Orlando City made plenty of roster moves prior to and even since the start of the season. Change is inevitable, but not all change is good. That being said, the changes Orlando City has made seem to be making a difference early in the season.
The biggest moves were made on the defensive side of the ball. Orlando City added Jonathan Spector, Donny Toia, Victor “PC” Giro, and, most recently, Scott Sutter to the defensive line. Sutter just arrived and hasn’t had a chance to do much yet, but he could certainly bolster the right side of the back four. PC hasn’t seen any playing time yet either, but as we all know, depth is good.
Spector and Toia have been much more present and effective. Spector has become a commanding, stabilizing force in the middle of the back line. He has galvanized the defense with his play, his tactics, and his communication. Include the solid play from Toia on the left side and it’s easy to see how the defensive unit that was once an obvious weak point of the team has now become a strength.
I know you’re thinking I’ve forgotten about Will Johnson, but I haven’t. Yes, he’s been doing very well serving along the right side of the defense, but that is not his usual position — which makes his play there all the more impressive. Johnson is a defensive midfielder, who was pressed into service at right back after preseason injuries sidelined Rafael Ramos and Kevin Alston. Hopefully the addition of Sutter and improving health of Alston will allow the Canadian to move back to his natural position and bolster the midfield.
Kaká’s injury forced some adjustments throughout the midfield, most notably the addition of Giles Barnes, who came on after the captain went down. One of his first touches as a Lion was a beautiful cross to Cyle Larin for Orlando City’s first goal of the year. Since then, he’s been a solid, albeit different, replacement for Kaká. Barnes hasn’t been the only adjustment needed. Matías Pérez-García has been an energizer bunny, Servando Carrasco has been solid, and Antonio Nocerino has been spectacular. Kaká’s absence has also allowed others to see the field, with Hadji Barry and even Pierre Da Silva coming on as subs.
While there haven’t been any roster changes up top, all of the other changes have allowed Larin and Carlos Rivas to do what they need to do to get Orlando City three points in each of the first two matches. As Orlando City gets players back from various injuries, all of these roster changes will add the depth necessary for the Lions to hopefully make a deep run into the playoffs.