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Is Orlando's Aging Midfield an Issue?

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The Lions have made reaching the playoffs an obsession, but have they sacrificed the development of the next wave in the middle of the pitch?

New York City FC v Orlando City SC
Kaka
Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images

Three games, two home wins and one loss, with a fourth game to be played in just hours. Three goals scored and just as many conceded. To some, Orlando City has had an acceptable start. For others, like myself, this can be seen as a stuttering beginning to a long season with many up and downs.

Two weeks ago, after the Lions’ win against the Philadelphia Union, I expressed my concerns due to the style of game play shown in the first home matches. Although many of the fans were still exhilarated with six points out of six, the party was over last week with the loss against Columbus. Was it really a surprise that the Lions lost on the road? For those of us who watch "the beautiful game" from a tactical view, we knew it was bound to happen soon. The worst part is I still have a gut wrenching feeling things won't get any better for the Lions.

Defensively, Orlando City is very organized, which is something to be proud of. Jonathan Spector makes the back four much more solid. Adding to that, the always reliable Joe Bendik is solid between the posts. Where Orlando’s problem lies is in the midfield. Antonio Nocerino is a good defensive midfielder but does little in chance creation. Matias Perez Garcia can only do so much and Giles Barnes sparks here and there.

Some fans say that with Will Johnson back at center midfield things might change for the good. Let's add to that Kaká will be returning soon, which will only add more firepower to the attack. But the club needs more from an aging midfield.

There's only so much Jason Kreis can do. In my opinion, his 4-4-2 formation is the correct one. The problem comes in the squad depth, where attacking-wise, there's only a handful of quality options. I, for one, am happy with some of the signings that arrived for this season, but have serious doubts for the team's near future. Is the club only thinking of grasping the playoffs and calling it a successful season?

What happens if Orlando City does make it to the playoffs? Can the team really build a future for years to come with this squad? Kaká (34), Nocerino (32, as of today), MPG (32), and Will Johnson (30) are all on the down sides of their respective careers. This is my main concern. In my opinion, making it to the playoffs means little when the best players will start seeing their legs getting exhausted by that day.

It's worrisome, to say the least, to see the Lions don't have a real project set for the future. Every team goes through a metamorphosis when a younger generation comes in to fill in the shoes of those retiring. During this time, teams usually suffer a lot result-wise. And as Lions fans, we would all hate to see more seasons without making the playoffs. I'd rather go another season without making the postseason, knowing the club is working on being a consistent title-chasing team.

Yes I agree, there 's some light with the young talent in Cyle Larin, Carlos Rivas, Tommy Redding and Danny Deakin. But is that enough? what about the midfielders? Isn't that where the biggest problem lies?

The club should focus on acquiring young prospects from around the world and start thinking about replacements for Kaká, MPG, and Nocerino. It would be great if they did it now, as this gives incoming talent a feel of what the club means and the objectives for the future. Having players like Kaká and Nocerino can also help the growth of young talent.

We must not think only a season at a time. Sure, it will be amazing if Orlando City makes the playoffs this year, but let's also think of tomorrow. Our heroes aren't getting any younger. Change is imminent. It's about time for a new pride of Lions to walk in.