Orlando City is now firmly in phase 2 of its Major League Soccer existence. The Lions enter their fourth season on the hunt for a new captain and that elusive taste of postseason competition.
Head coach: Jason Kreis
2017 finish: 10-15-9, 39 points; No. 10 East
The Lions sprinted to a 6-1 start before grinding to a slow crawl to another playoff-less finish. By the end of the year, fans were calling for Kreis’ head and though the front office placed their support firmly behind him, general manager Niki Budalic and CEO Alex Leitao promised big changes for 2018.
Biggest change: Kaká retired. That means no more $7.167 million salary being paid, an open international spot on the roster and room for a new designated player.
Kreis is entering his second full year as the Lions’ coach and will look to completely put his stamp on the squad. Anything less than playoffs will be devastating for the club and its supporters.
Season opener: March 3 vs. D.C. United, 7:30 p.m.
There are constant rumors swirling overseas and it’s more than likely a few international players are on their way. So while Orlando City’s roster rehab got off to a slow start, it’s picked up in the new year. One trade in particular dominated headlines, when the Lions nabbed former New York Red Bulls captain Sacha Kljestan. To get the league’s leader in assists, they had to let go of Colombian forward Carlos Rivas and homegrown defender Tommy Redding, who both had been with the club since its inaugural MLS year.
Signings – LB Mohamed El-Munir, F Stéfano Pinho; GK Adam Grinwis
Trades – Acquired M Sacha Kljestan and $150,000 allocation money from New York Red Bulls in exchange for CB Tommy Redding and F Carlos Rivas; Acquired M Jose Villarreal from L.A. Galaxy in exchange for third-round pick in 2019 MLS SuperDraft; Acquired D RJ Allen from NYCFC in exchange for third-round pick in 2018 MLS SuperDraft;
Re-signed – F Dom Dwyer; M Dillon Powers
Contract option declined – GK Josh Saunders; CB Seb Hines, CB Conor Donovan; M Antonio Nocerino, M Servando Carrasco; M/F Giles Barnes, F Hadji Barry;
Contract expired – RB Kevin Alston, D/M Devron García, M Kaká; D Leo Pereira (loan)
Other – GK Mason Stajduhar, 19, placed on season-ending injury list as he begins treatment for bone cancer.