The start of the 2018 Major League Soccer season is upon us and Orlando City is coming off what many would label a disappointing 2017 campaign, which saw the Lions miss out on the postseason and finish amongst the lower tier teams in the Eastern Conference. Facing D.C. United tonight at Orlando City Stadium, the Lions are expected to bounce back from last season’s gaffe of a campaign and turn things around behind a strong core of players.

The off-season saw the retirement of Kaka, Cyle Larin leaving to play aboard, and several moves made by Orlando City’s front office. We take a quick look at some of the keys to tonight’s contest when Orlando City hosts D.C. United.

Dom Dwyer becomes the focal point

There wasn’t much doubt about the direction of whom Orlando City would be relying upon to score goals when the club acquired Dom Dwyer from Sporting KC last season. Dwyer, whom score two goals in international play during the off-season, returns as the focal point of Orlando City’s attack and is expected to do a lot of damage this season.

Revamped midfield

A lot of changes happened during the off-season, including in the midfield where Orlando City made sure to fill with some playmakers. The departure of Kaka opens the door for players like Sacha Kljestan and Dillon Powers to make plays for the Lions’ talented attacking forwards.

Slowing down United’s forwards

Orlando’s defensive end will be put up to the challenge today after a lackluster season in 2017. The Lions defenders will be tasked with stopping D.C. United forwards Darren Mattocks and Bruno Miranda, whom both are dangerous on the attacking front.

Best goalkeeper in the business? 

The argument can be made that Joe Bendik is one of the best goalkeepers in Major League Soccer, as the Orlando City keeper made around 150 saves in 2017. Behind a revamped defense, Bendik is expected to keep attacking mids and forwards scoreless.

Expect a raucous crowd in Orlando

Orlando City Stadium will be rocking tonight when the Lions welcome D.C. United into town. The Lions boast one of the best home crowds in all of Major League Soccer and attendance of over 20,000 should be expected for tonight’s contest.

About The Author

Andy Villamarzo has covered high school and youth sports for the Tampa Bay Times and The Tampa Tribune as a correspondent since 2008. He is a native of Holiday, FL, who graduated from Gulf High School and studied at St. Petersburg College. He has covered various prep, collegiate and professional athletes throughout his writing career, including Josh Johnson (Jacksonville Jaguars), Patrick Schuster (Arizona Diamondbacks) and currently writes for other publications like The Suncoast News, Friday Night Football Magazine and TopDrawerSoccer.com.

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