It's no secret that Orlando City SC is looking for depth along the back line. Right backs Rafael Ramos (20) and Tyler Turner (18) have yet to hit 21 years of age and the likely starting left back, Brek Shea, is making a transition from midfield to defense. The back line experience for the club will undoubtedly come from the starting center backs.
The only player slotted as a definite defensive starter for Orlando City this coming season is three-time MLS All-Star Aurélien Collin. Collin was picked up in a trade with Sporting Kansas City in December for allocation money and a player to be named later, which turned out to be defender Jalil Anibaba. His backups, Tommy Redding and Conor Donovan, are 18 and 19 years old, respectively, and both lack extensive professional experience. That's where a recently acquired Orlando City trialist will come in.
Sean St. Ledger has been on trial with the club over the past week and has impressed during his time in central Florida. Having extensive experience playing center back in England and having recently been on trial with D.C. United, St. Ledger was brought in to see if he could fill the missing role of an experienced center back to pair with Collin. He seems to be relishing the job.
Room for St. Ledger on the roster opened up last week when Orlando City waived Brazilian center back Gustavo and 2015 MLS SuperDraft pick Akeil Barrett. Those spots were filled by a pair of defensive trialists in St. Ledger and Seb Hines. The waving of Gustavo opened up an international slot which can be filled by St. Ledger.
On Friday, St. Ledger played 60 minutes of Orlando City's friendly against Swedish side BK Häcken and impressed. Starting alongside Donovan, the 30-year-old, English-born Irish international immediately took on the role of mentor for the young 19-year-old. St. Ledger spent the first half of the initial 90 minutes as an instructor for the U.S. Under-20 international, helping Donovan correct mistakes he was making.
The experience St. Ledger brings Redding and Donovan is invaluable. The two teenagers are making their debut in the top division and have yet to face the challenge they will face in 2015. While playing at North Carolina State, Donovan also played for the Carolina RailHawks U-23s in the USL PDL. Redding joined Orlando City prior to the 2014 season, sharing time at center back in USL Pro.
The jump from those leagues to MLS is a notable one, which will definitely take time to adjust to. Having a veteran center back like St. Ledger, despite his lack of MLS experience, will help the two acclimate to the higher level of play.
Orlando City has been searching for an experienced center back to pair alongside Collin this season. The club thought they may have found that defender in Gustavo, but that turned out to not be the case. With how St. Ledger has played this past week, it looks as though the club may have found that defender they have been searching for.