KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Sunday began Year Two of Orlando City B’s tenure in MLS NEXT Pro. It also began head coach Martín Perelman’s second year in charge of the young Lions squad that is looking to set a tone in their sophomore season in the league.
Part of that tone, for Perelman, is making sure players and staff understand the role of OCB in the Orlando City hierarchy. The way that he describes, it is that his team plays the role of the belt that holds up the pants of a suit.
“To work in a second team, you need to be clear about who you are, what you do, what is your function, and what is your role?” He said, “Because the function of the belt of the suit is that you cannot wear a suit without one because it’s going to look bad. When you go in the shop, the first thing you look for is not the belt, it’s the suit. That’s the first team. But at the end of the day, you need the belt to keep the suit looking good.”
That close relationship that OCB has with the first team has been an important piece of the puzzle for the Orlando City academy hierarchy. That pathway from academy, to OCB, and eventually to the first team, has been something that Orlando City’s EVP of soccer operations and general manager Luiz Muzzi, assistant GM Ricardo Moreira, and first team head coach Oscar Pareja have spent the last three years working to cultivate.
“I believe this is the main sense of the league and the main sense of us as a club, having a second team to complete the pathway for the Academy players through the first team,” Perelman said, “Our second team helped those Academy players to have a step before the first team, a professional environment where they can get their first experiences, interact with the professional players that we have so they are ready to be an option for the first team coach.”
That pathway paid off last year for Academy product Favian Loyola, who joined OCB from the U-17 team early in the season. After proving himself with the MLS Next Pro side, scoring six goals in 11 games played, he inked a homegrown deal with the first team this past offseason.
For Perelman, this is just the beginning of what he wants to continue with OCB: helping cultivate and nurture the talent coming from the Academy to produce more quality players for the MLS team.
In order to do that successfully, OCB’s head coach utilizes a certain leadership style that he has utilized throughout his career, calling it “service leadership.”
“It means the leader is in service of the players and not the players serving the coach.” Perelman said. “I believe we serve them, and for that, we need to understand that the cultures, the history, and the situation of each player is not the same. “We need to try to understand and read what each player needs from the coach and be the coach that they need individually.
“This is what we try to do. To be there, to give to each player what he needs from us. For me, this is one of the most beautiful parts of being a coach.”
Orlando City B (1-0-0) opens its 2023 home campaign as it hosts first-year side Huntsville City FC at Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee. Kickoff is schedule for 7 p.m.