Orlando City's defense has been a letdown this year. The Lions' back line has let in a whopping 57 goals this season, which is higher than any other team in the league. Sure, there have been injuries and inconsistencies, but that's only part of the issue. There's been some sort of disconnect with the back line all year, no matter who they trot out there, even though it may not be solely a back line issue.
There have been spells with Tommy Redding and Seb Hines where it's worked well, then completely flipped on its head and been atrocious. Same with David Mateos and José Aja. With the outside backs, Rafael Ramos had a rough start to the season and then got injured. In stepped veteran Kevin Alston, who didn't really fare much better. Brek Shea moved away from the left back spot, leaving it for Luke Boden, but Bodz has struggled to keep up with many of the faster wing players in MLS. Mikey Ambrose was brought in recently from Orlando City B, but he's still young and has a learning curve ahead of him.
With all that, there are still some options for Jason Kreis to try before season's end that he has yet to explore. With Orlando City B making the playoffs, it may be tough to pull some players from the roster, but if or when the young Lions are eliminated it could be a good time to get some of the defenders some first-team minutes.
Center back Conor Donovan, who spent all season with OCB, had a very productive year coming back from ACL surgery. There were struggles along the way, but Donovan was able to anchor the back line for the young Lions and help get them into the playoffs.
There's also Devron Garcia, the 20-year-old from Honduras who has also had his moments with OCB. There's a lot of promise with Garcia, but there's still plenty of room for growth and experience. He has trained with the first team at points during the season and has even been in the 18 for a couple of games, so it's not out of the realm of possibility that he could get a look as a defensive option.
Tyler Turner is another possibility for the Lions. A Homegrown signing from 2014, Turner has had an up-and-down season. He finished the regular season tied for second on the team in goals scored, despite only scoring four. His defensive positioning has at times been fantastic, and at other times been less than stellar. Having consistent minutes with OCB has helped his development and could even get him a chance as a fullback for the MLS side, but Donovan and Garcia are more likely at this point.
In terms of the other OCB defenders that are actually signed to the USL roster and not the MLS roster, Zach Ellis-Hayden could get a shout for a one-game call-up. Getting the full-time starting job after Mikey Ambrose was called up to MLS duty, Ellis-Hayden has been aggressive and occasionally rash in terms of defending. Despite that, he has held up well against some of the more physical players in USL and had a Man of the Match performance in OCB's most recent game against Bethlehem, which clinched the young Lions a playoff spot.
If Kreis chooses not to go that route and sticks to his guns, he could always give the younger players currently on the MLS roster a run -- just to give them experience -- whatever may happen. As far as it looks right now, Orlando City is barely in the playoff race. So, if they fall out of it completely, we could definitely see any of these players getting a chance at first-team minutes.