Earlier this week Orlando City signed versatile, 30-year-old, veteran defender Jonathan Spector. Capable of playing right back, center back, and defensive midfielder, with international and European experience, Spector instantly makes Orlando City better. His leadership, versatility, work ethic, and defensive capabilities make him a key addition to the team.
But, just as with every signing, bringing in Spector will be a big blow to other players on the roster. Orlando City has had one of the worst defenses since joining Major League Soccer in 2015, and while Spector may be the missing piece, it forces other players out of Kreis’ thoughts.
The most obviously player is Seb Hines. In 2016, Hines was, well, pretty awful. Re-signing him caused quite the stir from the Orlando City faithful, but he does add a decent amount of depth. While Hines should not be starting, he is a viable option in cases of injury. Now, after signing Spector, do not expect to see much of Hines at all. He will not be in the 18 very often and will most likely only get time in cases of injures or U.S. Open Cup.
Orlando City’s young center backs are also hurt by this signing. Connor Donovan will most likely play with OCB, and Tommy Redding will be on the bench. Both have the potential to be the future starting duo for the Lions, but currently they must fight their way up to have a shot with the starting XI.
As for David Mateos, there is no longer a need for him. Jose Aja and Spector will be starting and there is solid backup for the two of them. Mateos’ huge contract has held Orlando back from making many other signings this off-season and his days in purple are likely numbered.
But Spector does not just affect the center backs. Yes, Kreis has said that Spector will be a center back, but his versatility was a major signing point. Spector may just push Kevin Alston out of the starting 18 as well. If Ramos needs to go out of the game, Spector can slide over to right back and someone like Redding can come on.
As for the left backs, it is Donny Toia’s spot to lose. Spector does not have an immediate impact here and Toia will be there for the large majority of the season.
The major point of Spector is that he provides competition across the entire back line. If any one of the defenders gets complacent or their form starts to suffer, there is an immediate replacement. The position battles will force players to be at their best at all times. Many times throughout the 2015 and 2016 seasons, defensive errors led to goals against Orlando City. If this happens in 2017, that player will be on the bench.