Orlando City’s 2017 was rough, so the front office and coaching staff have spent the off-season revamping the Lions’ roster. Many new players have been brought in and should help transform Orlando City from one of the league’s worst teams into playoff contenders.
However, it is the players brought in last season that will take home the awards at the end of the season. If Josué Colmán lives up to the hype, then he will be one of the team’s best players — but will he be the best Lion at the year's end?
Jonathan Spector is believed to be hands down the best defender on Orlando’s roster by many supporters, but I’m not buying it. Spector had a couple of excellent games last season, particularly early on, but so did many other Lions. In fact, I believe that he is overrated by Orlando City fans. Still, he will improve over last season and will make a case to be the best defender at the end of the season.
What will stop Spector from taking home the award is the consistency and attacking power that fullback Scott Sutter brings. One of the club’s most consistent players in 2017, the Englishman will keep that up this year. Similar to last season, Sutter will also see some of the highest minutes of any Orlando City field player.
It will be interesting to see if his attacking numbers (one goal, four assists in 2017) will improve, but he is a rock defensively and rarely commits mistakes.
Yoshi had one goal and four assists in his 10 games last year, averaging a point every other game. For a player having joined the team in the summer transfer window, Yotún had an amazing statistical year.
However, the stats do not do him justice. One look at the Peruvian will show that he is one of the best players on the field. His touch is the best on Orlando City and one of the best in the league, and even more impressive is his accuracy. Yotún could hit the ball across the entire field from deep in his own half and land it on a platter for the attacking player.
There isn’t really competition right now for Dom with the Cyle Larin Saga going on, so this is a no-brainer. Jose Villarreal, Stefano Pinho, and even Chris Mueller could put pressure on him, but ultimately Dwyer is the main man up top. Not only will Dwyer be the team’s best forward, but he will also end 2018 with the most goals for the Lions. It was not too long ago that Dwyer was one of the best goal scorers in the league, and with Sacha Kljestan, Colmán, and Justin Meram providing him service, the USMNT striker could end the year top five in goals scored in MLS.
Pierre Da Silva
Pierre Da Silva is all that is left of the youth system in Orlando’s squad. Goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar is there, but he is battling bone cancer and is also buried deep on the depth chart with Joe Bendik leading the way. With OCB, Da Silva changed the game and there was a noticeable difference from when he was on the field and when he was not.
However, last year there was an awkward gap with the former academy player being too good for the USL but not good enough for MLS, which resulted in just one MLS minute. This year is the perfect opportunity for Da Silva to prove that he can play at this level and I fully believe that he will live up to expectations.
It will be tough for him to break out initially, and the teenager will need to earn his place first in preseason and then week in and week out in practice. He will not start many games, but look for him to be a spark off the bench.
Kljestan is arguably the best assist man in MLS, and this will not stop because of a change in location. The midfielder will keep up his performances from his time with the Red Bulls and be a key member in a new Orlando City team. Look for Kljestan to be the spark in the Lions’ attacks this season.
Meram is also on his way to Orlando and will be a huge bonus for the Lions. The midfielder should also end up being one of the team’s best new additions, and the added attacking power should help make up for what is currently a weak defense. Kljestan will most likely still have the better 2018, but with the help of Meram the Lions are sure to find the back of the net in bunches.
Yoshi will not only be Orlando City’s MVP, but — if his numbers back up his performances — he should be a league MVP finalist as well. There are only a handful of players who have as good of a touch as him, and Yotún will not only be one of the best attackers on Orlando City but will also recover defensively and help out on the opposite end of the pitch.