To me, the interesting note from the win over the New York Red Bulls was the play from veteran players. Will Johnson scored his 30th regular-season MLS goal, Dom Dwyer scored his second brace as a member of Orlando City, and Scott Sutter’s shot was deflected by Josué Colmán to ultimately win the game.
What do all of those players, excluding Colmán share? They are all age 27 or higher. Here’s each of those players’ MLS minutes and games played:
- Will Johnson— 242 games played with 19,775 minutes.
- Dom Dwyer— 141 games played with 11,081 minutes.
- Scott Sutter— international experience with Young Boys, along with 35 games played with 2,983 minutes.
These three were the reason the Lions got on the score sheet, but other veteran leadership also led to the first victory of the season.
Justin Meram had yet another scoreless outing, but he once again showcased his solid passing and dribbling, picking up an assist on the Will Johnson goal in the 15th minute.
Sacha Kljestan wore the captain’s armband in the absence of Jonathan Spector, and he owned up to it. He sent Meram into the box on the sequence that led to Orlando’s first goal and his vision to find Sutter off the late throw-in led to the winning goal.
As mentioned before, Spector did not play due to his concussion he sustained against New York City FC. Lamine Sané played average in his absence alongside Amro Tarek, but it was in just his first MLS start. The Bundesliga and Ligue 1 veteran made a few mistakes but also made some savvy plays, and should settle in with more minutes.
Having the likes of Dywer, Johnson, Spector, Sané, Meram, and Kljestan in the lineup at the same time is what Orlando City has been craving since the season began. The injuries piled up, but with most of the injuries being in the rear-view mirror, can these veterans lead Orlando City to victories?
The answer appears to be yes. With the mix of young talent and veteran leadership, a completely healthy Orlando City squad could compete with anyone in the Eastern Conference, as it showed against the New York Red Bulls, a team that had been largely firing on all cylinders this year, regardless of which lineup Jesse Marsch used.
As Spector should return soon, Orlando is almost at full strength, still missing Stéfano Pinho and Uri Rosell to injury as well. The return of Spector will give chemistry back to the back line while having veterans like Dwyer and Meram alongside the young Colmán can propel the attacking force that Orlando City needs.
Now, I pose this question our readers: Who is the most important veteran on Orlando City? Vote in the poll or comment below! Orlando plays the Portland Timbers this week as it looks to get its first win streak going this season.
Who is the most important veteran for Orlando City?
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