While building an MLS team, Orlando City has run into some bad luck. Head Coach Adrian Heath and General Manager Paul McDonough had a plan in place to bring in good quality players, including promising youth talent and proven veterans to help sure up Orlando's squad.
Plan A was veteran MLS defender Heath Pearce, acquired in the Expansion Draft, and would have been Orlando's utility player in the back. However, the two sides couldn't come to a contract agreement. Plan B came in the form of Brazilian "fridge" Gustavo, who, after training with the team, didn't work out and was released from the team. Plan C was another Brazilian defender, Paulo André, who was looking to sign with Orlando, but instead chose to spurn them to go back to Brazil.
So, by my count, Orlando is currently on plan D, a.k.a., Seb Hines and Sean St. Ledger. With many of their original plans not coming to fruition, the Lions staff has had to piece together a roster that isn't quite what they envisioned when they started the season.
The defense is one thing in and of itself, but there have also been injuries that have plagued some of Orlando's players who have been brought in. Tony Cascio, Tally Hall and Martin Paterson (for now) have all been injured since before the season started and now the count of injured Lions is up to 10, with Cristian Higuita, Aurelien Collin, Seb Hines and Tommy Redding all out with injuries. Not to mention Pedro Ribeiro and Kevin Molino, who are both out for extended periods of time.
There's also the international call-ups to deal with. Currently, Bryan Rochez, Conor Donovan and Estrela are all representing their countries for the U-20 World Cup and will miss extended periods.
With all that said, Orlando will only be dressing 16 or so players for the game tomorrow and out of these players, five of them are under 22 years old. With this in mind, this begs the question for the future. Will Orlando be able to make a playoff run without a lot of depth for each position?
We saw on Wednesday in D.C. that Adrian Heath was forced to put in Tyler Turner -- normally an outside back -- right in the middle at center back, a position he has played before but doesn't have much recent practice playing. This showed on United's second goal, where Turner was beaten by Chris Rolfe on his back shoulder and completely lost the midfielder as he scored the game-winning goal.
If players are able to heal up and play, it can only help the team. But at the rate of players going down with injuries, which is about one per game, by mid-June, Orlando's lineup could look completely different than anything we would expect. It's not a good situation for the club, by any means.
Overall, these are some of the growing pains of an expansion club. The team itself may have a few years under their belt, but this iteration is almost completely new, so fans must curb their expectations for the club a bit and look at the situation as a whole. Only time will tell if Orlando can turn the bad luck around and finish the season in the playoffs.