Through Orlando City’s MLS existence the club has consistently been poor on the defensive end of the ball. This off-season, the Lions have re-signed Seb Hines, extended Jose Aja’s contract, held onto David Mateos, and were close to signing Gregory Sertic. While some of these moves were controversial, a major goal this off-season has been improving the defense.
The next player rumored to be signing for Orlando City is Jonathan Spector, and he could be one of the pieces to finally get Orlando City into the playoffs. Spector has been allowed to leave early from his contract with English Championship side Birmingham City and according to FourFourTwo’s Paul Tenorio, may soon be coming to Orlando City.
To follow up on my reporting from yesterday: Jonathan Spector to Orlando City all but done on a discovery claim, per multiple league sources— Paul Tenorio (@PaulTenorio) January 20, 2017
Spector has come out of the Fire Academy, but left early to join Manchester United, where he became the first American outfield player to make an appearance for the Red Devils. Making only three appearances for United, he was moved around in England before landing at Birmingham where he would become a staple in the second division team.
Spector would bring to Orlando City exactly what it is missing. He is a veteran player with international experience. While Bob Bradley was coaching the USMNT, Spector was a mainstay on the team, and was even part of the U.S. squad that beat Spain in the 2009 Confederations Cup. This experience cannot be overlooked, as the Lions currently have only three defenders over 24 years old out of the 10 on the roster.
Additionally, Spector is a quick player and good in the air. In 2016, Orlando City defenders were often slow off the mark or in getting to the ball. Spector’s combined experience and quickness should be a big advantage moving forward. It is important to note that he is not fast, but quick. Spector will not beat many players in a foot race, and if he gets caught up the field, he may not be able to recover. However, Spector can read the play well and has good reactions to the ball which makes him quick to loose balls.
He also has the versatility to play many different positions. A natural right back-turned-center back who can also play holding midfielder, Spector will add much-needed competition to many areas on the field.
Spector’s best quality is his defensive work rate. On the field he is a work horse, and where he is not the most technically gifted player in the world, there are not many players that out hustle him.
So what can be expected of him if this rumor becomes official? Well, there will not be any fireworks from him and it may even take some time for him to acclimate into the squad. But, when called upon, expect for him to do his job, and for any Orlando City fan that should be all they ask of their defenders after two years of sloppy work. He will not turn the ball over often, and if he does, he will not stop until he wins it back.
Most likely his salary will be paid with TAM, and he will be one of the higher paid players on the roster, but this move will be worth it as he will make all defenders on the team prove why they should be on the team, especially Hines and Kevin Alston who both could be without a contract at the end of 2017.