Last night in Melbourne OCB played their second match of the regular season. Charleston Battery were in town, and once again Orlando City MLS skipper Adrian Heath decided to loan Richie Lareya to OCB for the match, signaling that the young draft pick will probably not be in the matchday 18 selected for Sunday's match against Portland Timbers.
- Goaltender Mark Ridgers - The Scotsman earned his first start for Orlando City B in the match last night, and he had to deal with a wet field, a slick ball, and not the best organized defending that I've seen on a soccer pitch, if I'm honest. Ridgers made a number of great saves, tallying six in all, and he managed to maintain a clean sheet. His play guaranteed a result by keeping Charleston Battery off the board for the entire match. Easily he was my man of the match for the home side.
- Opportunistic Counter-attacks - Orlando City B did get in a few fast counter-attacks, and goaltender Ridgers showed he could help initiate those by sending line-drive goal kicks sailing almost to the 18-yard box of the opponent. The team will have to work on the timing and positioning a bit to help pull that off as Ridgers always out-kicked the streaking attackers in these instances, and sometimes they rolled harmlessly across the end line giving the Charleston keeper an easy goal kick. At other times, the defensive back line of OCB would make a nifty steal off the boot of attacking Battery players and launch a swift counter-attack, but none of those resulted in any goals.
- Analysis by Coach Twelvetrees - Coach Oliver Twelvetrees joined Jeff Radcliffe on the call of the game last night on YouTube. I am a big fan of Tom Traxxler doing color commentary precisely because he is such a "homer" for Orlando City and he gets so excited to see the home team do well. Coach Twelvetrees brought a bit of a different perspective and a bit more subdued demeanor to the broadcast. It is always good to hear more voices bringing their own unique insights to the match.
- Energetic Play - If I'm honest I really am grasping for more positives this week. But OCB was definitely energetic on the pitch last night. Mostly, I thought they were forced into expending a lot of energy through some rather disorganized and sloppy execution throughout most of the match. The match statistics published by OCB would tend to support that opinion: Charleston outshot OCB to the tune of 21 to 3 and led on corner kicks by 4 to 1. Orlando City also accumulated 3 yellow cards during the match, while Charleston received none.
- Poor Possession - USL doesn't publish as robust and complete statistics for each match as does MLS, but the statistics that are available tell their own tale. When your team is outshot 21 to 3, it's pretty clear the other guys are controlling possession in the attacking half of the pitch. And much of Charleston's possession seemed to be generated from sloppy passes and easy giveaways committed by OCB.
- Sloppy Defending - I mentioned in "The Good" section that OCB exhibited energetic play, largely out of necessity. The necessity was generated by some really sloppy defense and bad passing. Charleston seemed to find effective attack lanes for most of the night and penetrated multiple players deep into the attacking half of the pitch, often time getting two or three canary-clad players in the 18-yard box as they set up for attempts on goal. It seemed like only once it was clear that the Battery were in position to strike that OCB defenders began scrambling to try to help defend the goal. But often it wasn't quick enough to prevent Charleston from being able to take at least one shot on goal, but when goalkeeper Mark Ridgers was able to deflect or knock the ball away, often there was a purple shirt to work at trying to clear the ball from the attacking end. However, it must be said those clearance attempts were not always as successful as fans would like to see.
- Bad Passing - The hallmark of new teams is that it's very obvious when players have not had sufficient time to gel and learn each others strengths and tendencies and how to deliver passes to each other effectively. We saw that in the first third of the 2015 season for Orlando City before the squad began to get more comfortable with each other through hours and weeks of daily practice, and it's apparent now with OCB. When I say the passes are bad I don't mean that they necessarily miss their target, but that they thump off of each other and then force the receiving player to go chase the ball before they can do something with it. Good teams can deliver passes that are quickly settled and fall directly at the receiver's feet, but OCB isn't quite there yet. I saw more than one pass that reached the intended target, but went rebounding off the player's chest and before he could chase it down was intercepted by a canary-clad Charleston man to set up another build-up toward our goal.
- Lightning, Lightning Go Away - There have been three matches OCB has played at the Titan Soccer Complex in the last three weeks, and all three have been delayed due to lightning. I can't fault team and league officials for delaying matches on account of player and spectator safety, but it hurts attendance and viewership when people are ready to see a match at a scheduled time and then have to wait for it to start or have to deal with a weather delay once the match gets under way.
- Two Yellows Equal Red - OCB played sloppy on possession, but they were also sloppy on tackling during the match, and that resulted in three bookings for the lads in purple. Unfortunately, the first one (in the sixth minute) and the second one (in the 50th minute) both went against Tony Rocha, who was shown red along with his second yellow and sent to the locker room early, forcing OCB to play a man down for the final 40 minutes of the match. Since my view last night was limited to the camera as I did not attend the match but watched it on YouTube, I cannot blame unequal officiating, as it definitely seemed that OCB was out to play a more physical brand of soccer than Charleston, who didn't see any players booked during the match.
- Lewis Neal Leaving Early - OCB's first substitution came early in the match after only 30 minutes, and it was the Captain, Lewis Neal, who was subbed out. A few moments before he was subbed, Neal had made a dramatic, sliding scissor tackle to take the ball off the feet of a Charleston attacker, and on the broadcast commentary, both Jeff Radcliffe and Coach Twelvetrees speculated if perhaps that had strained something. There has been no official word of any injury from the club as of this writing, and I haven't heard back from a tweet I sent Lewis to ask after his condition. Hopefully it won't be something that will keep him out of any matches if he did feel a bit of a tweak in last night's game.