By NICHOLAS MURRAY – firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, February 29, 2016
BRADENTON, Fla. – After a strong rookie season with the Austin Aztex, midfielder Tony Rocha is enjoying getting to know his new teammates as part of Orlando City B for the club’s inaugural season in the USL.
“This is fun,” Rocha said after OCB’s preseason scrimmage with OKC Energy FC at IMG Academy. “The guys have really come together in the first two weeks of preseason that we’ve had, and this is the first test that we had against a [USL team] this season, so that was good.”
One of the players most closely associated with the Aztex during their seasons in the PDL, and part of the club’s championship team in 2013, Rocha made 25 appearances in his first professional season for Austin as it made its debut in the USL last season. When the Aztex decided to go on hiatus for the 2016 season as they sought a permanent home, Rocha became a player in demand.
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One of the teams to act quickly was Orlando, who signed both Rocha and fellow Aztex player Mikey Ambrose for the Lions’ return to the USL in 2016
“They reached out to me as soon as the season was over, so it was kinda quick,” Rocha said. “When I was trying to figure out what team I was going to go to, Orlando reached out and it was a great opportunity for me to come down here to play.”
According to Rocha, the decision to head to Orlando was a relatively simple one.
“Just because of the support they’ve had with the MLS team, and the history they have in the USL, I wanted to be a part of that organization,” he said.
It certainly helped that Ambrose is also along for the ride. As roommates with the Aztex, the familiarity the two have with one another has helped as they get used to their new surroundings.
“It’s definitely hard going to a new team with a bunch of new guys, but having the roommate I had in Austin over here in Orlando, it’s nice having that,” Rocha said.As Rocha moves on, with the goal of helping Orlando continue the tradition it built on the path to an MLS franchise in 2015, the young midfielder will be a player to watch as the Lions return to the USL this season.