ORLANDO, Fla. (November 2, 2016) - Following its inaugural season in the United Soccer League (USL), Orlando City B has re-signed defender Zach Ellis-Hayden and goalkeeper Jake Fenlason to new contracts, pending USL and federation approval. OCB captain Lewis Neal, midfielder Pierre Da Silva and forward Michael Cox will return to the team on existing contracts for the 2017 season.
Additionally, OCB has declined the contract options on goalkeeper Mark Ridgers, defenders Kyle McFadden, Craig Nitti and Antonio Matarazzo, midfielders Alejandro Garcia, Johnny Mendoza, Marius Obekop and Andrew Ribeiro, and forwards William Eyang and Keegan Smith.
“I'd like to thank the guys who are moving on for all their hard work and the way they represented OCB so well to help us reach the playoffs in our inaugural season,” OCB Head Coach Anthony Pulis said. “I have great respect for all of them and wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors.”
Ellis-Hayden, 24, registered an outstanding season with OCB. After starting the first three games of the season, Ellis-Hayden worked his way back into the lineup in June and started all but two of the Lions’ final 18 games, including their USL Cup first-round playoff match. The right back contributed to four of OCB’s five clean sheets and earned two assists.
Fenlason, 23, spent much of 2016, his first year as a professional, in a back-up roll after enjoying a successful collegiate career at the University of Akron. In 2014, Fenlason was a first-team All-Mid-American Conference selection after starting all 21 games for the Zips and leading the conference in saves (73) and shutouts (7). In 2015, Fenlason played every minute for Akron and posted nine clean sheets en route to the NCAA Final Four.
Neal earned 23 starts in 25 matches this season for OCB. The 35-year-old MLS veteran captained the young Lions this season and scored two goals and two assists, including a stunning strike from distance to ice the playoff-clinching win in Bethlehem.
Cox, 24, enjoyed an excellent season with the Lions. The Calgary, Alberta, native started 24 of his 29 matches for OCB and led all outfield players in minutes. Cox also led the team with 11 goals and contributed three assists, including the game-winning assist to clinch a playoff berth in the regular season finale.
Da Silva is one of the Club’s most promising young talents. The 18-year-old midfielder made 17 starts among 22 appearances while splitting time with the U.S. U-17 and U-19 national teams and led the Lions with five assists to go with two goals.
“We are in the midst of planning for 2017 and really excited to be able to bring these players back,” Pulis continued. “Our goal is to build a solid roster for next year that will allow us to not only continue being competitive, but also develop young players for the Club’s future success.”
Orlando City B Roster Status:
Michael Cox - Returning on existing contract
Pierre Da Silva - Returning on existing contract
Lewis Neal - Returning on existing contract
Zach Ellis-Hayden - Returning on re-negotiated contract
Jake Fenlason- Returning on re-negotiated contract
William Eyang - Option not exercised
Alejandro Garcia - Option not exercised
Antonio Matarazzo - Option not exercised
Kyle McFadden - Option not exercised
Johnny Mendoza - Option not exercised
Craig Nitti - Option not exercised
Marius Obekop - Option not exercised
Andrew Ribeiro - Option not exercised
Mark Ridgers - Option not exercised
Keegan Smith - Option not exercised