Written by Derek Robbie
Orlando City Soccer Club is looking to rebound from an underwhelming 2017 season, which saw them finish 10th in the Eastern Conference and 18th overall in Major League soccer. The Lions’ ended the season with a total of 39 points, and a 10-9-15 record.
Head Coach Jason Kreis is entering his second full season in charge of Orlando City, and he will be looking for his team to improve a great deal from last season.
Kreis and General Manager Niki Budalic have helped bring in a total of 12 new players into the squad in order to help usher in a more hardworking, positive locker room. Some of the notable names of the 13 new players include last-season’s assist leader, Sacha Kljestan, French Ligue 1 and German Bundesliga veteran Lamina Sané, and Josué Colmán. In addition, City also added reigning NASL golden boot winner Stéfano Pinho.
Although, they have brought in many new faces the team has lost a couple key players as well. Brazilian legend Ricardo Kaká retired at the end of the 2017 campaign, and last year’s leading scorer, Canadian international, Cyle Larin completed a transfer to the Turkish club Besiktas.
Kreis and his coaching staff will be looking to some of the new faces such as the two United States Mens’ National Team veterans, Kljestan and Dom Dwyer to replace the offensive production of Kaká and Larin.
City had some serious defensive issues last season, finishing the campaign with a -19 goal differential. Due to the number of defenders the team has brought in, it is obvious that Kreis and Budalic saw this as an area that needed much improvement.
“This offseason we decided to go further, to make more moves, and try to bring that winning mentality in order to reach what we want in terms of objective. Which is winning and playing in the playoffs.” Said CEO Alex Leitão on the offseason acquisitions. “I have total confidence and trust in Jason and his coaching staff in order to organize those guys, and have them playing as a team, and gather results.”
With all the new faces it is hard to predict who will be in the starting 11 for the opening match Saturday evening against DC United.
“1000%, 1000%. We have another practice scrimmage tomorrow, which we’ll look at a whole different group of players that we are looking to give 90 minutes.” Said Kreis about how starting spots are not secured yet. “So, the door is certainly wide open.”
With all being said, the 2018 season will be a different sort of intriguing compared to years past due to the number of new players on the squad and all the question marks going into the season.