With no soccer to entertain me, my mind does a lot of wandering. Yesterday, I found myself thinking about when I used to play five-a-side soccer back in college. As the name suggests, there are only five field players in this version of the beautiful game. The goals are smaller, the field is smaller, space is at a premium, and close control and passing ability are paramount.
Five-a-side is less about which team has the better athletes and more about which team is more technically skilled. Therefore, I may have picked players that wouldn’t typically spring to mind. For the purposes of this team, I’ll be running a 2-2-1 formation. Away we go.
Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese
Even simply on the surface of things it makes sense to include the most talented Lions goalkeeper to date. Gallese has quick reflexes, is a good shot stopper, and — perhaps most importantly — is very good with his feet. Goalkeepers in a five-a-side game are frequently asked to play the ball outside of their own box, and to play themselves and their team out of trouble. Gallese is comfortable on the ball and is the best distributor of the ball Orlando has ever had in net, and he gets the nod.
Defender: Robin Jansson
Jansson is one of the better defenders that Orlando City has had. The trait that made me include him here is his positioning. He isn’t the fastest, tallest, or most physical defender, but he’s usually done a good job of making sure he and his defensive partner are where they’re supposed to be. He’s a capable ball-playing center back, and his positional awareness will be important because of who will be playing next to him.
Defender: Junior Urso
Perhaps a slightly unconventional choice for the second defender, Urso has the physical traits to cover up for Jansson’s deficiencies. His quickness and athleticism aren’t the most important aspects but they mean he would dovetail well with Jansson at the back. What is the most important is his ability on the ball. Defenders in five-a-side games are frequently asked to step into the opponents’ half and contribute when on offense, and I envision Urso going forward into the attacking end while Jansson is the last man back.
Midfielder: Mauricio Pereyra
Pereyra is one half of the midfield two, and he’s important to that duo because of his versatility. Not only is he skilled on the ball and possesses the ability to pick a pass, but he’s also more than capable of winning the ball in the midfield. In this team he would be asked to do the work of harrying and winning the ball off the opposing team in the midfield when on defense, while being a creative force on the ball on offense.
One of the two most creative attacking players Orlando has ever had, the Brazilian’s inclusion is a no-brainer on the list. His passing, dribbling, and shooting abilities mean that it makes all the sense in the world to have him on this team. Kaká wouldn’t be asked to do as much of the defensive work as Pererya would be, leaving him to pick passes and get into dangerous spaces in the opponents half.
Rather than choose a conventional striker to be deployed up top, I again went for versatility, something that by now you’ve probably noticed is a recurring thing on this team. Like Kaká, Nani is a deadly shooter, passer, and dribbler, and freeing him of serious defensive responsibilities would allow him to attack to his heart’s content. While not a conventional striker, his team-high 12 goals last year show that he’d be more than capable of finding the back of the net.
All in all, the things I valued most in this team are versatility and ability on the ball. Being composed and confident on the ball and able to fill multiple roles is of supreme importance in the five-a-side game, especially when it comes to the back line and midfield. As far as the makeup of the team goes, while I wanted to include more players from the club’s earlier days, the simple fact is that Orlando has signed higher caliber players as the years have gone on.
What do you think of my team? I’m very curious to see what sort of roster and lineup you guys would go with, so be sure to let me know in the comments!