ORLANDO, Fla. - An offensive juggernaut with “pretty fierce” competition for places – that’s the team Jason Kreis believes he has assembled for the rest of the season with Orlando City SC following the addition of three new players this week.
Argentine playmaker Matias Perez Garcia was the club's headline arrival on transfer deadline day, but the Lions’ new head coach believes he has added essential strength in depth by signing midfielder Tony Rocha and defender Mikey Ambrose from the USL team to full MLS contracts.
“All three players really help the team from the depth and competition perspective, and we know we need that,” said Kreis. “Obviously we lost a piece we really liked in Darwin [Ceren], but in our league you have to make difficult decisions and, sometimes, you have to say goodbye to people you like in an effort to address a different situation and a different position.
“For me, these moves take us from being a very good attacking squad to, I think, arguably one of the best in the league now. And the competition at those positions is going to be very fierce.”
Bringing in Perez Garcia – someone Kreis has had an eye on since the player arrived in the league with the Earthquakes in 2014 – gives Orlando some new attacking options in support of skipper Kaká, and that’s what has the head coach so bullish about their firepower.
“Matias is a No. 10-type player, a player that wants to be on and around the ball all the time, a very creative soccer mind who makes excellent decisions in the final third of the field,” Kreis said. “He strikes a very good ball, so dead-ball delivery, crossing, shooting the ball, are all things he does very well with his left foot.
“He could be somebody we look at to be more of a prototypical 10 and, when [Kaká] is unavailable, he could be an option to replace him in the lineup. He is available right away and he could be in consideration for the 18 or even the starting lineup on Sunday [vs. Seattle, 7 pm ET, FS1].”
That ringing endorsement should act as a boost for Perez Garcia, who appeared to have lost his way somewhat after two years with San Jose.
“I am very happy and excited to be here,” he said, in Spanish. “The team hosted me very well and the first impressions were very good. I am just looking forward to getting into this team and creating an impact. This is a very talented team, one that can make a big impact when it sticks together. I feel good physically. I just needed a change.”
After bringing in only Uruguayan defender Jose Aja earlier in the transfer window – and just missing out on “a major trade,” according to president Phil Rawlins on the radio on Friday – the final 24 hours of dealing brought some frantic but enjoyable action from Orlando’s front office on Wednesday.
“It was an exciting day for us,” Kreis said. “There was a lot of stuff going on, a lot of discussions were being had, and, at the end of the day, we added three players that we really like. Now we have to see who starts in matches, who comes off the bench, and who’s involved in the team on a weekly basis. And those decisions will be made week by week.”
Kreis was also clear with his view of the role of Orlando City B after extensive conversations with Anthony Pulis, the head coach of the USL outfit. Both Rocha and Ambrose figured strongly in last week’s friendly against English Premier League side Stoke City, and Kreis wanted to set out a marker for the future.
“To watch them play against Stoke last week, they were arguably two of the best players on the field for us,” Kreis said. “So I wanted to take notice of that and I wanted to reward players that are doing well for our B team and to show there is a linear path from B team to A team if they deserve it.”