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. 

Kaka:

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. 

 

VAMOS ORLANDO!

 

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! 

 



 

 

 

Orlando City v. Philadelphia: Match Recap

THREE FUCKING POINTS BABY!

I'm loaded up on Cafe Bustelo and still pumped up from last night so this write up is going to be fun. What a match from the Lions last night, Philly was always going to be a tough one with our track record with that club but damn Orlando has a different swagger these days.

Man Crush Monday - Giles Barnes: I think we've got ourselves a hell of a player on our hands. On a day that Brek Shea was shown red in Vancouver, Giles Barnes was god damn brilliant in Orlando. Big GB showed off his pace, strength, hustle and just overall ability to boss a match. Larin for obvious reasons will get the headlines for his brace but it was Barnes who really impressed the crowd. Barnes in two matches has shown more passion than Brek ever showed in his two seasons in Orlando and that's all we ever ask for. I need to also address the clear elephant in the room, his hair. This dudes hair is 10/10 for real.

Dat Guy Larin: 3 goals in 2 matches? Dat Guy is off and running in 2017. The combination of Larin and Rivas up top has done wonders for Larin's goal tally and it will inevitably pay off for Rivas too. Cyle has gotten heat in the past for being "too lazy" and rightfully so, he's a big #9 that's just his game. Now with Carlos "Usain Bolt Jr." Rivas in the mix with his pace and dribble, Larin can afford to lay off a little which will do wonders for his stamina in the late stages of matches. Keep doing your thing, homie.

MPG a real G: Nothing I mean nothing beats seeing your 5'5 midfielder going face to face with an opposing player twice his size. Orlando City should've made the trade for MPG sooner than they did because the man is simply brilliant. 

Defense? We talking about defense: I surely will jinx it by saying this but the defense has been a joy to watch the first two matches of this campaign. A 2-1 lead surely would've been squandered this time last year but it's clear that Kreis is happy with his D nowadays.... uh wut. Spector and Aja are a joy to watch, clearing anything that comes their way in the air and Toia/Johnson doing wonders on the wings. With a top keeper in Joe Bendik, this team needed a quality back line to support him and we just might have found it. 

What's Next: The downside of a new season is that there's almost always an international break right around the corner. Orlando City are off for the next two weeks and will be back in action on April 1st against Columbus Crew. In the mean time, Orlando City B kickoff their 2017 campaign away at MLS hopefuls Tampa Bay Rowdies, hahahahahahaha sorry I laughed while typing that.

Have a great day & Vamos Orlando!

 

Orlando City v. Philadelphia Union Match Preview

Your boy is back and I'm here with a match day preview for you ladies and gents! It's been awhile I'll admit, I spent the majority of the off season catching up on sleep, eating an unhealthy amount of mozzarella sticks and looking at old pictures of Lewis Neal. Anyways, the season on paper has gotten off to a perfect start. 3 points against NYCFC, a letter from Third Rail asking for an apology, smoke in the stadium, what else could you ask for? Last weekends postponement of the match against New England was a huge let down especially for those that traveled but nevertheless we'll start the 2017 season off with two home matches in a row. With that all said, I bring you my match preview for this upcoming Saturday's match between Orlando City and the Philadelphia "We really play in Chester" Union.

Injuries:

Remember when I said the season started perfect on paper? Well that's cause we're now without Kaka for 6 weeks, Carlos Rivas for an undetermined amount of time and Seb Hines for 6 weeks. Yes, Kaka will be 35 in April and his legs are basically shot at this point but the threat of Kaka on the pitch is better than not having him at all. We're probably looking at the end of April before we see our captain playing again. The Rivas injury news is a bummer because word has been going around that this could be his breakout season where he puts it all together. I never wish injury on any player or opponent so I'll simply wish Hines a speedy recovery and hope he can at least be a reliable rotational player when he returns.

Background:

I hate to say it but Orlando City has had it's struggles against the Union in the past. In their last 5 meetings, Orlando has compiled a 1-2-2 record including a loss late in the 2015 season ending OCSC's playoff chances and a late free kick by Philly last May to rob OCSC of all 3 points.

Bendik/Blake Faceoff:

It's a match up between the best goalkeeper in MLS and some guy named Andre Blake. Now that it looks like Joe might have a solid line in front of him, his numbers will show how much of a class MLS goalkeeper he really is. This time last year I gave Bendik a lot crap for silly mistakes but as the season progressed he not only owned up to his mistakes but corrected them and now will be a Lion for the foreseeable future with his new three year contract. Saturday could be a low scoring affair with two of the best goalkeepers in MLS.

Prediction:

A Saturday evening match in Orlando City's new stadium? That place is going to be next level LIT. I'm excited to see if the likes of Spector, Toia and Will Johnson can put in brilliant shifts like they did against NYCFC and if Barnes can take on the roll of filling Kaka's boots while he's out. I fully expect a close match but with Orlando City being well rested after last weekends postponement, I can see the Lions taking this one 2-1.

Vamos Orlando!