The secondary transfer window has opened up for MLS today, marking the start of an important month for Orlando City, which needs just as much as any team to take advantage of this opportunity to bring in reinforcements for the stretch run towards the playoffs.
Sitting just outside of the playoffs heading into its game at FC Dallas tonight, Orlando City needs help to get to the finish. The Lions have already stated they expect to be busy during the window, hoping to bring in anywhere from two to four pieces, according to Head Coach Adrian Heath.
"The three or four players that we've mentioned have come from all over," Heath said after training Saturday. "Players are available in Europe, so that's one avenue, and we've just had the Copa América, where we've scouted some players, and some players we were interested in before. So, we are making inroads. I'll be really disappointed if we don't get two to three players in at the start of the window.
"We're looking to add at probably every position on the team, as far as defense, midfield and forward. Probably in the next week to 10 days, we'll be a lot [more] clear about where we are moving forward."
The club has several needs throughout the field, but more specially across the back line, but more specifically, here are their top needs to address during the transfer window, which closes Aug. 3.
This has been the team’s biggest need for a while now. Last night, the club reportedly began on working to sign Stoke City defender Dionatan Teixeira, who was expected to join the team this week at the earliest, once the window officially opened. However, that process may be delayed, reports the Sentinel, as paperwork and physicals continue to be worked through.
Even if they can get to the finish line with Teixeira, that still wouldn’t enough to sure up the center back spot. David Mateos and Seb Hines have been good at times, but susceptible to breakdowns in key spots. Tommy Redding has shown a ton of upside this season, and while he’s clearly the man to build around on the back line, he’s still young and can occasionally prove that.
Finding that replacement for Aurelien Collin, who was traded to the New York Red Bulls in May, still remains a big must.
Look at all of the most recent MLS Cup champions — Portland Timbers, LA Galaxy, Sporting KC — all of them won the Cup with elite center back pairings. Orlando City needs to follow that model to have any chance of competing for a playoff spot in the East.
The sudden departure of Adrian Winter leaves the team with several questions, and potentially affects the team’s outside back situation, which was already hurting.
With Winter gone, Orlando City could either go all in on Carlos Rivas’ development in hopes he continues to make strides through the end of the season, or slide Brek Shea back up into his more familiar spot on the left wing and start Luke Boden at left back.
On the other side of the field, Rafael Ramos, in addition to just flat out looking bad most of the time, has struggled to stay healthy lately after his most recent hamstring injury he suffered against Ft. Lauderdale in the U.S. Open Cup. Kevin Alston has shown well in his starts so far, but still there’s a deep need for help in that spot.
While Brek can always stay in that left back spot if need be, having depth on the right that’s also versatile enough to help on the left would be nice.
This has been a need for a while, and for a while it still hasn’t been addressed.
Julio Baptista has been slotted into the attacking midfield role a couple of times, but his best spot is up front where he can do the most damage in front of goal. Antonio Nocerino can, in theory, play the No. 10 role, but nah.
Kaká has struggled to stay healthy this season, and having a true replacement for him in the lineup has been a big problem for Heath, who at times has also turned to Kevin Molino to move more centrally.
And now Winter’s loss leaves the team even more thin on attackers in the midfield.
Orlando City is not out of contention for the MLS Cup yet by ay stretch of the imagination — anything can happen in MLS — but the Lions need to add these pieces to have any real chance.