I missed writing up last week's OCB match because there was just too much going on. I'm making an official plea to anyone in the Harbor City Hooligans or who is a season ticket holder for OCB that wants to try your hand at writing your own observations, reflections, and opinions about OCB on a match-by-match or weekly basis. I'd like to be able to have consistent fan-produced content about OCB on the blog every week, but as long as I have a day job I simply don't have time to cover all the teams myself.
Last night I went downtown for the Orlando Pride meet-and-greet and what was supposed to be movie night at the Walt Disney Ampitheater at Lake Eola. However, I took some items to get autographed, and when rain clouds began moving in close enough to start spitting drops, I decided to leave before the movie started in order to get home and watch the OCB match and also to protect the fresh autographs.
- Tyler Turner - Tyler was one of the young pups that Orlando City brought into the MLS first team in 2015, and he saw very limited action. He has a ton of talent and showed some great promise last year, but like so many of the young players he was a bit erratic in terms of playing to his strengths and keeping his emotions in check. He was ejected from the match at Seattle in mid-August last season and didn't see any more minutes on the pitch with the MLS side. But last night we saw how another year of growth and practice and maturity has served him. He was all over the pitch last night and it seemed he was involved in every build-up OCB created. Early on he nearly scored a goal knocking the ball off the near side post as he ran in deep into the Pittsburgh area, and in the 39th minute he finally found the back of the net. In the second half he scored again in the 67th minute to give OCB a 2 - nil lead at the point that proved too much for Pittsburgh to equal.
- Hadji Barry - After making some early contributions with the MLS side as a late-game substitute, rookie draftee Hadji Barry has been playing more minutes with OCB. He is a consistent creator and playmaker, and as such he seemed to be involved in most of the build-ups last night throughout the match.
- Harrison and Rochez Healing Up - Harrison Heath and Bryan Rochez continue to work themselves back to full fitness, and they both played significant minutes last night. Rochez put in a great first half and played 74 minutes, while Harrison Heath seemed back close to his usual physical style of play as he put in 79 minutes of work.
- Mark Ridgers - Mark Ridgers continues to impress, and he very well could have come out of the match with a clean sheet if it weren't for a reckless foul committed by a defender inside the OCB area during stoppage time at the end of the match. In the 92nd minute Pittsburgh's Romeo Parkes put in a beautifully-struck PK. Ridgers guessed correctly, but because the ball was hit with pace and on target at the corner, he wasn't quite able to leap far enough to block it.
- Late Defensive Lapse - OCB played stellar defense throughout the first seventy minutes of the match. In fact, it wasn't until after Turner's second goal that netminder Ridgers was called upon to make his first save. Of course, one would expect Pittsburgh to begin to throw more attacks at the net in the final minutes once they were down two goals late, but it also seemed that OCB started getting greedy to go for a third goal, and it seemed to leave them open for counter-attacks. By the time the match ended, Ridgers had to make 3 saves, and the poor defending led to the reckless foul in the area that resulted in the PK awarded to Parkes. All the same, I feel a bit cheeky about complaining because there was very little that OCB did that could be considered "bad" in getting their first win. But I almost feel like I have to complain about something, so this is it.
- Balancing Development and Aspirations - Honestly I can't think of anything ugly about this particular match, but the ESPN3 play-by-play announcer brought up something that came out of a conversation with Head Coach Anthony Pulis he had earlier in the week. According to the commentator, Coach Pulis admitted that he had been struggling with trying to balance the twin mandates of developing players for the MLS side and pursuing a USL championship. In watching the first couple of OCB matches, I had been wondering what the club's mandate to Pulis was, and whether they wanted him to pursue a championship or get minutes for the lads that Inchy sent over from the first team every week. It seems that Coach has been trying to do both, and of course that makes his task that much harder. As fans we all want to see our teams win, and it's going to be interesting to see how realistic or easy the task will be for OCB to fulfill both mandates, or if both the club and the fans will settle in to accept that one of those mandates must take priority over the other. As a fan of the club overall, I'm not sure which one I think I'd rather see, and I don't think I could speak for any other fans and what they might wish.
What about you? What were your thoughts from the match last night? Let me know in the comments below!
And please contact me if you would like to write regular columns about OCB for the Lion's Teeth blog! I'd love to see more passionate fans sharing their voices and opinions about the USL side on this site!