Orlando City conceded 56 goals last year in MLS play last year which ranked 17th out of 20 teams. Orlando City played different combinations within its back four. This is partly due to injuries and suspensions but back line play is built on consistency. Center backs are the focal point of the back line, which is built on communication and positioning.
In a back four system, the center backs have to cover 75 percent of the field. They cover the zone they are in and the zones next to them. The center backs have to be the communicators on the field. Their responsibility is to deny the first ball in, delay when they don't have support, and destroy strikers when the defensive shape is in their favor.
Orlando City has a number of talented center backs in Aurélien Collin, Seb Hines, David Mateos, Tommy Redding, and Conor Donovan. If things get desperate, Orlando could use Luke Boden as the club did in one match last year. Collin has been the constant and brings the communication and aggressiveness a good center back needs. Collin is also excellent in the air which makes him the likely day one starter.
The big question is who will play alongside Collin. The popular choices are Mateos and Hines. Both Mateos and Hines had minimal matches last year. The question is not who the better player is, but who plays well with Collin. My belief is that Mateos brings more experience to the field and more conservative play that will mesh well with Collin. The problem Mateos had last year was his pace and positioning made him look lost on many of his goals. Hines on the other hand had the pace to deal with many of the speedy strikers he faced but tended to lack the killer instinct while defending.
This position battle will continue throughout the pre-season and up to the season opener. I don't believe Orlando City has the center back play to make it to the playoffs. The mid-season transfer window might provide depth for Orlando City but I foresee defensive woes that may cost Orlando City precious early season points