Author: Ben Couch | Cover illustration by Duane Tomaszewski
A second season for Orlando City SC started slow and led to a reset for the Lions, with longtime head coach Adrian Heath replaced by former New York City FC boss Jason Kreis. The second half of the season was spent gauging the roster on the fly, and yet they nearly snuck into the playoff field, finishing just one point behind sixth-place Philadelphia. With star Canadian national teamer Cyle Larin up top, Kaká pulling the strings and new arrival Giles Barnes supplying goals and assists from the bench, the offense will be exciting, which should keep things lively for the debut of Orlando City Stadium, their much-heralded new home.
Key Offseason Transactions
|KEY PLAYERS IN:||KEY PLAYERS OUT:|
|Will Johnson (M)
Jonathan Spector (D)
Donny Toia (D)
|Julio Baptista (F)
Kevin Molino (M)
Harrison Heath (M)
Brek Shea (M)
Player to watch: Cyle Larin
So that rookie-record 17 goals? Definitely not a fluke. We're now 53 games and 31 goals into the rise of the greatest MLS forward prospect since Jozy Altidore was a wee Red Bull 10 seasons back. Sure, the minutes went up and the goals went down, but you can chalk that minus-3 up to the run of play – Larin got better in Season Two, and if he improves again, Orlando's going to be running a difficult cost-benefit analysis during this summer's Secondary Transfer Window.
How they'll play
HEAD COACH - JASON KREIS
With a revamped backline supported by Will Johnson's central midfield smarts, Kaká and the rest of the attack should have free rein to find Cyle Larin from all angles.
Projected Starting XI
4-3-1-2, right to left: Joe Bendik (GK) — Victor "PC" Giro (D), Jose Aja (D), Jordan Spector (D), Donny Toia (D) — Antonio Nocerino (M), Servando Carrasco (M), Will Johnson (M) — Kaká (M) — Carlos Rivas (F), Cyle Larin (F)
10th in Eastern Conference. The Lions enter their third season in further transition, and given the turnover along the backline – three new starters – questions abound on the defensive end. And even with an explosive attacking corps, the Lions still need one of Carlos Rivas or Matias Perez Garcia to step up as a goal-producing forward partner alongside Larin.