Chris Schuler is finally ready to take the next step in his MLS career.
It’s a step Schuler wasn’t always certain he’d get to take. As a trialist, he worked all preseason as a center back with Orlando City, but he didn’t have a contract after Real Salt Lake declined to exercise its club option for 2018.
Orlando City put his uncertainty to rest one day before its season opener against D.C. United. The club signed Schuler as a free agent two-year deal with a club option.
The uncertainty was something Schuler thought about but tried not to dwell on.
“You can worry about a lot of things, especially in my position,” Schuler said. “But I just try to focus on what I can control. I wouldn’t say ‘worry,’ but definitely some uncertainly when you don’t have a contract, always.”
Schuler spent eight seasons with Real Salt Lake, including four with current Orlando City coach Jason Kreis.
“Some of the standards on the field, everybody’s got to work, which is cool,” Schuler said about understanding Kreis’ expectations. “That’s how you truly get better. Standards off the field, he’s got some rules the whole team abides by and I think it’s going to make everybody more successful.
“He’s made it very clear. We see 10 objectives on a Power Point screen. You should know what you’re getting into. He’s done a great job of getting us in a clear direction. Some clear things to focus on and bring to the team.”
Schuler – who at 6-foot-4 towers over most of the other members of the team – said he brings plenty of experience to the club’s center back corps.
“This is going to be my ninth season playing in MLS,” he said. “I’m the tallest guy on the team. That’s cool, bringing some air dominance. A lot of focus and communication I think are things are going to help me help improve the team.”
Lindley relishes pro opportunity
It’s no secret: MLS rookies don’t typically make massive impacts.
Midfielder Cam Lindley and forward Chris Mueller, two Orlando City players fresh out of college, are looking to break that trend. Both received rave reviews during preseason training.
Lindley has his eyes set on the team’s opener in Orlando City Stadium. He got a small taste of what a crowd inside the stadium can be like during the second annual Kids vs. Pros event.
“It’s funny, for the kids’ game, they just had the drums and we were like, ‘Wow, this is pretty loud,’” he said. “Talking to the guys, they were like, ‘Just wait.’ Chris and I are pretty excited about it. Trying to play it cool. I know as soon as I take a step out of the tunnel, it’s going to be pretty excited.”
Lindley, who as a sophomore at UNC was the 2017 ACC Midfielder of the Year, said he peppered veteran players with questions throughout the preseason.
“It’s been great. Chris and I have been very fortunate to come into a team and an organization with a great staff. Preseason’s been great. It’s been good, it’s been hard, but it’s been fun. The first six weeks of pro have been unbelievable.
“Chris and I are just playing our game. The system’s great for us. Chris and I are excited for [the season opener]. If we get a chance, we’re going to go on and be ready.”
Club partners with Fanatics
Orlando City SC on Friday officially announced sports retailer Fanatics will take over in-venue operations for fans shopping for team merchandise.
Under the deal, the Orlando City Stadium’s main team store will be renovated and supporters will get to purchase team gear from kiosks throughout the concourse, according to a news release.
Fanatics will also manage online and game-day retail for the Orlando Pride.