Orlando City B is making a return.
After taking a hiatus this year, the team led by head coach Fernando José De Argila Irurita will play in USL League One in 2019 and is faced with the task of assembling a young and competitive squad.
The Orlando Soccer Journal caught up recently with OCB’s new coach in an exclusive Q&A interview. Read what the new Orlando boss had to say about the upcoming season.
OSJ: How have your first weeks as OCB head coach have been?
We’ve been working on this moment for quite a while and thank God, this opportunity presented itself. The only thing we’ve done since then is continuing the job we’ve been doing before. We went to South America and that was mainly to view possible and future players, since we can only have seven international players in our squad.
But we also went to see not only the players, but to see how other teams work and function and experience a bit of the soccer culture over there.
So the main point of the trip was to look at potential players?
Yes, sir. We spent 10 days in Brazil and visited two clubs that play in the Brazilian first division. Those clubs are Atletico Mineiro and Atletico Paranaense. They invited us to see their facilities and in total we saw five games that allowed us to see certain age groups that may be of interest to us. We saw games from the U-23, U-20, U-19, U-17 group and one game from the U-14 group to see the various levels of play from each age group.
By when will OCB announce its first signing for 2019?
The first signing will be announced soon, but that’s more of a question for our general manager Mike Potempa. I’m more of an on-the-pitch coach, but there will be an announcement soon, I don’t know the exact time.
We are in the process of building the squad with the goal of having it completed sometime in the month of December before the Christmas holiday break, because we plan to have a preseason training camp for 15 days in Brazil.
What do you think OCB’s identity will be?
I have a certain style I like to use, a style that I’ve been using for a long time. Now, it’s about finding the right players who fit the system I plan to use. Obviously, we’re in that stage now of finding players who play close to the style we hope to utilize.
How do you identify success in 2019?
We all want to win. Our objective is to work toward victory, we’ll put our maximum effort and the players we’ll have will have to put 200 percent on the field because 100 percent is not enough. These are important objectives that have to remain with us throughout the season.
How closely will OCB work with the first team?
There will always be inter-changeable communication. We’re essentially the first-team of the academy, Orlando City B. It’s the idea of putting young players from the academy on a path with the first stop being here before eventually joining the MLS team.
With us being a professional side, it allows us to place young players near the MLS level, so there’s always going to be communication with the MLS first team.
Have you chosen a staff to assist you or will the Montverde coaching staff fill those roles?
We’re working on that as well. Nothing is finalized yet, but it isn’t a hard job. The hard part is putting the squad together. The good thing about Montverde is there’s a lot of coaches here, so it’s really about who’s available.
What do you feel is the biggest teaching lesson you can instill in the younger players that have professional aspirations?
The biggest lesson for a player is to show their professionalism in every moment on-and-off the pitch. You can’t be a professional player on the pitch and as soon as you leave the field, you’re not committed to taking care of yourself.
So when you act professional off the pitch, it plays a big part in becoming a professional on the pitch. If not, it’s going to be hard. Soccer isn’t only about kicking a ball back and forth, soccer is many things. I’ve told my players from the academy, if you aren’t going to act professional, they aren’t going to go very far.
You’re very active and engaging on social media especially with fans, why’s that?
I’ve learned through my years as a professional that the fans are the ones who sustain a club. So it’s only right to have a relationship with them. Obviously, you have to keep your distance at times, but I’m a fan of the fans. For me, win or lose or tie, we play for the fans. When we win, they win, but it’s important to have respect for the fans.
Were you a fan of certain club growing up?
I come from a soccer family, my father played professionally for FC Barcelona, Atletico Madrid. He trained many teams, so my whole life I grew up seeing many different colors. In the end, I’m a fan of the sport.
Editors note: Interview was conducted in Spanish and translated by Mike Gramajo. Austin David contributed with questions.
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(Photos Courtesy of Orlando City)