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2024 Season Preview: Orlando City

Big Expectations After a Great 2023 Season.

 

A year ago, I published my thoughts on the 2023 season, as Orlando City was coming off an active offseason with Luiz Muzzi and Oscar Pareja making very good decisions with shoring up the player pool. Their efforts paid off handsomely as Orlando City totaled 18 wins, 63 points, and secured the second overall seed in the postseason, the highest-ever seeding in team history. A year later, the team heads into 2024 without two starters (Antonio Carlos and Mauricio Pereyra). Will the changes in the player pool allow the Lions to prosper in 2024? Here are my thoughts on the upcoming 2024 season, with the opener on February 24 with Montreal visiting Inter&Co Stadium.


  • First, we must take a look at how Oscar Pareja uses his depth to deal with the infamous term 'fixture congestion.' OCSC opens up the season with three games in six days, with an away and home series with Calvary in the CONCACAF Champions Cup, sandwiched around the season opener against Montreal. After a normal, weekly schedule of games in March, and a very light three-games in April, the month of May will again test Pareja's player pool, with seven games between May 4 and June 1. No different than the 2023 season, depth and staying away from injuries will be keys to a successful season.

  • Similar to last year's offseason, the player pool has changed. Key players including Mauricio Pereyra and Antonio Carlos have moved on but again the front office has brought in stalwart replacements including veteran midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro and defender David Brekalo. As of this post, Luis Muriel, the Colombian national and former Atalanta forward, has not signed with Orlando City, but Muriel, once called the 'Goal Machine of Serie A', has given his intention to do so. Muriel was scouted and recruited due to Duncan McGuire's pending transfer to Blackburn, but an administrative error now sees the formidable striker back with the Lions.

  • Here is how the OCSC depth looks: Goalkeepers - Gallese, Stajduhar Defenders - Brekalo, Santos, Jansson, Freeman, Halliday, Schlegel, Smith, Thorhallsson*, Williams Midfielders - Araujo, Martins, Torres, Ojeda, Lodeiro, Cartagena, Angulo Forwards - McGuire, Muriel, Enrique, Lynn, Tsukada Note: not all available players as of February 13 are listed above. * Thorhallsson has played as a right fullback and midfielder.

  • On paper, the roster may be stronger than the 2023 version, especially with the addition of Brekalo, Lodeiro and Muriel, and the surprise about-face with McGuire. The depth looks to be solid which like all MLS teams will be tested with their schedule, the travel, and summer heat.


It looks like Luiz Muzzi and Oscar Pareja have checked most, if not all the boxes. New players, the resigning of Pedro Gallese and Robin Jansson, and the surprise addition of Duncan McGuire set Orlando City up for a promising season. There are always challenges with the schedule and inevitable injuries, as we are look forward to getting 2024 started on February 24 at Inter&Co Stadium.



Gary Levitt @gary1123 justmytake.net











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