After drawing its most recent preseason match against USL Championship team Miami FC, Orlando City’s preseason record stands at 0-2-2, with another contest against FC Cincinnati set to take place today. Obviously being winless in preseason with only two more tune-up games before the start of the regular season isn’t ideal, but how worried should we all be about the record that OCSC has posted so far during preseason? The short answer — not all that concerned. As for why that is, let’s dive into the long answer.
To begin with, it’s preseason. It’s hard to draw too many conclusions when we’ve only been able to see two out of the four games, and neither of those two match-ups featured a fully first-choice lineup (more on that later). A small sample size of matches means we shouldn’t immediately wring our hands over some results that haven’t been the most inspiring. Plus, the two losses the Lions have suffered were fairly competitive affairs, with one goal being the difference in each game. The five goals conceded against Minnesota obviously wasn’t great, but since then Orlando hasn’t conceded more than once.
The defensive resurgence assuages some of the worry that shipping five goals against Minnesota might have started to inspire, and while the offense has taken longer to get going, that shouldn’t really be a huge shock. Michael Citro pointed out that the departures of Chris Mueller, Daryl Dike, and Nani meant that Orlando City also lost 46% of the team’s total goals and 34% of the team’s assists from the 2021 season. That is a massive percentage of offensive production that needs to be replaced, and the two guys that the club are counting on to do a lot of that are new additions.
Not only are Facundo Torres and Ercan Kara new signings, but they also haven’t even been at at the club all that long, with both players arriving in the middle of preseason. Building chemistry on the offensive side of the field takes time, and Kara’s injury against FC Dallas certainly didn’t help in terms of giving the team time to gel with the new signings. Even so, Torres showed plenty of promise during his debut against the Colorado Rapids, and looked to be settling in nicely with his new teammates.
Lastly, though its tempting to do some gnashing of teeth over the 0-0 draw with Miami FC, don’t forget that the game was started by no less than five young players, one of whom was the team’s first-round draft pick, and another of whom is a 17-year-old who just signed a Homegrown Player contract. While a lot of presumptive starters finished out the game, it still isn’t something to get too bent out of shape about.
Of course, it would be nice if the Lions were banging goals in left and right, Kara and Torres were tearing everyone to pieces, and the defense was its normally imperious self. In a perfect world that would be the case. Ultimately though, preseason is about building fitness, getting familiarized with any new teammates, and implementing new tactics and concepts. As long as those things are happening, there isn’t too much to worry about — especially considering that the spine Orlando has built over the last few years remains mostly intact. So for now, keep the faith. There will be plenty of time to worry once the season starts!