The speculation finally, mercifully, came to an end Thursday afternoon when Orlando City SC officially announced the signing of midfielder Antonio Nocerino, ending weeks of conjecture and reports of the well-covered negotiations.
With the signing comes the lovely addition of something Head Coach Adrian Heath lacked last year -- options. While our own Gavin Ewbank pointed out in the linked story above that Nocerino prefers a defensive midfield position, he's quite capable of playing anywhere in the midfield in Inchy's 4-2-3-1 formation.
I expect to see the now former AC Milan representative line up at all five spots this season. Remember when players such as Lewis Neal and Eric Avila were in the starting Xl? Never again, my friends.
The Twittersphere came alive when news was made official.
@OrlandoCitySC as a 95-96 Bulls fan, Darwin Ceren and Nocerino controlling the midfield with Kaka, Rivas and Larin attacking is frightening— Cadillac Williams (@sAbdi28) February 18, 2016
@OrlandoCitySC FINALLY— Chris Moreo (@ChrisMoreo) February 18, 2016
@MLS @OrlandoCitySC class signing— Tommy Tomlinson (@Tommyswfc) February 19, 2016
While some fans feel this is simply the beginning.
Still work for OCSC to do..— Chris (@OrlandoCountySC) February 19, 2016
Midfield Depth/Adding Big Talent ✔
Vet Centerback ⚪
Backup Striker ⚪
Still time to do what we need to do
What Nocerino could bring to the defensive midfield alongside Darwin Cerén or Cristian Higuita is something that Kaká showed a desperate need for throughout 2015 -- linking play from the defense into the attack. His vision and skill moving forward should provide a new twist to what's shaping up to be a dynamic attack in the form of Cyle Larin, Carlos Rivas, Kevin Molino, Nocerino and Kaká.
While his right-footed preference will likely keep him from seeing too much time on the left, he certainly is capable of playing the position. I anticipate seeing more of him elsewhere throughout the formation, providing crucial depth after we saw what international call-ups, suspensions, and injuries can do to an overworked, thin roster.
It's true the Lions still have holes to fill, as one Orlando City fan noted above. But in this moment, it feels good to have landed such a high quality player on the roster.
Come March 6, we can see how this depth shakes out when we all #FillTheBowlAgain.