With the MLS Expansion Draft and a few trades and signings mixed in, the Orlando City roster has really begun to take shape over the last week. Orlando's USL Pro affiliate, Louisville City FC, has been making some roster noise as well. While the fledgling club hasn't received any Orlando City players on loan (yet), the club had some landmark news last week with the announcement of its first three signings. While we've yet to hear any specifics about the formations or systems which Coach James O'Connor will employ in the upcoming campaign (hopefully more details in the coming weeks), player signings make for even more substantial news.Here's the breakdown of the boys who will take the pitch next spring at Louisville Slugger Field.
Kadeem Dacres F/M (Highlights) -
Bio: Dacres is a 23-year-old forward/midfielder who was deployed a good deal as a left winger at his most recent post at Arizona United SC in USL Pro. He played college soccer at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, where in his last season he was named his conference's Midfielder of the Year. He was also first-team all-conference, as well as on the NSCAA All-Northeast Region first team. Dacres was drafted in the fourth round of the 2013 MLS SuperDraft by the Chicago Fire. He played for Reading United of the USL PDL before heading to Arizona United, where he scored three goals and registered one assist in 24 appearances in 2014. He has been involved with the USA youth setup at the U-15, U-17 and U-18 levels.
(Limited) Analysis: Dacres is a pacey attacker who shows flashes of talent. Skilled with both feet, he displays an eagerness and capability to take on opposing defenders with the ball at his feet and he has the pace to run past multiple defenders at a time. Although no one will mistake him for Steven Gerrard anytime soon, he has a strong enough leg to put the ball on frame from outside the box to test the keeper and also shows some finishing ability in front of goal. He draws fouls well, putting his defenders in positions to make mistakes on which he largely capitalizes. However, scoring only three goals on 21 shot attempts would suggest that he either could use some polish on that finishing ability or have better shot selection; while his one assist in 24 appearances posits that he may need to work on link-up play and service into the box from out wide.
O'Connor on Dacres: "Kadeem is a talented player who is fast, direct, and a real threat to opposing teams. He has great potential and I think he is one that will really excite our fans this upcoming season."
Absolutely Out-of-This-World Unfair Poor Man's Comparison: Asamoah Gyan.
Juan Guzman M/DM (Highlights) -
Bio: Not to be confused with the jheri-curled World Series-winning pitcher or the MLS referee of the same name, Guzman is a 28-year-old holding midfielder who last played for the Charlotte Eagles of USL Pro. (Orlando City fans may remember Guzman from the 2013 USL Pro Playoff Final, which Orlando won.) Before Charlotte, he played college soccer at Liberty University, where he was team captain. Guzman was named to the all-conference first team once and was twice named to the NSCAA All-South Atlantic Region first team. Signing with Charlotte in 2010, Guzman made 92 appearances for the Eagles, scoring four goals, including two in 2014. In 2013 he had a preseason trial with the Colorado Rapids. Guzman previously has experience with the US U-15 setup.
(Limited) Analysis: Guzman plays in a holding midfield role and displays many of the qualities which are ideally found in a number six. Playing in front of the back four, he shows good positional intelligence and tackling ability. One of his best traits is his passing ability and field vision, which he uses in a deep-lying playmaker role, pinging passes off of his right foot towards attackers ahead and with the ability to switch fields. At only 5-foot-9, Guzman may lack some of the physical presence of some defensive midfielders.
O'Connor on Guzman: "He has very good attributes. He's a holding midfielder, so he can play a specific role and he's going to be a very good asset for us."
Absolutely Out-of-This-World Unfair Poor Man's Comparison: Andrea Pirlo.
Guy Abend D/RB/DM (Highlights) -
Bio: Abend is a 24-year-old, jack-of-all-trades defensive player. He has been a player in the Israeli Football League system for six seasons, making over 100 appearances across all competitions for four different clubs in both the first and second divisions -- including at Hapoel Rishon LeZion, where he served as team captain. He scored two goals in 37 appearances for Rishon LeZion last season. Abend has made appearances for the Israel U-19 national team.
(Limited) Analysis: Abend's personal highlight tape lists his playing positions as "Defensive Midfielder, Stopper, Right Back." Stopper. Need I say more? Abend displays physical talents to be a defensive destroyer for Louisville City. He has good technical ability with his feet, and is is a good leaper, which make his headers both useful defensively and dangerous in the attacking third, particularly on set pieces. He has good enough speed to get forward out of central positions and to beat defenders down the touchline when he bombs forward from right back. He also has good passing ability out of the defensive third, which he uses both when making long defensive clearances towards attacking outlets, and when he brings the ball up from the back on the ground in combination plays with teammates. He has played in multiple positions throughout his career, but O'Connor sees him as a midfielder.
O'Connor on Abend: "We're really excited to sign Guy. He is a player I've had my eye on for a while. I'm thrilled we could come to terms."
Absolutely Out-of-This-World Unfair Poor Man's Comparison: Geoff Cameron.
More of O'Connors thoughts on the three new signings:
Louisville City FC News and Notes for December 11:
- Louisville City has began construction of the new locker rooms at Louisville Slugger Field for next season. I promise, there is a locker room somewhere in this picture.
— Louisville City FC (@loucityfc) December 11, 2014
- The USL Pro League meetings are underway down in Florida. Hopefully this means that we will get some concrete news about the schedule and kit in the near future.
- Lastly, the official Louisville City scarf, which has been mentioned previously in this space, is finally available (it uses lyrics from "My Old Kentucky Home" which seems pretty cool). Louisville peeps: go buy one.
— Louisville City FC (@loucityfc) December 11, 2014
— USL PRO (@USLPRO) December 11, 2014