An Early Look at Orlando City B
MLS Next Pro is officially a thing that exists in our soccer universe. Orlando City B is back up and running as the developmental squad for the Lions, providing valuable minutes at a quasi professional level for key prospects.
It's been a few weeks since the league kicked off, so how are the baby Lions faring in the new fledgling league?
The young Lions sit just below the playoff line in the Eastern Conference with seven points in five matches. That early "success" has come in large part due to the defensive performance. OCB have conceded the fourth fewest goals in the division, with young goalkeeper Javier Otero leading the league in saves and near the top in save percentage.
Otero is arguably the top prospect with OCB right now, given his impressive performances so far and his imposing 6'6" frame.
Offensively things are a work in progress. Orlando is tied for the third fewest goals scored in the league, and no player has more than two goals, with rookie draft pick Jack Lynn, who made his first team debut on the weekend, leading the way on the scoresheet.
It's been an exciting venue to watch young Puerto Rican international winger Wilfredo Rivera develop as an attacking weapon. The wide man is a star for OCB and a captain, leading the team in assists with two and key passes with six.
We've also seen Thomas Williams make some appearances for the baby Lions before becoming a full time first teamer with the injury to Antonio Carlos.
The real testament to how good OCB does is not wins and losses, but quality players developed. Between Rivera, Otero and plenty of others, there are intriguing pieces in the works. Whether the MLS Next Pro experiment will help them reach that potential and become stars with the first team, though, remains to be seen.