Preseason isn’t exactly Scott Sutter’s favorite part of the MLS calendar.
The 31-year-old Orlando City SC right back, in his second season with the Lions after joining the team from Swiss Super League side BSC Young Boys, didn’t go through the MLS preseason last year – he joined the team two days before the start of the 2017 MLS season.
Orlando City, however, needs the time before the start of the season. With new faces practically all over the field, Sutter said the group is working on its chemistry ahead of its regular season debut against D.C. United on March 3.
He likes what he’s seeing so far.
“I’ve got a really, really good feeling about the team this year,” he said. “The depth is definitely key for us to be able to compete in this league. We’ve got some really good guys in. We’ve got a couple of youngsters in that are willing to learn, that are willing to put in the effort to get better and improve.
“It’s been good. We’re all buzzing for the start of the season. Preseason’s hard at times. Not my favorite part of the season, going to be completely honest with you.”
Orlando City has added 12 new players since Dec. 18, most recently Egyptian center back Amro Tarek.
It’s strange for Sutter, with 14 players from last season’s team no longer around.
“I’ve never really been a part of a squad that has had this much turnover, with players that left and players that [have] come, so it’s been interesting, but things have been going really well,” Sutter said.
“We see that every day in training. Everyone’s really putting the work in. If someone drops, it’s quick for someone else to get them back up again and say, ‘Come on, work a bit harder, mate.’ It’s good.”
Preseason also allows for some competition at different positions. Sutter started 30 games at right back last season, but he’s being challenged by RJ Allen, who joined the team from NYCFC via trade in December.
Sutter said he’s seen competition at nearly every position.
“RJ’s come in and done really well,” Sutter said. “But just everyone, you know? We’ve got a really good depth of squad this year, which maybe lacked last year especially with a lot of games we had, the traveling here, you kind of need to kind of need to rotate, I think that’s kind of key.”
Allen said he’s enjoying the competition with Sutter, but like the other new players on the team, he’s working on adjusting to life in Orlando.
“Relationships are building,” Allen said. “You kind of learn guys’ tendencies on the field and getting to know guys off the field as well. We’re looking forward to some team-building stuff we have coming up this week. Just getting to know each other, I think that’s the most important thing.”
Head coach Jason Kreis on Saturday mentioned he worked his players particularly hard last week, which led to a somewhat sluggish performance early during the team’s training scrimmage against Minnesota United FC.
Sutter said players have bought in to the tough practices – Kreis said the team was “overloaded” last week before its scrimmage with the Loons.
“I think he’s aware of the ability we have on the team, now more so than I think ever before, or since last season.” Sutter said of Kreis. “He’s working us hard. He knows exactly what he wants. I think he’s really trying to get his style of soccer across and everyone’s accepting that and listening and trying to work on it.”
Allen, who played for Kreis at NYCFC in 2015, said Kreis’ style has not changed much over the years.
“It’s the same Kreis,” Allen said. “It’s nice to have a familiarity with the staff coming into preseason. Know their expectations for me as a player and for the group. Obviously, with group success comes individual success.”
Striker Dom Dwyer (hamstring) was a full participant in Monday’s training session. He didn’t participate in Saturday’s training scrimmage against Minnesota United FC, but Kreis said he expected Dwyer to be ready for the team’s Wednesday scrimmage against Philadelphia.
Midfielder Cam Lindley, who on Saturday suffered a hamstring injury according to Kreis, should be back at training by Tuesday, a team official said.
Designated player Josué Colmán is expected to miss at least “a couple weeks” with a quad contusion, Kreis said. The Paraguayan midfielder suffered the injury during the team’s scrimmage against Jacksonville. Kreis said the injury is more “severe” than he originally thought.
Fields waived by Pride
Former Florida State forward Jamia Fields has been waived by the Orlando Pride.
Fields, the No. 5 pick in the 2015 NWSL expansion draft, appeared in 28 games for Orlando during two seasons. The forward, called a “consummate professional” by coach Tom Sermanni, picked up two assists in those appearances.