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Lineup Inconsistency Ultimately Hurt Orlando City In Its Debut MLS Campaign

It's been a rough season for Orlando City, and the inability to field a consistent starting lineup has ultimately hurt the team more than anything else in 2015.

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Consistency is important for any winning club, and Orlando City didn't have much of it in 2015.

The Lions have seen their fair share of ups and downs this season -- something they weren't used to dealing with during their four seasons in USL Pro -- and the adjustment to Major League Soccer has been a lot tougher than most fans expected.

Injuries, red cards, international call-ups; this team has seen it all. It's hurt them more than anyone anticipated heading into the season.

Orlando Sentinel beat writer Paul Tenorio shared this handy chart on Wednesday, which showcased one startling stat about the club this season: Adrian Heath has never deployed the same starting lineup more than two games in a row, and only did that four times, using 28 different lineups through 32 games.

As Yankees manager Joe Girardi would say, that is not what you want.

In addition, Orlando City has used 17 different back-line pairings, constantly mixing and matching the back four to combat the struggles it's dealt with. After injuries to Tommy Redding and Rafael Ramos last weekend, we'll likely see another back four yet again against New York City FC next Friday.

It's safe to say that Orlando came into the season with a pretty young team, and constantly playing different players is not easy for any club. That task becomes harder when fielding young players with very little experience playing with the guys around them.

Kevin Molino's injury hurt the team big time and left a big question mark on the right side for much of the season. Brek Shea missing 14 games hasn't helped at all, either.

To make the playoffs in 2016, Orlando City doesn't need to tear down this roster and rebuild in the off-season. The pieces are there, and all they need is for those guys to stay healthy and off of the MLS Disciplinary Committee's list.

With Shea and Kaká suspended against NYCFC next week due to yellow card accumulation, the Lions will be looking at their 29th different lineup through 33 games this season. They'll be hoping for a lot less of that next season.