Orlando City SC's roster is almost complete and Adrian heath has formed a solid and competitive squad for the 2015 MLS season. He has brought in a group that will make up a strong team but he also acquired an impressive group with individual accolades.
From All-Stars to Ballon d'Or winners, the current Orlando City roster has not shied from individual recognition in their respective careers. With that in mind, who could bring some of the top MLS individual awards home at the end of the Lions' inaugural season?
I'll go through several of the most attainable MLS awards and cast my vote on who I think is best suited to be showered in glory.
MLS Comeback Player of the Year
This award is awarded to a player who has returned from an injury, illness, or career slump and excels in the MLS season. I don't know about injury or illness, but Brek Shea's career has certainly taken a dive since his departure from the League.
In 2011, Shea was about as good as they come, and was even an MLS MVP candidate. The following year was mired by injury and a serious lack of goals. He then made the move overseas where he never managed to break into regular playing time. With less than 20 appearances since his move (most off the bench), Shea has landed in Orlando with a point to prove.
MLS Newcomer of the Year
Going to a player who has played professionally in his career but is entering MLS for the very first time, this award has a history of going to players from the Western Hemisphere. England's Darren Huckerby of the San Jose Earthquakes has been the only exception (2008).
The Orlando City play I selected for this award will fit the mold of so many of the previous winners. Trinidad and Tobago's Kevin Molino gets my vote. The Soca Warrior enters the league off of a record breaking USL Pro season and impeccable international form. Likely to be partnered alongside Kaka, Molino will have a great deal of freedom to show Major League Soccer why he gets my vote.
MLS Defender of the Year
This was one of the easiest picks for me. French center back Aurélien Collin is an experienced defender and has all the qualities you want in a back line stopper.
His partnership with Matt Besler has been one of the best the league has seen recent years. With Besler no longer at his side, Collin will be forced to be the main guy in the back and grow his game to a new level. Nominated for the Defender of the Year in 2012 before eventually losing out to Besler, it might just be his year.
Landon Donovan MVP Award
Previously, the MLS MVP Award has never gone to a player from an expansion team in their inaugural season. That being said, no expansion team has ever had a former FIFA World Player of the Year taking part in their opening year.
That's right, if any player on Orlando City has a chance of taking home the coveted award, it is Brazilian superstar Kaka. Historically, the David Beckhams and Thierry Henrys of the world have struggled to become the league's Most Valuable Player. At 32, Kaka still has plenty of gas left in the tank. He will play an extremely important role for the Lions next year, and if they are successful so too might Kaka.