We're not quite through a third of the 2016 MLS season, but Orlando City has played 10 games so far this year and that's a somewhat worthy mark to start judging a team.
The Lions are sitting on 11 points through their first 10 games at 2-3-5, and are just outside of the playoff table as it stands right now. So as you can tell, things haven't been all too great to start the club's second campaign in the league.
So with that, here are my 10 thoughts on Orlando City through 10 games:
Joe Bendik has been everything Orlando City fans could have hoped for this season. With all the preseason talk of Earl Edwards Jr. and Bendik's rough past in Toronto, there's absolutely no way the 27-year-old could have proven doubters any more wrong to this point. He's only recorded one shutout this season, but even with a shaky defense in front of him he's stopped 36 shots with 16 goals against. Not too shabby.
Most Valuable Molino
Kevin Molino is back -- finally. After struggling to open his MLS account for so long, Molino has finally found his scoring form this season. Molino has four goals in 2016, with two assists to his credit. He's looking like the scoring threat we knew so well during the USL days, and is finally showing the league what made Orlando City sign him to an MLS deal more than a year before entering the league.
No More Nocerino
Unfortunately, it's far too easy for us to say Orlando City and Antonio Nocerino just aren't a good fit together. The Italian midfielder has played in seven games for his new outfit -- all starts -- and hasn't looked remotely good in any of those starts relative to what the club spent to get him over here. He's struggled to make an impact for the Lions, struggled with turnovers, and doesn't look at all to be a decent fit for Orlando City or even MLS in general. It's early, but it might be time for Orlando City to pull the plug on this one.
About This Whole Left Back Thing
Speaking about pulling the plug on things, it's probably past time to end the Brek Shea-at-left back project. Shea's move to the back line can be traced back to Jurgen Klinsmann and the USMNT's need for a solid starting left back, but Shea hasn't been getting too many call-ups lately, and even more so, he's looked far less effective for Orlando City than many were hoping he would be coming back to the league from Stoke City. Shea's defense has always been a liability for Orlando City; attacking is his biggest contribution to the team -- even if it hasn't been seen much -- and moving him back up to the left wing could possibly be much more beneficial to Orlando City over the long term.
No Sophomore Slump
Cyle Larin has picked up right where he left off for Orlando City last season, with four goals in his first nine appearances (eight starts) this season. Larin's going to be sold sometime in the next 12-16 months if I had to guess, and he's going to bring in a lot of money for MLS and Orlando City, especially if he keeps on racking up the goals like he has been.
Something Something Winter Is Coming
Adrian Winter sure has won over the minds of a lot of Orlando City fans. The winger brings a lot to the field, mostly in his energy and mobility across the field. The arrival of Nocerino has made it tough for him to get enough time on the field lately, which some could argue has been hurting Orlando City to a degree. And while I don't totally agree with that opinion, I should say Winter needs to get on the field more. He's good at getting forward, is one of those players than can create plays from defense, and gives you an honest effort from the moment he steps on the field to the minute he goes to bed at night.
Defense, Defense, Defense
It's been a big problem again for Orlando City. Like I mentioned with Bendik, who played behind a struggling back line in Toronto, things don't seem to be all too different for him in Orlando. The Lions have been turning the wheel on center backs this season, between Aurelien Collin, who's been traded, Seb Hines, Tommy Redding, and David Mateos. Rafael Ramos has looked pretty bad more often than not, and like I just said, Brek has been a problem in the back, too. This summer window is going to be an important time for the club to sure up its back line if it is serious about competing for a trophy this season.
That Damn Injury Bug
It's bitten Orlando City again this season. Just yesterday, it was reported that Darwin Ceren would be out for five-to-six weeks due to a high ankle sprain. Kaká has missed games due to injury. Larin has been hurt. Mateos has been hurt. Cristian Higuita has been hurt. And Luke Boden. And Ramos. And so on and so on. It wasn't until the match against the New York Red Bulls a couple weeks ago that the Lions were able to field their first choice starting lineup for the first time this season. For a team whose jersey sponsor is "Orlando Health," Orlando City has been anything but healthy since entering MLS.
You don't need to hear about this again, do you?
Goals on Goals
I don't know what this merits in your eyes, but Orlando City has managed to score in all 10 of its games this season. For a team that struggled to score goals during stretches often last season, that does seem like a big improvement for the club. Now, if the Lions can just get their defense in order they might actually be pretty damn good.
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What are your thoughts on the team through their first 10 games this season? Comment below!