With its playoffs probabilities limited to 2%, it’s fair to say that Orlando City SC should consider the 2017 season done and start focusing on 2018 already. A big part of this shift concerns roster evaluation and, with eight matches still in hand, Head Coach Jason Kreis has valuable time to analyze all of his players.
While the 2018 roster has already started to be built with the arrivals of the likes of Dom Dwyer and Yoshismar Yotún, there is still a lot of evaluation to be made in some areas of the field. Here are three players who need to be assessed and could use more playing time to show they deserve a spot on the roster next year:
Earl Edwards Jr.
We all know what Joe Bendik is about, so it’s time to give Edwards Jr. some action. The 25-year-old UCLA product entered the season as Bendik’s most likely backup, but the Lions signed veteran Josh Saunders and relegated Edwards to the third goalkeeper spot.
With Saunders injured, it would be useful to see Edwards Jr. in the field for the first time in an MLS game. The goalkeeper has done a good job in the USL, helping Orlando City B with nine clean sheets in 22 matches and now it’s time to see if he can keep his productivity with the senior team.
Victor ‘PC’ Giro
The 23-year-old Brazilian was brought in from the Tampa Bay Rowdies to be a backup in the left back position behind Donny Toia. He impressed in his first training sessions with the Lions and became a viable starter but Toia eventually assured his spot.
PC played only five matches with Orlando City and amassed one assist in his very first game with the team. Since then, he has been plagued by injuries and saw his playing time disappear, having last played two months ago. The Brazilian is still listed by the club as injured, but he did have a rehab start at Louisville City with OCB last weekend, and it would be nice to see where he stands and if the Lions should consider the left back position one they don’t need to worry about.
The 24-year-old Guinea native has a lot of competitors for a spot up front with Cyle Larin and Dwyer as the presumable starters and Carlos Rivas and Giles Barnes behind them. However, except for Dwyer, the other three have their futures with the club uncertain and this could be a good opportunity to see if the Lions can count on Barry for 2018.
The forward has barely had playing time in 2017 — only 11 minutes over three matches — but led OCB to a successful run in the USL, scoring eight goals in 13 matches. If he can keep this standard, Barry could become a good bench option for the Lions.