Did Orlando City SC’s brass create their opener from Saturday’s home match vs. Houston Dynamo FC in a lab?
Okay, we know that didn’t actually happen – but it’s certainly got head coach Oscar Pareja, EVP of soccer operations Luis Muzzi and others smiling ear-to-ear following an offseason of high-end roster change.
It featured a tic-tac-toe sequence from their three Designated Players, with Mauricio Pereyra picking out Facundo Torres’ run before Ercan Kara banged home a low cross at the back post.
A 1-0 lead in the 25th minute, just as they drew it up as that trio further meshes.
GOAL: Ercan Kara, Orlando City SC - 25th minute
This past offseason saw the Lions remake their attack, with captain Nani, now-Chicago Fire FC winger Chris Mueller and US men’s national team striker Daryl Dike all departing. Nani was on a DP deal before joining then-Serie A side Venezia, Mueller went to Scotland's Hibernian on a free transfer and Dike was transferred to England's West Brom for a reported $9.5 million plus incentives. Oh, and Pereyra’s deal had expired.
Where were the goals going to come from, many wondered.
But the No. 10 spot was secured when Pereyra rejoined last December on a one-year DP deal. Then two more DPs came, with Torres arriving on a club-record deal from Uruguay’s Peñarol and Kara signing from Austria’s Rapid Vienna. Torres is their new dynamic winger, while Kara’s the target-man and No. 9.
Are their connections approaching muscle memory territory? Perhaps not yet; it's only MLS Week 15. But with a combined eight goals and 14 assists, they’re definitely on the right track.