The situation is clear for OCB with the I-4 Derby right around the corner: win or go home.
Orlando (10-9-12, 42 points) fell just short after a valiant comeback effort against New York this past weekend. The team has temporarily dropped out of the top eight, but a win at home in the 2017 regular season finale this Thursday against the Tampa Bay Rowdies would put OCB right back in the playoff picture.
“We can definitely go into [the Tampa match] with a positive frame of mind knowing that we’ve beaten the majority of top teams in this league already this year,” OCB head coach Anthony Pulis said. “So we don’t have anything to fear. When we play to the level that we know we’re capable of, we’re a match for anybody.”
Pulis and his team have remained confident and resilient over the course of the demanding USL season. Statement victories - including a 3-0 road win over first-place Louisville and a 2-1 triumph over second-place Charleston - have proven Orlando’s knack to show out for the big games. It doesn’t get much bigger than a do-or-die matchup with Tampa in the final match of the season.
OCB captain Lewis Neal discussed the magnitude of this match, and what it means to him as a player:
“At the end of the day as a player, these are the games you dream of playing in as a kid. These big games that really mean something,” Neal said.
“I have to admit, early discussions in preseason when we first got the fixture list I think quite a few us looked at that and had an inkling that it’s going to come down to that last game against Tampa. And, here it is. It’s going to be a big game, one that we’re all looking forward to and hopefully we can put on a show and get the result we need.”
“We’ve just got to go for it. It’s as simple as that. We need to win the game.”
Match: Orlando City B vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies
Orlando City Stadium
Thursday, Oct. 12, 7:30 p.m.