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Orlando City’s Rebuild: A Status Update

A look at the moves Orlando City has made and needs to make.

SOCCER: OCT 06 MLS - Chicago Fire at Orlando City SC Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Following the 2019 season, Orlando City had a lot to do to rebuild the team in Luiz Muzzi’s and Oscar Pareja’s vision. With the departure of Lamine Sané, Cristian Higuita, Will Johnson, and others, there were and are positions of need going forward. Let’s take a look at how the Lions have been doing so far.

Goalkeeper

Orlando City had four goalkeepers on the team last season, but let Greg Ranjitsingh and U.S. Open Cup hero Adam Grinwis go. The Lions have Brian Rowe on contract through 2020, and re-signed Homegrown goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar. However, if Orlando wants to get to the playoffs, it will need an A-tier level goalkeeper between the sticks. We know that the club has been in discussions with Peru national team goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, but as of the time of this writing, there’s been no confirmed deal yet. If the Lions don’t get Gallese, they will need to bring in someone else.

Defense

Orlando City had potentially its best center back pairing in the team’s MLS history with Lamine Sané and Robin Jansson. Sané’s salary was something the front office wasn’t willing to carry going forward, while Jansson was still under contract. The Lions also parted ways with Shane O’Neill and Carlos Ascues. Initially, Alex De John’s contract option was also declined but he was since re-signed. That left Orlando with just Jansson, De John, and Kamal Miller at center back.

To address the center back need, Orlando City acquired Argentinian defender Rodrigo Schlegel from Racing Club of Argentina’s Primera División, and Brazilian defender Antônio Carlos from Brazilian Série A side Palmeiras. Both were brought in on one-year loans with options to buy. As good as Sané was, these two signings will bring quality and depth needed at the position.

Midfield

Last season, the Lions signed Mauricio Pereyra in the summer window, bringing some much-needed quality to the attack. Orlando City was a bit overloaded with defensive midfielders, but with the departure of Ascues, Johnson, Higuita, Dillon Powers, and Sacha Kljestan additional help is needed. So far, the Lions brought Uri Rosell back after initially declining his contract option. The team also signed Jordan Bender and David Loera have to Homegrown Player contracts. Bender is a product of Orlando City Academy, and Orlando City B. Loera is also a product of the academy, and has been at North Carolina State University, where he’s been one of the best attacking midfielders in college. The Lions also continued the youth movement by bringing in Colombian midfielder Andrés Perea on loan from Atlético Nacional. It was assumed that Muzzi wanted to get younger and faster in the midfield, and that is what happening.

But experience is needed too and we’re hearing that the addition of Junior Urso, a 30-year-old from Corinthians in Brazil, is all but official. In fact, Transfermarkt already shows him as an Orlando City player, though that’s hardly official, Media outlets in South America have been reporting the Urso-to-Orlando news for more than a week.

Attack

Probably the greatest need for Orlando City is added firepower in the attack. Dom Dwyer had a down season, but finished the final games of the season strong and can be expected to be better in 2020. Nani is back and will continue to lead the team. Tesho Akindele had his best season in 2019, and has worked with Pareja at FC Dallas, so hopefully he can continue to build on his run of form. Chris Mueller improved his game but still isn’t consistently showing enough goal-scoring threat to be counted on. Benji Michel turned in a solid rookie season and grew as the year progressed, although Santiago Patino seemed to get lost in the crowd late in the season. Robinho is still on the roster and will be looking to make his mark under a new coach.

Despite all of that, the Lions need to find another attacking player, whether at forward or the wing opposite Nani. They need an attacker more like a Carlos Vela or a Josef Martinez. One name that was in the news was German Cano but — despite the fact that Pareja reportedly spoke to some South American media outlets about the forward — he never really seemed to be close to coming and has since signed a contract with Vasco da Gama in Brazil. Another dependable scoring option is needed and there haven’t been any credible rumors floating around such a player for Orlando City, but hopefully one will emerge soon.


What players are you hoping Orlando City will bring in? Let us know in the comments.