The 2017 Major League Soccer season was a tough one for Orlando City, as the Lions saw a drop in the Eastern Conference standings and finished in 10th place with a disappointing record at 10-15-9. This upcoming 2018 campaign, however, brings a breath of fresh air to an Orlando City club that wants to prove that last year was a fluke.
They’ll have to do it with one of the franchise’s most notable faces in former Brazilian star Kaka, who retired after the 2017 season concluded. The Lions are also facing the potential departure of forward Cyle Larin, who is looking to play overseas and has not reported to Orlando City training camp this winter.
One of the positions that Orlando City has depth at is in the midfield and attacking forwards, with Dom Dwyer headlining a talented group heading into 2018 training camp. Orlando City general manager Niki Budalic has continued to make moves to improve the team’s roster, including acquiring Justin Meram from the Columbus Crew. Meram had a solid season last year for the Crew, tallying 13 goals and seven assists in 34 games played.
“Justin is the ideal fit to round out our attacking group,” Budalic said about adding Meram. “He’s a proven contributor in our league who can both score and create goals. His one-v-one ability and versatility to operate in various roles will add another dimension to our attack.”
With Larin potentially leaving, it could help Dwyer re-emerge as the top flight goal scorer he was traded for from Sporting KC. Orlando City’s 2018 training camp brings a lot of questions that will need to be answered, including addressing the club’s defense that was a liability throughout last season. The Lions yielded 58 goals in 2017.
One area the team will not have to worry much about is at goalkeeper, as the team brings back Joe Bendik. Bendik recorded 118 saves in 2017 and was an important piece moving forward for the Lions.