April 12, 2017 at Sylvan Lake Park

Availability: HC Anthony Pulis, DF Scott Thomsen

HC Anthony Pulis

Through four matches, Orlando City B is 1-2-1 with 4 points.

I think so. I think where we’re at is where we expected to be. We know that the team is always changing game to game on the fact that we’ve brought in so many new players. We knew it wasn’t gonna click straight away. I think if you look at the four games, I was honestly disappointed with the first two performances, and then the last two performances have been better. But we’ve still got an awful long way to go.

Forward Hadji Barry was named to the United Soccer League Team of the Week after his one-goal performance in the 3-1 win over Toronto FC II.

I thought the game he played against Toronto he was excellent. I was really, really pleased for him. He’s been chomping at the bit to play. Obviously, he’s been in the A team for the MLS team, so he hasn’t had as many opportunities as maybe he thought would have had to play with OCB. But I was pleased with him. I think any time he comes and plays for us, I know that he’s gonna give his best, and he’s gonna be a threat for us.

As the season goes on, Pulis knows he will have less time on the field in training, as players will need to focus on recovery.

I think in preseason you kind of set in your playing style and your philosophy in stone with the players so they get an understanding of what’s expected, in possession, out possession transitions. But then once the games start and then you can actually see—well, we need to work on x, y, and z—then you can spend that time working on it. So, I think it always changes. The other thing is, well, when we’ve had so many games in such a short space of time, training time is limited because everything is all about the recovery and the regeneration, so you have to really manage the time that you’re out on the grass with the guys and maximize that time.

Overall, Pulis has been pleased with his team’s performance in training.

Myself and [assistant coach Rob Valentino] went through this the other day. Out of all the training sessions we’ve had since we started preseason, I can count on one hand the amount of sessions that we weren’t pleased with. So, for that, we can be proud, and the players can be proud of the work they’ve done on the training field.

The USL announced it would be adding a third-tier league by 2019.

It’s phenomenal. Where the league’s come from, where it is now—it’s unreal, and everybody at USL deserves a huge pat on the back. When I arrived in Orlando in 2012 and obviously played in USL for Orlando City, and it’s scary how much it’s grown. And I think it’s gonna carry on growing. So I think [everyone] at USL can be very proud, and I think it’s great for U.S. soccer as a whole.

When asked about what kind of impact the new league will have, Pulis said he wasn’t sure yet.

I’ve got to be honest, I don’t really know. I haven’t really spoke to enough people to find out exactly how that dynamic’s gonna work at the moment. So, I think, for that one, I’ll have to reserve comment.

DF Scott Thomsen

Thomsen suffered a shoulder injury during preseason. He has since healed.

Not too bad. First couple games for me was a little frustrating coming back from a shoulder injury in the end of preseason. Our first two games, we didn’t have our best performance, but our last two games, we’ve grown and, as a team, become a better, collective unit, and the results have kinda showed that.

OCB starts a three-match road trip with New York Red Bulls II on Saturday.

I grew up playing with the academy and was lucky enough to be with the first team for a little bit last year and know the ins and outs of the club. So, it’s gonna be interesting going back up there. I’m on the other side now, playing against a lot of guys that I’ve grown up with. But we just know they’re gonna be coming in hot with press, and they’ve all got really good players on the ball. They’re all confident. So there’s gonna be spaces for us to probably get behind them with their hard press, but we just have to take care of the ball and be clinical when we get in front of goal.

Both defender Zach Carroll and Thomsen were members of NYRBII last season.

Not yet, really. You never know who’s gonna get called down from the first team for them or what their lineup’s gonna look like. So, just kinda tendencies of the actual team and not really the players ‘cus they’ve all [got] similar type of players—good on the ball, wanna get forward. So, I’m sure me and Zach will be able to help out anybody with any questions they have.

Early on in OCB’s season, the team has seen fluctuation in its roster because of Major League Soccer loans and, in general, having a whole new roster.

Every game, it’s gonna be different. We know that. We knew that the minute we signed with this club. Any time you’re with an MLS affiliation, that’s just kinda how it’s gonna be. But like Coach Pulis says, just control what you can control, and that’s just going out every day hard. The philosophy of the club is the same, whether it’s the first team, academy. So, it’s just something that every game we’re gonna continue [to] get better, no matter who’s in and who’s out.

OCB is playing its 2017 campaign in Orlando City Stadium. In the team’s home-opener, a single-game OCB record 2,741 people occupied the stadium.

It’s probably one of the nicest fields or nicest venues that I’ve ever been able to step on. And it’s probably gonna be one of the best fields, if not the best fields, in USL this year. So, I think we’re just always thankful that we have this opportunity every game, every home game, and we’re gonna make it a fortress for the rest of the season.