Sunday's game for Orlando City has left fans grasping for answers. Why can't the team score a goal? Why can't we win at home? Why can't we go back to the days in USL when we used to win everything? While these questions can't be answered easily, there is one question that is on many people's minds. Are there any other players on the roster who can come in and make an impact?
A great number of fans, including myself, seem to forget about a few players who have been sidelined due to injury. Most of these guys were able to play in preseason and were able to gel well with the team during that time, but they have been out since the season started.
The first of the injured players is midfielder Tony Cascio, a four-year MLS veteran. Cascio is a player who was just coming off ACL surgery the season before and was making an impact during preseason. He was in the 18-man roster for the first three games, but in late March he tweaked his back.
According to Paul Tenorio of the Orlando Sentinel, the team was "hopeful" that he would be ready to go for the D.C. United game, but Cascio has now missed the last four games. There hasn't been an update for his timetable to return, but hopefully the experienced midfielder is close to getting back on the pitch soon.
Next is the second-oldest player on the roster, Lewis Neal. Neal played the first two games but sustained a neck injury back on the 19th of March and has since been away from the team. Head Coach Adrian Heath told the Orlando Sentinel back in late March:
"Lewis has got a slight problem with his neck and he's a bit more of a concern at this point in time," Heath said. "Maybe [long term], maybe not. He tweaked his neck on Thursday or Friday and he will probably need a few more days to determine how long he is going to be."
There hasn't been a concrete update to his condition and usually those kind of injuries are unpredictable, so it's a wait-and-see situation for the team. Most people don't really think much of his absence, but Neal is a veteran player as well as an experienced one within Adrian Heath's system. Having Neal back healthy and in the games could help open up play a bit and possibly lead to more goal scoring opportunities.
Speaking of goal scoring, Martin Paterson is another player that has been sidelined since preseason. On loan from Huddersfield Town, the Northern Ireland striker looked to be the starter back in preseason, when he was playing at a consistent level. However, a hamstring injury has kept him sidelined for the past two months.
The bright side is that Paterson looks to be ready to come back in a week or two. Heath told us last Friday:
"He's felt his calf a wee bit but it's nothing too much," said the gaffer. "He's building his work up indoors and he's been getting away from here a little bit to freshen it up for him. There's nothing worse than coming to the same place every day and going through the same stuff. We're hoping in the next week or so he's going to be back."
The other goal scoring threat, and one of the three players to score a goal for the Lions this season, Pedro Ribeiro, has been out with a torn hamstring and won't be able to practice again until most likely June or July. He will be a big help when the bulk of the season begins in the summer.
The final big injury involves the first off-season signing that Orlando City made, goalkeeper Tally Hall. Hall tore his ACL last year while playing with the Houston Dynamo and has been on the road to recovery ever since. Heath spoke about his return on his latest radio show saying, "It’s a case of, I would say, in the next week or two." Once Hall is back and ready to go, it should create some healthy competition for the starting goalkeeper spot.
If and when all five of these players are healthy, Adrian Heath and Orlando City should hopefully have much better performances than what we saw against Toronto.