Orlando City 2019 Season Preview: Who The Hell Knows

    The 2019 Orlando City season is upon us and honestly who knows how this upcoming season is going to turn out. With that said, this might be the most excited I’ve been for an Orlando City season since the first year in MLS. Is it the return of the infamous ILF tailgate? Is it the Nani signing? Is it the injection of youth into the squad? I’ll give you some of my thoughts on the upcoming Lions season.

1.) Nani

The highlight of the OCSC offseason is clearly Nani, the best Portuguese player in the World currently (don’t @ me). At the age of 32, Nani still has a ton to offer after a successful campaign with Sporting CP that saw Nani tally 8 goals in 20+ appearances and take home the Taça da Liga just prior to his transfer to Orlando City. Reports stated on Wednesday that Nani would be available for Saturday, I’d be shocked if he didn’t play at least 50-60 minutes after already being match fit from playing in Portugal. Nani brings an element to the squad that I don’t think we’ve had in recent memory. Able to beat his man, cross into the box or score from literally anywhere on the pitch. As someone who had watched Nani during his tenure at Manchester United, I can tell you that there will be days that Nani is the most frustrating player on the field. Consistency issues were a staple for Nani in England but on his day he’s an absolute joy to watch. I speak for everyone when I say I’m insanely excited for Nani’s debut and what he brings to the squad for the foreseeable future.

2.) The Goalkeeper Carousel

You know the Spider-Man meme of the two Spider-Man’s pointing at each other, that is quite literally the Goalkeeper position for Orlando City. None of the GK’s stick out for me in the slightest and that could be an issue as the season goes on. I was absolutely wrong about Bendik when he first arrived, though his fall from grace last season wasn’t pretty to watch. Brian Rowe has the most MLS experience it seems so he’ll probably get the nod between the posts but I’d personally like to see what Adam Grinwis could do as he showed some flashes during his 2018 season. What happens at the goalkeeper position this season remains to be seen. With one of the worst defenses in the league last season, goalkeeper might need to be a position that management addresses in the next transfer window.

3.) Youth Movement?

Perhaps the most exciting thing you first notice when looking at the squad is the amount of talented young players there are under the age of 23. Currently Orlando City has 11 players that are 23 and under which leads me to believe that Orlando City finally might be investing in young high-ceiling guys. Names that are regularly in the squad such as Mueller and Colmán are joined by Danilo Acosta and Jhegson Mendez who I expect to both play a decent amount of minutes this season. Not to mention the likes of 2018 #1 overall pick João Moutinho and Brazilian right back Ruan. Orlando City finally seems to be getting their act together in regards to investing in youth and while it may not pay off right away, we’ll see if the investment pays off in the next few years.

4.) JOC on the hot seat?

No, I don’t think on the 1st of March that James O’Connor is on the hot seat (It was just an interesting headline). While winning only 2 of his first 18 matches in charge of Orlando City left much to be desired. The lack of quality in the squad and the morale was so low at that point in the 2018 season that even more experienced managers probably wouldn’t have done much better, unless your name is Ole Gunnar Solskjær. Unless City absolutely shits the bed the first 15-20 matches of the season, JOC should survive this season playoffs or not. What happens after that is really up in the air but continuing to fire coaches mid season is never a good look.

5.) 2019 season predictions

As far as the upcoming Orlando City campaign  goes, who honestly knows. With literally no expectations this season, this year could go in a number of different ways. A lot of so called journalists have written Orlando City off before the team even kicks a ball which makes this season even that more interesting. I’m going to take the optimistic route and say that OCSC sneaks into the playoffs but honestly if they don’t and they at least play attractive football and the younger guys continue to develop their game I’ll be happy.

This has been my 2019 Orlando City season preview. I hope to bring you all more content on a regular basis during the 2019 Lions campaign.


Did you miss us?

Honey, I’m home.


After a 484 day hiatus, the ILF blog is back with another banger. So you might be asking yourself, what have you guys been doing this whole time? The real question my friends is what haven’t we been doing? Myself and fellow ILF staff writer Angel Ortiz just returned from the Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl parade. Wasn’t that parade like 6 months ago you ask? You’re god damn right it was 6 months ago and we’ve been roaming drunk up and down Broad street ever since. ILF senior editor Zach Gamble has also been keeping quite busy since our last post. Zach spent sometime in the mountains of Tennessee and came back to Florida Woke af (don’t ask me). Nowadays, Mr. Gamble finds himself fighting against the logging industry in Madagascar and sticking up for women’s rights in Tuvalu. Fellow ILF blog contributor Bo Brown after a booze filled night out at Top Golf decided to quit his day job, move to Columbus, OH and pursue a career in professional golfing, needless to say we wish him well.


Now that we got that out of the way, how has Orlando City been doing? Not great, Bob. Since our last post, Orlando City has posted a 12-11-24 record, finished 11 points outside of the playoffs last season, fired Jason Kreis and currently has the most losses in the MLS right now. So in a way you could say Orlando City has defied expectations, if those expectations were to be a dumpster fire. On paper this season was supposed to be different. A top South American prospect in Colman? Yup. MLS veterans in Kjestan and Meram? Check and check. Defenders with big league experience in Sane and Tarek? Oh yeah baby. A full offseason of Dom Dwyer and Yoshi Yotun? Talk dirty to me. Everything started off peachy, this looked like the year we might actually make the playoffs that have eluded Orlando City every season in MLS. We started off the season with a solid 6-1-2 record and coming off a 6 match win streak we were feeling good and then May 13th came. Atlanta United were coming to our house AND we were red hot, surely this was going to be the time we beat those clowns from the A. Boy were we wrong. Not only did Orlando City go on to lose that game but they went on to lose the next 11 out of 12 matches in the saddest summer in Orlando City history.


Enter James O’Connor, Orlando City’s prodigal son. A manager who understands supporter culture and demands 110% from his players. Not a guy who wears jeans shorts to the bar and orders warm milk (cc: Jason Kreis). JOC’s tenure as OCSC gaffer has started off rocky but it never was going to be easy to turn around this team after a horrible few months. Playoffs? Ha don’t make me laugh. Bottom of the table? Probably.

Draft Day: Orlando City edition

It's the morning of the NFL draft and I'm hyped up on Wawa coffee. As I'm riding the Sunrail to work, I thought what better way to kill the time than mocking up a draft board for Orlando City. 


1st round: Cyle Larin, ST, Connecticut

This was a tough decision and our committee stayed up through the night going over tape and numbers. We wanted to go defense in the 1st round as defense wins championships but Cyle Larin was simply too good of a prospect to pass up on. Good football IQ, knows how to score and can score for fun at times, always in the right place at the right time. Some might question this kids work ethic but at the end of the day, we drafted him to score goals. 

2nd round: Joe Bendik, GK,  Clemson

We were lucky that Joe Bendik fell to us honestly as we had him high on our draft board. Bendik will be the center piece of our defense and we hope to build around him in the upcoming rounds. Good hands and really bosses his area of the field, his 40 time was not impressive at the Combine which may have turned away some teams but we like him anyways. 

3rd round:Jonathan Spector, CB, St. Viator HS 

As attacking options started flying off the board, we almost went with an attacking threat here to compliment Larin but we decided to stick with building a line in front of Bendik. Many younger CB's were taken at this point in the draft but we weren't turned away by Spector's age. A great footballing IQ, Spector reads the game well and is not afraid of a tough challenge. Maybe not the fastest guy in the draft at his position but paired with a quicker CB will allow him to flourish. 

4th round: Will Johnson, CDM/RB, Canada

An absolute steal in the 4th round. Will Johnson fell this late in the draft due to an average combine but was projected to go late 1st to early 2nd round in some mock drafts. Johnson has a high motor and is a do it all for you kind of player and typically those players combines are never that impressive. Capable of playing all over the field, Johnson is a great locker room presence and is a necessity for any team with championship ambitions. 

5th round: Carlos Rivas, Winger, Colombia

We decided to shift gears and work on the offensive side of the ball. Viewed as having one of the highest ceilings in this draft, Rivas was available in the 5th round due to some questions about his consistency and off field issues at a Junior Colombian Burger establishment back in 2015. Rivas has the upside however that could make him an absolute gem in 5th round. 

6th round: Cristian Higuita, CDM, Colombia

After getting a winger in the 5th, the obvious choice was to get another attacking threat but we really liked the value of Higuita in the 6th round. A very scrappy player with a lot of upside, Higuita was only available this late in the draft due to his tendency of being card friendly. He is a gifted midfielder and with the right coaching can be one of the better defensive mid's in the MLS.

7th round: Matias Perez Garcia, Attacking Mid, Argentina

I tell you what, I really like this guy. Not blessed with all the measurements you look for in a professional athlete but this guy knows how to play the game. Getting MPG in the last round of the draft was a blessing and we think he can be an important part of our side.


This concludes the 2017 Orlando City draft, we'll see you again next year!

Vamos Orlando!  



Orlando City 4 - LA Galaxy 0: Where Are They Now?

Almost two years ago the LA Galaxy rolled into town as the 2014 MLS champions. I remembered this day well surprisingly as I had started drinking early in the day for the EPL matches and a few of my mates had birthday's that weekend. We had lost 3 out of last 4 matches going into the Galaxy match and hadn't won a home match that season so many of us expected the worst. What would end up happening however was something we'd all remember for a long long time.

So almost two years later, where are they now?

Tally Hall:
A fan favorite during the 2015 Orlando City season, Tally went from saving our butts throughout the course of the season to kicking butts all around Orlando as part of the Orlando Police Department. When he's not fighting crime, he can be seen hanging outside Valhalla Bakery with a Churro doughnut in hand.

Rafael Ramos:

Still an Orlando City player, Ramos has yet to fulfill his potential at right back. Injuries and red cards have derailed the once promising player from Benfica. Though still only 22, Ramos needs to prove he can stay healthy and worry less about taking selfies at Sea World.

Seb Hines:

Easily one of the most scrutinized players Orlando City has had in the last few years. A prime target for memes and trolls on Twitter with Kermit the Frog as their avatar, Seb Hines has since been replaced by the likes of Spector, Aja and Redding. I have to admit, I actually forgot he was still an Orlando City player.

Sean St. Ledger:

Sorry I got to do it, LOL. Sean St. Ledger's stay in Orlando was short lived and I honestly have no idea what he's doing nowadays nor do I really care to Google it. After starting against the Galaxy, St. Ledger lasted roughly two more months with Orlando City before not making the flight back from New York after a 5-3 defeat against NYCFC. 

Luke Boden:

Oh Luke, why? A fan favorite for many years going back to the USL days. Bodz was released after the 2016 Orlando City season as he struggled to keep up with the pace of the MLS. He unfortunately went on to sign for some shitty club, has changed barbers and now has a crappy hairdo. 

Cristian Higuita:

The Colombian midfielder is still around and a vital part of Jason Kreis's squad. Do I expect him to be here for another two years? Probably not. Higuita has a fairly high ceiling and if he can work on his temper and avoiding cards, we could see him part ways with Orlando City in the not so distant future.

Darwin Ceren:

After the match was already locked up, Ceren decided to add on to the goal tally with the 4th and final goal of the stomping. Since then Ceren was traded for Matias Perez Garcia who has been an absolute beast since coming to Orlando and getting regular minutes. One of the better transactions in Orlando City history I'd say. 

Eric Avila:

Avila scored 1 of the 4 goals on this day and since then his career has went down the drain and by that I mean he plays for Tampa nowadays. 


Currently recovering from an injury suffered on the first match of the 2017 season, Kaka has had numerous stints on the injury list since that day in 2015. Kaka however did provide one of the more memorable moments in Orlando City MLS history when he scored a 56th minute penalty kick and ran to the bench to collect a Kevin Molino jersey who was injured two weeks prior. It was nice sign of respect for a player he'd only befriended a few months prior.

Brek Shea:

Brek never lived up to the hype during his days in Orlando. Besides schooling a NYCFC player on opening day in 2015 and a rocket goal in 2016 against Portland, Brek didn't do a whole lot. Before the 2017 season, Shea was traded to Vancouver in exchange for Giles Barnes who in his short time in Orlando has become a fan favorite for his hustle and heart. Something Brek Shea never seemed to have. 

Cyle Larin:

Dat Guy produced the 2nd goal of the match and would later go on to break the MLS Rookie Goal Record. While frustrating at times when he seems disinterested, no one can debate that he has an eye for goal. So far in 2017 he has scored 3 goals in 4 matches and has been a very important part of the attack for Orlando City. Though it's not a given that Larin is here in the long run, we can only hope he keeps banging in the goals. 




Orlando City v. NYRB: Match Recap

Your #1 most trusted Orlando City blog is back with another banger bringing you a recap of Orlando City's win over that team named after a subpar energy drink.  


Playoffs? Playoffs?! 

Yes this was only the fourth match of the season but the Lions are roughly a quarter of the way to the point tally (41) they achieved in 2016 in which they missed the playoffs by 1 point. There are still plenty of matches to be played but with the game in hand against New England in the fall, Kaka returning in the next month or so this team needs to have their eyes set on playoffs and nothing else. Plus I just like saying "Playoffs? Playoffs?" in my best Jim Mora voice. 

Spectors Back Pocket: 

Many are already calling him our best signing of the season and while I personally would give that to Will Johnson, I can't doubt how brilliant Jonathan Spector has been for us in his short time in Orlando. Guys like Kaka, Rivas and Barnes will get you on your feet but Spector is the type of player you'd let your daughter go on a date with and have home by 9. The man literally clears everything in the box, if an asteroid was plummeting to Earth I'd feel confident that Spector would clear it. The best part about Spector is that he's made everyone on his line seemably better. Guys like Jose Aja and Tommy Redding have looked class when paired with him and I'm sure Bendik will be sending him a nice Christmas card later this year.

Rivas Island: 

Frustrating at times? Yes. Capable of moments of brilliance? Hell yes. During warm ups Rivas was seen launching balls 20 stories high and all the way to Orange Avenue but once the match kicked off Rivas put on a wonderful display of skill that had many in the stadium drooling and European clubs ready to open their pocketbooks. There's days when Rivas is on his game and he's the most talented player on the pitch and there's also days when he's the most frustrating player and you want to punch yourself in the face. Turning 23 later this week, Rivas still has time to work on his shot and when that day comes watch out, boys and girls.

New Faces: 

Six Lions players were involved in the match yesterday that weren't here at the end of the 2016 season. This team is quickly being molded to Jason Kreis's vision and early results are proving that. Toia has thrived at left back, a position that's been a revolving door the past two seasons. Spector and Will Johnson have provided coverage for Bendik that he's long deserved. Early showings from Scott Sutter and Luis Gil are good, while Giles Barnes has brought a new energy and passion to the attack that Orlando City has needed. Again, we're only 4 matches into the season and there's still a high possibility that the shit hits the fan in the upcoming summer months but there's definitely a different feeling about this squad.

Next Up:

The LA Galaxy roll into town next Saturday for a sold out showdown in Orlando. Last time LA came to town, we opened a can of whoop ass with a 4-0 victory at the Citrus Bowl in 2015. Losing 3 of their first 5 matches sounds nice and all but clubs in the past have loved coming to Orlando in bad form and turning up against us. Things feel different in Orlando nowadays and my gut tells me we can add another 3 points to our tally on Saturday.


Vamos Orlando!