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What Orlando City’s Midfield Could Look Like in 2018

With Kaká, Giles Barnes, and Antonio Nocerino gone, the Lions look poised to have a different outlook next year.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando City SC’s midfield is likely to have several new faces in 2018 after the team has made its first off-season moves. While most of the defenders and forwards of this year’s roster were kept under contract, the Lions’ midfield cut some important pieces.

The first and arguably most important one was Kaká, who decided not to re-sign with Orlando after three years. On Tuesday, the club announced that Antonio Nocerino, Servando Carrasco, Dillon Powers and Giles Barnes did not have their options picked by the club.

All of them, except Kaká and probably Nocerino, who already made his farewell to the club and city through social media, can still be re-signed by Orlando, but as of now the team’s roster has only six midfielders under contract: Will Johnson, Yoshimar Yotún, Cristian Higuita, Tony Rocha, Richie Laryea and Pierre Da Silva.

While the first three have proven to be MLS starting-level players, the other three are very young and are not expect to be part of the team’s backbone.

The Lions are expected to go to the transfer market and sign at least three new midfielders, but the decisions made by the front office so far already allow us to try to understand the options head coach Jason Kreis could have. Here are some of them:

4-4-2 Diamond

If Kreis returns to his preferred 4-4-2 diamond formation, he could have different outlooks depending on how he uses Yotún, who can play either in the left side of the diamond or on top, in an attacking midfielder role. Johnson is the likely option for the right side and Higuita could play the defensive midfielder role if no other played is signed for this position.

Attacking Flat 4-4-2

Another option available is to play with a flat 4-4-2 formation. In this scenario, Kreis could try an offensive approach, using Johnson and Yotún to fill the center portion of the field and adding two offensive-minded wingers on the sides. These players would have an important role feeding Dom Dwyer and Cyle Larin up front.

Defensive Flat 4-4-2

In this system, Kreis could opt for a more cautious lineup, placing Johnson and Yotún on the wings and protecting the penalty box with Higuita and another defensive midfielder. That would probably hurt Orlando’s firepower, but would make the Lions become a more solid team defensively.


If Larin leaves as reported, Dwyer could become a lone striker in the starting XI. With that, Kreis would be able to mix up a little bit of the previous formations, having two defensive midfielders, one number 10 and two wingers. This is the system used by most clubs in MLS now.

What do you think? Which of these options you believe to be the best? Have any other ideas? Share them with us in the comments box!