We’re about halfway through the international break, and it’s time to start getting ramped up for Orlando City’s return to the pitch. There’s been plenty of excitement since the last match, from the Orlando Pride remaining undefeated to the USMNT’s win over Mexico in the Concacaf Nations League final. While I don’t expect as much drama as that crazy U.S. win, we can still look ahead to some potential issues for Orlando City coming out of the break.
Can Brandon Austin Fill in for Pedro Gallese?
Orlando City’s first three matches following the break are “at” Toronto (in Exploria Stadium) on June 19, hosting San Jose on June 22, and at Miami on June 25. Pedro Gallese has matches with the Peruvian National team on June 17 against Brazil, June 20 against Colombia, June 23 against Ecuador, and June 27 against Venezuela. That means no El Pulpo in goal for the Lions’ first three matches. You might have noticed how good Gallese has been this season for Orlando City, and not having your first-choice keeper is always a concern. That means that Brandon Austin will get his first minutes of the regular season. Orlando City brought Austin in for exactly this reason, and I have confidence in the young man, but he will be filling some big shoes. Eight of them, actually. How Austin performs may have a big impact on how the Lions do over those three matches.
Is Striker Help on the Way?
Daryl Dike should make his return to Orlando City before the Lions’ first match after the break. We’ve seen Alexandre Pato working out on the sidelines with the club, and he seems to be progressing well, but are you confident he’ll be back and ready by June 19? I’m not. Oscar Pareja will be eager to get Dike back in the lineup as quickly as possible but there are teams interested in signing him and there could be a brief adjustment period as he reacclimates to the team. After all, he’s been gone for a long time. In the meantime, Tesho Akindele has been on a strong run of form just prior to the break. If you listened to the latest The Mane Land PawedCast, we spoke to Tesho about his approach to having good fellow strikers and what happens when they return to play.
Which Wingers Will Pareja Turn To?
Chris Mueller has had a tough start to the season, but as our own Ben Miller wrote, he might need to play his way back into form. Silvester van der Water, on the other hand, has only played a couple of matches, but already has a goal, an assist, and really should have more. He is creating chances, and creating some trouble for opposing sides. Nani will be back from suspension, and you can be sure he’ll be back in the starting lineup. That leaves Pareja with a conundrum. There’s no way Nani doesn’t play, but if Mueller needs to play to get back into form, what does he do with van der Water? I’ll admit there are worse problems to have.
Those are my questions and concerns, let me know yours in the comments below.