As one of the few veteran players retained by Orlando City after a thorough roster rebuild, center back Jonathan Spector has an understanding of the club that comes from experience.
He knows the expectations of head coach Jason Kreis. He knows the fan base. And he’s someone who understands the culture Kreis is trying to build.
“It’s not just been me, personally,” Spector said. “It’s been the entire group.”
He added, “There’s a number of us who talked after the season, during the offseason, about what we want this team to look like day-in and day-out and how we want to achieve that. My role is to continue to lead by example in that sense.”
This season, Spector faces a new challenge, though it’s one he’s fully accepted. The 31-year-old defender on Wednesday was named Orlando City’s captain.
Spector made 25 MLS appearances for Orlando City in 2017 and scored one goal. He’ll be an anchor for a back line that will feature plenty of new faces this season.
The Lions open their regular season on Saturday against D.C. United.
“The great thing about this team is there’s a lot of natural leaders within the group,” Spector said. “We all kind of lead in different ways and I certainly expect that throughout the season.
“Like I said, the great thing about this team who might lead by example, with their voice, in various ways. I think that will be important for us going for us.”
Kreis said there are a host of reasons Spector was named captain. He mentioned Spector has been a very active member of a group of six players recognized as team leaders.
“Jonathan – with his experience, with his age, with the position he plays – I think he’s suited to organize the players in front of him,” Kreis said. “To coach on the field as well as to lead by example and show the younger players what it takes to be a top, top professional with all of the international experience he’s had up to this date.”
Spector echoed his coach.
“First and foremost, leading by example,” he said of his approach to leadership. “I think I’ve shown that throughout my career that I’ve had. As well, I think I can get behind guys, support guys in their role, whatever it might be in this team.”
Spector said he’s never been named captain before, but he’s always tried to be involved with his clubs’ leadership groups.
He said there’s plenty of early chemistry developing on this mostly-new squad. He said he’s looking to see “togetherness” in this season’s club.
“That’s not something that happens by chance,” he said. “That takes a lot of work. We’ve had a number of people, both on the team and on the staff, who have contributed to that.”
Five players to miss opener
Kries confirmed a group of five players will miss the season opener.
Star striker Dom Dwyer (quad strain), attacking midfielder Josué Colmán (quad contusion) and midfielder Dillon Powers (ankle), holding midfielder Uri Rosell (fitness) are all unavailable for Saturday’s game against D.C. United due to injuries.
“There are some players, and I think we should be clear on this so that we’re not trying to be seen as deceiving anybody,” he said.
Midfielder Sacha Kljestan will also miss the opener as he serves the first game of a two-game suspension.
Kreis said center back Lamine Sané, who was signed from Bundesliga side SV Weder Bremen on Feb. 20, could be available for the opener.