Major League Soccer is back! And with it, our Three Questions column, which we’re restyled as The Inside Look. In this column, we reach out to other SB Nation sites to get an inside look at whichever team Real Salt Lake is facing.
This week we spoke to Ben Miller, who writes for The Mane Land, to get an idea of what we can expect from Orlando City SC.
What are the major moves this offseason for Orlando City SC? Do you expect those changes to give the team a good shot at the playoffs? Who are you most excited to watch play on this team?
The biggest would be the signings of Pedro Gallese, and Junior Urso. Gallese is the starting goalkeeper for the Peruvian national team, has over 60 caps for his country, and played all three games at the 2018 World Cup. While Brian Rowe did a good job as the starter last year, Gallese should just bring an uptick in quality that should help shore up the back line. Urso is a box to box midfielder who should give the Lions the kind of energetic engine in midfield that the team needs. While Orlando have had hard-running players in the past, Urso should again be a step up in quality. Personally though, I think this team is still lacking some of the attacking pieces that it needs to finally make the playoffs; I expect creating chances to be a bit of a struggle. I’m very excited to watch Gallese do his thing, I wouldn’t be surprised if he emerges as one of the top keepers in the league by the end of the season.
A few former RSL guys left the team in Will Johnson and Danny Acosta this offseason. How will they be remembered and why did they part ways with the club?
For the most part Johnson will be remembered very fondly, I know I was sad to see him go. He was the hard-running player I mentioned earlier - a guy who ran his butt off for the entire 90 minutes and always did his utmost to be first to every single ball. Acosta unfortunately wasn’t able to make much of an impression during his time in Orlando. He only played 670 minutes in the league last year and ultimately his departure was down to him not being a good fit for the team. Johnson wasn’t brought back because he made just under $500,000 last year and he’s 33. His de facto replacement in Urso is three years younger and a bit more versatile than the Canadian was.
Since Nani will miss this game due to suspension and Dom Dwyer is dealing with an injury, where will the goals come from for Orlando in this game? Who steps in to replace those key attackers?
Tesho Akindele knocked in 10 goals last year and has been reunited with his old FC Dallas manager in Oscar Pareja. He’ll likely start up top and will have better creators around him than he did last year. Other good bets would be Benji Michel and Chris Mueller. Michel is a second year player who many are expecting to continue to develop well, and Mueller is a live wire who tends to have success coming on in the second half and running at tired defenders. Any of those three would be decent bets to show up on the scoresheet.
Why will Orlando win this game? What does RSL need to be concerned about? Who do you think will start for Orlando?
If Orlando wins this game it’ll be because the team stays disciplined and organized, limits RSL’s chances at goal, and makes the most of any chances that are created on the offensive end. Probably the biggest problem last year was finishing off chances, and that’s something that the Lions need to fix straight away. RSL should keep an eye on the fullbacks; Ruan and Joao Moutinho are both threats from out wide - Ruan because of his speed and 1v1 ability and Moutinho because of his crossing ability. Ruan in particular has the ability to change games from the right back position, so he’s definitely someone to watch.I see the starting lineup being:Pedro Gallese; Joao Moutinho, Antonio Carlos, Robin Jansson, Ruan; Sebas Mendez, Uri Rosell, Junior Urso; Benji Michel, Tesho Akindele, Mauricio Pereyra.
You can read our responses to Ben’s questions at The Mane Land.