Orlando City B had one of it's busiest days in the club's short history on Wednesday, announcing the signings of seven new players, including United States National Team prospect Dembakwi Yomba and promising City academy player Pierre Da Silva.
With the start of the USL season just around the corner, OCB is starting to see its roster taking shape under Head Coach Anthony Pulis.
The Melbourne Lions have signed 11 players to USL contracts for 2016 to date, and will be joined by a handful of more players from Orlando City's first team for most or all of the season. While we can still expect another handful of names to be added before the season starts in March, the core of OCB's roster is starting to take shape, with what should be a very young group taking the field.
Given what we know about the roster right now, we can still form a pretty competitive starting lineup from the bunch (with the additions of some should-be loanees).
Mason Stajduhar is a lock to join OCB in 2016, and should see a heavy load of the playing time in goal after signing on as a Homegrown Player back in November. With Stajduhar being a loanee, OCB currently doesn't have any goalkeepers on its roster. Expect the team to add at least one more -- Thierry Graça? -- before the season starts, preferably a backup to teach the young Padawan the ways as he navigates his first pro season.
OCB's back line will likely see a mix of both USL signings and Orlando City loanees for most of 2016. Tyler Turner, Tommy Redding, and Conor Donovan are all likely headed down to the reserves to get some much needed minutes, and both Turner and Redding will likely assume starting roles at right and center back, respectively. Kyle Callan-McFadden, the former Norwich signing, should be penciled in as the second center back starting next to Redding, with Mikey Ambrose, who spent 2015 with the Austin Aztex in USL, starting at left back.
The defensive midfield, you would think, should be easy to predict. The Lions were hardly able to find playing time for Harrison Heath and Estrela in 2015, two of their more promising young players. There will be a need to add veteran depth behind them, which could also be filled with Lewis Neal.
Jonathan Mendoza on the left and Tony Rocha on the right should make up for wing positions, with Neal possibly playing in the middle as the attacking midfielder. Neal, as the vet leader of the squad, leading things from the middle could be beneficial for all. Marius Obekop should also challenge for a spot on the wing.
This is probably the team's most stacked position on the field, with talent just up and down the position. Da Silva, Yomba, Michael Cox, and potentially recent draft pick Hadji Barry will all battle for minutes in 2016, and for Pulis the challenge will be finding the time to get each of those guys on the field. Since I'm forcing myself to pick a starter right now, my money is on Yomba to get the start on opening day.
Stajduhar; Turner, Redding, Callan-McFadden, Ambrose; Heath, Estrela; Rocha, Neal, Mendoza; Yomba.
What do you think the lineup will look like in Melbourne?