Orlando City’s long off-season is finally over. The team kicked off its preseason this week in its new training facility. OCSC is a mostly new team in 2020, with plenty of new faces but the same end goal of making the playoffs.
The Lions have failed to make the postseason since entering MLS in 2015. In that time, Orlando’s never had a positive goal differential after a season and has yet to win more than 12 games in one campaign.
It is safe to say that the team has been sub-par since joining the top-flight league. And yet, every season, there have been individuals who perform at a high level for the Lions. Cyle Larin did so in 2015 with his 17 goals. Júlio Baptista was excellent in a substitute role in 2016. In 2017, Jonathan Spector was a bright spot on the dismal Orlando City back line. The year after that, Scott Sutter turned heads and 2019 saw Chris Mueller break into the starting XI.
The one thing all those players had in common was that not much was expected of them before the season started. Looking ahead to the 2020 season, will any Orlando City players continue this trend? Below are a few new players who could have a breakout season for the Lions.
The first-round pick could spearhead the attack this season. Dom Dwyer struggled last season, although he could very well bounce back this year. Regardless, Dike could put some more pressure on Dwyer. The 19-year-old has tremendous potential and was expected to be well off the board by the time Orlando was on the clock in the draft. He is a natural scorer who also has excellent holdup play ability to bring his teammates into the offense. Look for him to light up the charts with not only goals, but assists as well.
Let’s face it. Brian Rowe was a good goalkeeper. He was not outstanding by any means, but he made the saves that needed to be made and proved that he should be the number one choice last season.
But he rarely made that spectacular save that made a highlight reel and turned the tide for the Lions in a match. If Gallese does all of that then it will not take long for him to win the hearts of Orlando City supporters.
The Peruvian brings experience at the highest levels to Orlando, with 60 games for his country under his belt and starts in the Copa Libertadores and Copa America. At 29 years old, he is experienced and entering the typical prime years for goalkeepers, so Gallese might end up being the best goalkeeper in Orlando City history if things go well.
Just how good is he? Well, he earned the nickname of the Octopus and you can check out the highlight video below to see why.
Speaking of nicknames, Júnior “Bear” Urso can transform Orlando’s midfield into a real threat this upcoming season. He likely will play in a midfield three with Sebas Méndez and Mauricio Pereyra in 2020. Méndez and Pereyra showed their ability last season, and are both easily two of the best players on the team. Urso could elevate them even more, as the box-to-box midfielder will link up with his teammates, be a force defensively, and fire shots from distance. While he may not lead Orlando in goals by the end of the season, look for him to be involved in a majority of them.
Which new players do you think will have breakout seasons for Orlando in 2020? Let us know in the comments below.