Armchair Analyst: Matt Doyle

Armchair Analyst: Roster build status for Orlando City SC

Under construction

The Offseason So Far: A complete teardown is under way. Kaká retired, Giles Barnes and Antonio Nocerino were encouraged to walk, and it looks like Cristian Higuita and Carlos Rivas will be next. Rumors abound that Cyle Larin is headed to Besiktas. These guys are/were all a big part of what this team was – was supposed to be, really – since they came into MLS in 2015, and it unequivocally did not work out.

So Jason Kreis gets something close to a blank slate and a bundle of TAM and GAM to work with. Chances are that when the season starts they'll have three new DPs (Yoshi Yotun can be bought down with TAM) and a bunch of new faces everywhere except goalkeeper and center forward, where Dom Dwyer is the incumbent.

The best rumor to keep an eye upon right now is their pursuit of 19-year-old Paraguayan playmaker Josue Colman, who'd arrive on a $3.5 million transfer fee. It would be fun to see if Colman (who's more of a No. 10) can be paired with OCSC's Homegrown attacker, Pierre Da Silva, who was rated as the best teenager in USL last season.

Da Silva is just 19 and looked like a guy ready for MLS minutes last season. I'm still pretty surprised he got only one.

JAN. 2 UPDATE: Higuita is rumored to be headed to Colombian giants Millonarios, and Larin is rumored to be headed to Borussia Mönchengladbach. Colman hasn't signed yet, and Da Silva is still around.

Rivas is gone, though. He and Tommy Redding were traded to the Red Bulls for Sacha Kljestan – the league's most prolific playmaker over the last three seasons – and OCSC have a new centerpiece. It's a "win now" move for a franchise that's got to be so, so sick of losing after three mostly disappointing on-field years in MLS.

Kljestan has proved to be the league's best chance creator since returning to the league in 2015:

He's done the bulk of his work as a No. 10 underneath a lone center forward, in either a 4-2-3-1 or a 3-3-3-1. Let me ask you this: Would you be particularly confident about an attack, in 2018, where the primary goal getters are Kljestan, Dom Dwyer and an as-yet-undetermined winger?

Yeah, neither would I. So that means I think Kljestan's actually going to be used in a different role. He'll either be asked to pull strings from deeper, as in his Anderlecht days (he was a No. 8 in Belgium), or he'll be used "somewhere" in a diamond midfield.

You can read those as air quotes around "somewhere" because I think it's infinitely more likely that Kljestan will be used at the point of the diamond, as a No. 10, than as a shuttler. But I have to pay at least a little bit of mind to the possibility that he'd be used as a shuttler since A) that's where the Red Bulls used him in the playoffs, and B) if Colman comes, it makes more sense to use Kljestan on the sides of the diamond rather than at the point.

Either way it's a two-forward lineup and that, of course, leaves the question of who to pair with Dwyer. So far there are two options: Stefano Pinho, who won the NASL Golden Boot in 2015 and 2017, and former US youth national team regular Jose Villarreal, who the Purple Lions got for free after he and the Galaxy parted ways.

Niether's ever been a regular starter in MLS. Both have looked, at times, more than talented enough to become so. For OCSC to finally get to the playoffs, one of them will probably have to live up to that potential in 2018.

JAN. 24 UPDATE: Higuita did not leave, and in fact looks like he'll be the starting defensive midfielder. That is probably a good thing, since they were a flaming wreck defensively last year when he didn't play.

So they got that, and they got Kljestan, and then they got young. OCSC signed Colman and gave him the No. 10 shirt, then traded for Chicago Homegrown Cam Lindley (one of my two favorite players in college soccer last year, and a guy who could/should compete right away for a starting role. And then they went and drafted Chris Mueller, who this past season became the first player in almost 15 years to register 20 or more assists in college soccer. Lindley's an 8 who can probably play on the sides of the diamond, while Mueller's a second forward who can really only play there or maybe a little bit on the wing.

The Purple Lions are suddenly mostly young, and mostly fun, and can pass the hell out of the ball. It feels like a Jason Kreis team.

It does not, however, feel like a Cyle Larin team. Larin's been in Turkey training with Besiktas and claiming he's a Besiktas player. Keep an eye on how this one works out.

Also keep an eye on central defense. Right now the depth chart is Jonathan Spector and Jose Aja and that's it. There will be new arrivals.