Orlando City Soccer starts 2018 against DC United

Orlando City Soccer Club 1 New York City Football Club 1, Orlando Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Florida - 8th March 2015 (Photographer: Nigel G. Worrall)

Today marks the opening day of the 2018 Major League Soccer season. For us at Florida Leisure, we have always looked forward to a new season beginning and having covered Orlando City Soccer since its inception in 2011, today is no exception.

There is a difference though. Today we are unable to cover the game from our usual position close to the action. There will be no more game photographs as the club has decided not to credential us to do so. It’s a blow, a disappointment and something of a mystery to be perfectly honest.

Over the years we have been the publication that has covered the team consistently in both home and away games and we’ve always tried to be honest in our approach as to how the team is performing. When they’ve been good, we’ve said so and when they’ve been bad, we’ve also said so.

Behind the scenes we’ve also not been frightened to ask the hard questions of the management team both running the team and the management of the club operation. Perhaps that’s the reason why credentials aren’t on offer to us this season?

So with that said, we’ll continue our best to bring you coverage and to share our thoughts on how the team and club is progressing.

Atlanta United 3 Orlando City Soccer 3, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta - 16th September2017 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

Orlando City has had an extremely busy this close season. Over twenty players have been replaced since Head Coach Jason Keis (pictured above) took charge in 2016 and today we get to find out how well the club has done with its recruitment.

The new squad was announced by the club in a press release yesterday…yes, we still get those… and it really is a fresh new look that Kreis has brought into his squad.

The Lions squad contains four goalkeepers, nine defenders, twelve midfielders and four forwards for the new season that opens with a fixture against DC United tonight. City’s Designated Players include USMNT forward Dom Dwyer, two-time reigning MLS assist king Sacha Kljestan and 19-year-old Paraguayan Josué Colmán as a Young Designated Player. On Wednesday it was announced that defender Jonathan Spector would be the second Captain in the clubs MLS history.

In defence, City’s off-season acquisitions include long-time French Ligue 1 and German Bundesliga center back Lamine Sané, Egyptian-American defender Amro Tarek and Libya national team left back Mohamed El-Munir. City’s new goalkeeper is 2015 USL Cup champion Adam Grinwis.

In addition to Colmán and Kljestan, the Lions’ new midfielders include 2017 ACC Midfielder of the Year and Homegrown Cam Lindley, 2013 MLS Cup champion Oriol “Uri” Rosell and two-time MLS Cup champion and Homegrown Jose Villarreal.

Upfront, City features Iraqi international Justin Meram, reigning NCAA D-1 assist leader Chris Mueller and two-time NASL Golden Boot winner Stéfano Pinho.

Additionally, the team announced the signing of defender Chris Schuler to a two-year contract with a club option included as a Free Agent. Schuler, who played eight years at Real Salt Lake, including four under Jason Kreis, has been on trial with City since preseason began.

Key: 1 – International, 2 – Designated Player, 3 – Young Designated Player, 4 – Homegrown, 5 – Generation adidas

GOALKEEPERS (4): Joe Bendik, Earl Edwards, Jr., Adam Grinwis, Mason Stajduhar4

DEFENDERS (9): RJ Allen, Mohamed El-Munir1, PC1, Lamine Sané1, Chris Schuler, Jonathan Spector, Scott Sutter, Amro Tarek, Donny Toia

MIDFIELDERS (12): Josué Colmán1,3, Pierre Da Silva, Cristian Higuita, Will Johnson, Sacha Kljestan2, Richie Laryea1,5, Cam Lindley4, Dillon Powers, Tony Rocha, Oriol Rosell1, Jose Villarreal4, Yoshimar Yotún1

FORWARDS (4): Dom Dwyer2, Justin Meram, Chris Mueller, Stéfano Pinho

Today’s game kicks off at 7.30pm at Orlando City Stadium and unfortunately, several of the players named above will be missing due to suspension, injury or simply not being match fit as the season starts. Of the new players, Josué Colmán (thigh injury) and Oriol Rosell (fitness) will definitely be out while Lamine Sané is a maybe. Sacha Kljestan will serve the first of a two-game suspension carried over from last season while Pierre Da Silva is out for three games after being fined an undisclosed amount by MLS for use of offensive language during a preseason scrimmage against Philadelphia Union. Also missing the season opener are striker Dom Dwyer as he continues to struggle with a long term quadriceps injury and midfielder Dillon Powers who continues to recover from an ankle injury.

The target for the club as it begins the new campaign is to win a place in the MLS Play Off’s at season end. This is something it has failed to achieve in any of the seasons it has been an MLS team. It’s going to be a tough ask considering the club had its worst ever finish last season but the new injection of blood has raised the optimism levels among fans and now it is time for the players and management to deliver.

Welcome to the 2018 MLS Season… may the fun begin!


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