Major League Soccer announced Wednesday a new mechanism for attracting high priced talent to the league. With reports of this decision floating around in recent weeks, big named players have been speculated to be joining Orlando City. But those potential additions aren't the most important.
The biggest problem for Orlando City this season has been depth. Due to injuries and international call-ups, the Lions have had several situations this season where they've been short on players for games. The team's depth problem got so bad in late March that, for their first game in Montreal, every available player dressed and they still couldn't fill the 18-man team sheet.
So while the big news coming out of MLS Wednesday might have been the addition of Targeted Allocation Money, the opening of the MLS secondary transfer window is far more important to Orlando City.
An excellent example of the depth problem for Orlando City is their current run of games. With Brek Shea moving from left back to left midfield due to the absence of the injured Kevin Molino, Shea's backup Luke Boden was thrust into a starting role. In addition, starting center back Aurelien Collin has been sidelined, which has forced Sean St. Ledger, who would've been Boden's backup, into the starting lineup.
This has caused a problem as of late. Last month, due to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, Orlando City played three games in a week's time. Without a backup, Boden was forced to play 120 minutes in Charleston and 90 minutes in each of the following two games.
That situation could come up again this week. Orlando City will be facing FC Dallas on Saturday, followed by a friendly against West Bromwich Albion on Wednesday, and hosting the New York Red Bulls the following weekend. Ideally, Boden would have had the opportunity to rest during this busy stretch of games but head coach Adrian Heath has been left with little choice.
MLS has been adamant that they won't adjust their schedule to that of the rest of the world and take breaks during FIFA international fixtures. That means that teams with several internationals like Orlando City will lose key players during parts of the season. That's also where the lack of depth will most negatively affect the team.
Since the team's inception, Orlando City has been known as a team willing to splash the cash to attract that needed talent to win. Even in USL, the Lions regularly outspent their opposition to win trophies. That strategy hasn't changed since they joined MLS.
Due to their willingness to spend money, Orlando City will likely procure the services of a major European talent using this newly announced mechanism. But that won't be the most important acquisition they make. The most important additions to the team may not even be starters, but players that add depth to a depleted squad.
Two important moments arrived Wednesday that will affect Orlando City in a major way. One was the announcement of Targeted Allocation Money. The other was the opening of the MLS secondary transfer window. While most fans and media will still focus on the big names that come via the Targeted Allocation Money mechanism, it's actually the smaller names adding to the team's depth that will make the biggest difference.