Orlando City SC Season Preview

by OSC Special Edition
February 28, 2017 - Major League Soccer (MLS)

Orlando City SC had a turbulent 2016 season that made concluded in the club missing postseason playoffs for the second year in a row. However, as the club relocates to a new stadium in 2017, there is hope that they will qualify for the first ever playoff as they play their third season in the MLS. Despite starting the 2016 season well with two wins and two ties in the first four games, Orlando City ran into poor midseason results. As a result, head coach Adrian Heath was fired, and Jason Kreis took up the position. But this change was not enough to turn things around to get the team to the playoffs.

Although OCSC did not have a smooth season last year, they showed top-notch performance in some games. Their biggest wins last year include the 4-1, 3-1, and 4-1 wins against Portland Timbers, New England Revolution, and Montreal Impact respectively. In that season, Orlando emerged 8th on the Eastern Conference table and 15th on the overall MLS table. This was just a point and 2 goals behind the Philadelphia Union who qualified for the playoffs.

On the other hand, the Lions had some pretty bad games in the same season including the 4-0, 4-1 and 4-1 losses to FC Dallas, Columbus Crew SC, and D.C United respectively. OCSC displayed the worst skills between September 11th and October 2nd that saw them earn a single point in five games.

Additionally, Orlando City had the poorest defense in the MLS having conceded 60 goals; more than any other team during the 2016 season. Despite the weak defense, OCSC's attacking force helped them recover by scoring 55 goals. This resulted in a -5 goals difference. Additionally, Orlando had the most ties in the MLS; 14 higher than any other team.

Kevin Molino was one of OCSCs most important players in 2016 having 11 goals and 8 assists to his name. The 26-year-old attacking midfielder departed to Minnesota United in a trade that earned the Lions a staggering $650,000.

Other departures from the club included regular starters Luke Boden, Pedro Ribeiro, and Julio Baptista.

To strengthen his squad, Jason Kreis desperately needed two things, defensive stability, and veteran leadership. From this vision, the Lions signed US international, Jonathan Spector, from English Championship side Birmingham City. Although Spector has been playing as a right back, Kreis intends to use him as a center back in the 2017 season.

Other key signings include defender Donny Toia and midfielder Will Johnson; both from Kreis's former team Real Salt Lake.

The Lions did not make changes in the coaching staff, and Jason Kreis remains head coach with Miles Joseph, Bobby Murphy, C.J. Brown, Tim Mulqueen, and Anthony Pulis taking the assisting roles. Kreis expects to stick to his 4-4-2 diamond formation that accommodates the large number of defensive and holding midfielders he has at the club. Cyle Larin remains as the player to watch for the Lions this season.

Pundits and the Las Vegas odds do not portray the Lions as a serious title contender particularly due to the defensive fault and loss of Kevin Molino.

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