots in each game were off target. This statistic has improved over the previous two games, with only five shots off target against Tormenta FC and six against Madison, despite having a similar number of total shots.
The lack of goals can be widely attributed to the lack of production by the strikers. The team has been playing with three up top, usually William Bagrou, Ates Diouf, and Koby Osei-Wusu, but only Osei-Wusu has found the net more than once so far this season. This lack of production has led to young midfielders like Jordan Bender and Luc Granitur saying they feel the need to try to provide a spark by scoring.
Making things more difficult going forward are the injuries that have occurred. Bagrou, Diouf, and Osei-Wusu started each of the first three games but both Bagrou and Diouf came off injured the past two weeks. Bagrou suffered a concussion in the final minutes against Tormenta FC, which may keep him sidelined for a few weeks. Diouf then came off injured with a lower back injury Friday night. While the team’s medical staff deemed it not serious, it’s still a concern for the team going forward.
Young Midfielders Shining Brightly
Most Orlando City fans will have their eyes this season on 17-year-old midfielder Bender and 16-year-old midfielder Granitur. The two early signings for OCB have been the most promoted players to come out of the academy and both are seen as potential first-team players.
It’s been a difficult start for Bender, who spent much of the preseason with the first team. An ankle injury kept him out of the first game against FC Tucson and the third game against Tormenta FC, while he didn’t get off the bench Friday night against Madison. The 73 minutes he played against Toronto FC II showed what the team has been missing in his absence. He was the most dangerous player on the field for the Young Lions, causing trouble for the Reds’ back line and creating opportunities for his strikers.
Granitur came off the bench in limited minutes during the first two games of the season, playing fewer than 15 minutes in each one. He was about to come on again late against Tormenta FC but was pulled back for tactical reasons. Friday night, he started his first professional game and went 90 minutes.
The 16-year-old showed flashes of what he could do in the first two games, though he was playing against tired opponents. He made much less of a difference when he was on the field for 90 minutes, although he did draw the penalty that led to OCB’s only goal. At such a young age, you can see why he was brought into OCB as he has shown the promise that the club teased. While not as far along as Bender and some other players, he appears to have a high ceiling going forward.
Through four games, nearly all of the players on the 28-man roster have appeared, with 24 being provided minutes and 22 starting. Rafael Santos and Jahlane Forbes have yet to appear due to injury. Only five players — Diouf, Osei-Wusu, Simeon, Serginho, and Steven Hernandez — have appeared in all four games.
The reason for the different lineups is simply that OCB is a team for development rather than a team looking for results. While the players want to win, the focus continues to be on developing the players for the next level.
“We work for the young,” Irurita said about his team. “We’re not trying to compete with all of the professional players. We’re trying to have a level of play that is higher than in the academy league games so they (the players) evolve faster.”
With the continued focus of the team, you will be unlikely to see a consistent lineup in the near future. While this makes it difficult for the players to achieve their desired results, it adds the competition that helps the players develop quicker and improve.
“It’s a lot of competition every day,” Brazilian defender Matheus Silva said.
A Goalkeeping Standout
A player that Orlando City fans may be familiar with is Juliano Chade. The Brazilian goalkeeper is on loan from Athletico Paranaense and has started to make a name for himself in USL League One. After the team started Luca Mancuso and Christian Herrera in the first two games, Chade got his first start against Tormenta FC, coming away with USL League One Team of the Week and Save of the Week honors. His 10 saves currently rank third in the league behind Madison’s Ryan Coulter (11) and the Chattanooga Red Wolves’ Alex Mangels (12).
Given the purpose of OCB, it’s likely that we’ll see more of Mancuso and Herrera in the future. Both of these goalkeepers also had strong games and fans should be excited to see each develop as the season continues. But after the completion of the first home stand, Chade has come away as one of the early stars of the team. He will definitely be a player to keep an eye on as the season continues.
Orlando City B has completed its first home stand of the season, providing the first glimpses of several players that may dress for the first team in the future. The growth and development is already noticeable and will continue to be as the season wears on.
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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