This off-season Orlando City SC has acquired five new players, forward Stéfano Pinho, midfielders Jose Villarreal and Sacha Kljestan, and defenders RJ Allen and Mohamed El-Munir. While the new signings bring fresh blood and reinforcements into the fold, there are still some gaps that need to be filled; especially if one or more players end up leaving the club before the season begins.
While Allen and El-Munir have been brought in, both of the players are fullbacks. Their additions bring needed strength to the outside of defense but the terms of the Sacha Kljestan acquisition has left the center of defense looking a little sparse. With Tommy Redding being part of the trade to bring Kljestan to Orlando, that really only leaves José Aja as an option at center back alongside Jonathan Spector. Simply put, two center backs won’t cut it for the duration of an MLS season.
Whether the club would want to sign an established MLS center back or look overseas is anyone’s guess but it wouldn’t be surprising to see a player signed at this position before the season starts.
Following the club parting ways with Antonio Nocerino and Servando Carrasco at the end of the season, the team is a bit thin on options at defensive midfield. The Lions still retain the services of Cristian Higuita, Dillon Powers and Will Johnson, all of whom are capable of playing in that area. New signings Kljestan and Villarreal both tend to play more attacking roles, so a little more depth at the spine of the midfield would be welcomed. Again, there are some players still on the roster that could do a job at defensive midfield if the need arose, but the preference would be to bring someone in who plays there on a regular basis.
Following the departure of Carlos Rivas to the New York Red Bulls as a makeweight in the deal to put Kljestan in a purple shirt, OCSC currently has three forwards on its roster: Stefano Pinho, Dom Dwyer (who just signed a new contract), and Cyle Larin. Now, unless you’re living under a rock you’re probably aware of the chatter linking Larin with a move abroad. If you weren’t aware of this, wake up and smell the roses. Whether it’s a move to Leeds United, Besiktas, or Borussia Monchengladbach there’s been a lot of talk that Larin is on his way out. If he does indeed leave then a new signing at forward is almost certainly imminent, much like the center back position, as going through the MLS season with only two true strikers probably isn’t a wise move.
While there was talk in the fall of the Lions signing former Malmö player Jo Inge Berget, that chatter has since died down. Whether the Norwegian would be the first port of call if Larin leaves is anybody’s guess, but if he does go, a new signing for the front line would be a welcome sight.
With those positions identified as areas that OCSC could stand to strengthen its ranks, I want to hear your thoughts on the matter. Are there other areas you would like to see signings made? Do you have any particular names in mind either for the areas listed above or ones you feel should be addressed? Let us know in the comments, and have a swell day.