2020 Season Preview: Orlando City SC

Orlando City SC have yet to make the playoffs in their five seasons as an MLS club... but they look to have a plan in place to change that in 2020. It starts with the hiring of former FC Dallas coach Oscar Pareja, who will be looking to instill the same culture that made him a success in Dallas.

Reinforcements have been brought in to shore up the team's defense, while Nani will still be counted on to lead an attack that was inconsistent in 2019. That will have to change for the Lions to finish in the top 7 in the East.

2019 Finish

  • MLS Reg. Season: 37 points (9W-15L-10D), 11th in East / 22nd overall
  • MLS Cup Playoffs: Did not qualify
  • U.S. Open Cup: Eliminated in Semifinals (vs. Atlanta United)

Star players

  • Nani — The former Manchester United star had a decent first season in MLS, but having just four goals and two assists after June were a major reason the Lions fell apart down the stretch.
  • Pedro Gallese — The goalkeeper position has long been a problem spot for Orlando but Gallese's acquisition could put an end to that.
  • Mauricio Pereyra — We didn't see much from the attacking midfielder after he was acquired late in the season, but the Uruguayan will be counted on to spark an attack that scored the fourth fewest goals in the league last season.

Extratime Analysis: Orlando City SC

Key acquisitions and departures

  • IN: Pedro Gallese — The Peruvian international has the potential to be the best goalkeeper in MLS and if he is, Orlando will see the position go from a weakness to a strength.
  • IN: Antonio Carlos — The center back position has been a revolving door for years in Orlando. The 26-year-old has been a champion in Brazil and will look to form a strong partnership with Robin Jansson.
  • OUT: Lamine Sane — Sane was much improved in 2019, but he never reached his potential in Central Florida.
  • OUT: Cristian Higuita — The longest-tenured Lion, Higuita's departure caused a stir among the fan base. 
  • OUT: Sacha Kljestan — The former US international did not find success in Orlando after several productive years with the Red Bulls.

Projected Starting XI

2020 Roster

  • Goalkeepers (3): Pedro Gallese, Brian Rowe, Mason Stajduhar
  • Defenders (8): Carlos Antonio, Alex De John, Robin Jansson, Kamal Miller, Joao Moutinho, Ruan, Rodrigo Schlegel, Kyle Smith
  • Midfielders (11): Jordan Bender, Joey DeZart, Junior Urso, David Loera, Sebastian Jhegson Mendez, Chris Mueller, Andres Perea, Nani, Mauricio Pereyra, Oriol Rosell, Robinho
  • Forwards (5): Tesho Akindele, Daryl Dike, Dom Dwyer, Benji Michel, Santiago Patino

Armchair Analyst: Strengths and weaknesses

  • Strength: Oscar Pareja’s taken on jobs like this before. It took him one season to revive Colorado in the first half of last decade, and he coaxed immediate improvement out of FC Dallas when he moved there after leaving the Rapids. And honestly this roster has, on paper, more balance than previous Orlando City rosters. There doesn’t appear to be much dead money on the books.
  • Weakness: They have three match-winners on the roster in Nani, Mauricio Pereyra and Dom Dwyer. They were almost impossibly frail defensively when the first two shared the field (small sample size, so beware), and Dwyer has now failed to produce double-digit goals in two of his past three seasons. That is a worrisome top end of the roster.

Predictions

  • Ben Baer: 11th in East
  • Marcelo Balboa (Univision): 9th in East
  • Calen Carr: 12th in East
  • Charlie Davies: 8th in East
  • Matt Doyle: 9th in East
  • Kristian Jack (TSN): 9th in East
  • Frederic Lord (TVA Sports): 13th in East
Series: