Photo courtesy Mark Thor / Orlando City B
Orlando City B aimed to continue the club’s history in the USL as it joined for the 2016 season, and despite a late slide that almost cost it a playoff berth, Coach Anthony Pulis’ side earned its spot in the postseason in the final game of the regular season before falling to eventual champions the New York Red Bulls II.
The season could be counted a successful one, then, as the side not only competed well on the field, but also saw a pair of players make the move to Orlando’s MLS squad in midseason. On top of that, the likes of young standouts Pierre Da Silva, Michael Cox and others could bring even more to the table in the club’s second season.
Record: 9-13-8, 35pts
Place: Eighth in the Eastern Conference
Goals For: 35
Goals Against: 49
USL Cup Playoffs: Eastern Conference Quarterfinals (L 4-0 at New York Red Bulls II)
2016 leaders: Michael Cox (11 goals), Pierre Da Silva (5 assists), Mark Ridgers (106 saves)
After taking about a month to find a rhythm, Orlando put in an impressive run of form from the start of May to the beginning of August that saw the side go 7-2-6 and provided the platform for their postseason berth. Da Silva, a U.S. U19 international, provided creativity in the final third. Cox was a revelation as he recorded 11 goals. Mark Ridgers was outstanding in goal as he recorded a league-leading 106 saves.
It almost went completely wrong late in the season for OCB, as some of its players appeared to hit a wall, and absences for international and MLS duty started to take a toll. The side went on an eight-game winless streak that almost cost it a place in the playoffs, only for the sides that sat in pursuit to also enter a tailspin, allowing the side the clinch its spot on the final day of the season.
Michael Cox came through with timely goals throughout Orlando’s nine-game undefeated run midseason, among them this stoppage-time winner against Toronto FC II.
Pierre Da Silva claimed the No. 15 spot in the USL 20 Under 20 this summer in part because of his quality passing and movement in the final third, with this finish against Charlotte a fine example.
Mark Ridgers led the USL with 106 saves in the regular season, and some by the Scottish goalkeeper were of the highest order such as this on the road against Louisville City FC.
Ridgers’ ability to get down to make saves was tested regularly as Orlando allowed the third-most shots on goal in the league. His reactions were brought to the fore with this stop against Charleston.
“The players deserve a lot of credit. Any expansion team in an inaugural season, I think it’s shown before it doesn’t matter what level, it’s very difficult to achieve success. Obviously the players deserve a lot of credit, there’s a lot of moving parts within this team, players moving back and forward from the MLS group so to achieve continuity is almost impossible so I think it’s a fantastic achievement and everybody should be very proud of themselves.” – Orlando City B Head Coach Anthony Pulis