Tomorrow marks the first day of the inaugural Orlando City Invitational, which will see Orlando City SC and three other MLS teams play preseason friendlies at Orlando City Stadium. Minnesota United FC will take on the New England Revolution in Saturday’s early game at 4:30 p.m. ET, with Orlando City facing New York City FC later that evening at 7:30 p.m.
This is the first of Orlando City’s preseason friendlies this year that will be open to the public, with another game against the Revs taking place next Wednesday. Both games should provide some good insight regarding a couple areas where there are still some questions ahead of the new season.
Earlier this week our own Michael Citro talked about how there may be trouble on the horizon offensively this season, considering that the Lions have only scored three times in three preseason games. While first choice striker Dom Dwyer has been unavailable due to injury, Dwyer also can’t be expected to score all the goals and one of the team’s biggest issues last year was an alarming drop off in scoring. Dom finished first, with 13 goals, and Sacha Kljestan was a distant second, with six. The team as a whole had trouble putting the ball in the back of the net, only managing a paltry 43 goals across 34 matches.
Plenty of help has been brought in at forward with the acquisitions of Tesho Akindele, Benji Michel, and Santiago Patiño, but none really excel at playing out wide or in the attacking midfield, two areas where the roster looks a little thin. Perhaps Josué Colmán will have a breakout year and Jhegson Sebastián Méndez will adapt to MLS quickly to help fill those gaps. Although tomorrow will by no means determine the course of their whole seasons, it should give us a slightly better idea of what to expect moving forward.
The Army of New Signings
In total, there are currently 10 new signings on the Lions’ roster and tomorrow will be fans’ first glimpse of some of them. The aforementioned Sebas will have plenty of eyes on him as a young international player, and it will be interesting to see if Ruan can bounce back from his rocky start against the Philadelphia Union that saw him give away a penalty. In general, it will be the first chance to lay eyes on the new arrivals in town, and may provide a little indication of who James O’Connor believes his best XI to be. Seven new faces started the last friendly against the Philadelphia Union and it’ll be interesting to see what changes O’Connor makes to his starting lineup and what formation he decides to deploy the team in and what style of play the team uses.
State of the Goalkeeper Position
Allowing four goals against the Union was not a great start for Orlando’s goalkeeping corps. But, as mentioned above, one preseason game doesn’t mean the entire season will be a disaster. With trialist Brian Rowe getting the start during Tuesday’s game, it wouldn’t be surprising to see one of the other three names in the starting XI come Saturday. Aside from Rowe, none of Greg Ranjitsingh, Mason Stadjuhar, or Adam Grinwis have much MLS experience (zero, in fact, from Ranjitsingh and Stadjuhar) but the four have apparently been more or less on the same level throughout preseason. Tomorrow could be our first look at seeing Stadjuhar and Ranjitsingh playing against high-level competition in Orlando purple, and a solid performance from whoever is in between the sticks could go a long way towards claiming the number one spot — or, in Rowe’s case, moving from trialist to a full-fledged Lion.
Is there anything in particular you’ll be watching for tomorrow? Feel free to have your say and let me know in the comments below.