A new-look Orlando City squad took the field Monday morning for the first day of preseason training camp.
Among the new faces that took the field for the very first time in purple at Sylvan Lake Park were Paraguayan international Josué Colmán, midfielders Sacha Kljestan and Cameron Lindley and forward Stefano Pinho.
“Obviously a lot of new faces eager to be here and super excited to be a part of Orlando City Soccer Club as are all of us,” Lions coach Jason Kreis said. “So real exciting and enthusiastic day. I couldn’t be more pleased for the tempo of the session and the commitment the guys showed today.”
Forward Cyle Larin, who’s been pushing a move abroad, was not present Monday morning at the training grounds.
El-Munir expected soon
Newly acquired left back Mohamed El-Munir did not train with the Lions Monday.
The 25-year-old Libyan international encountered a delay with his visa paperwork, according to Kreis, but the coach expects him to arrive soon.
“In the case for many of the international players that we bring in, we always run into one hiccup or another with the visa process,” Kreis said Monday. “He is expected actually this afternoon. Whether or not he’ll be in training tomorrow or the next day, in the short term we expect him in any day now.”
Kreis confirmed with Pro Soccer USA El-Munir’s visa delay was not due to President Trump’s travel ban, saying the technical staff was aware during the scouting of the player the travel ban might be a situation, but after speaking to the team’s lawyers, there was no problem at all, Kreis said.
El-Munir was acquired by the Lions in December from Serbian side FK Partizan.
Kreis said it was relief to lock in Dom Dwyer for the coming years.
“We talk about all the things we had to do in the offseason. All the difficult work we had to get through, negotiations and how long these things take. … Dom falls in that category,” Kreis said. “It was a difficult negotiation and process that took us a long time. In the end, both sides are very happy. In my point of view, we wrapped up a player for multi years that we think will be a big piece moving forward.”
Dwyer, who was traded to Orlando City last summer from Sporting Kansas City, signed a new three-year deal with the Lions that was announced by the club on Jan. 3.
The striker said he’s glad the negotiations are over so he can concentrate on preparing for the 2018 season.
“It’s great. As a player you want to focus on playing,” said Dwyer. “Now I know I’m going to be here for a little while. I can just really help grow this club and hopefully have a good season.”
Orlando City keeper Joe Bendik trains on the first day of training for the team on January 22, 2018. (Jacob Langston/Orlando Sentinel)
Dwyer trained apart from the club on Monday. The forward said he suffered a right hamstring strain two days before he was called up by the U.S. men’s national team on Jan. 8.
Since then, he’s slowly been recovering.
“Dom is a player we’re looking to build up in the next two weeks,” Kreis said. “He will not be involved in the training this week. He should start to be involved in all the on-field stuff next week. We believe by the second preseason game, he should be available for that.”
Dwyer hopes his whole family finds a home with the club.
He would love to see his wife, U.S. women’s national team forward Sydney Leroux, playing for the Orlando Pride. She spent last season with FC Kansas City, a club that folded. Now she is a part of the Utah Royals, an NWSL expansion side.
“I’m hopeful for that,” Dwyer said of Leroux possibly joining the Pride. “It will be very special for me to have my family here as well. For us to all be together, I think that would be good for the club. It’s her career and it’s something that’s not really in my control, but of course I can only hope for that.”
Orlando City inked numerous players during the offseason and more might be on the way in the coming days, Kreis said.
“We’ll sign probably at least two more players, hopefully it should be in the next few days,” he said.
Former Real Salt Lake center back Chris Schuler, who was released from RSL last year, trained with Orlando City on Monday.
Kreis did not confirm or deny whether the center back will join the club in the coming days, but he hinted the Lions are looking into how he fits in with the team during training this week.
“The coaching staff has a high level of familiarity and comfort with Chris Schuler after working with him for several years at Real Salt Lake, but he’s also a player in the past two years or so, he’s had injury issues,” Kreis said. “He was released by Real Salt Lake, so we’re having him in to see what he looks like. Both from a fitness and health perspective, but how does he fit in our group.”
Orlando City roster as of Jan. 22
Goalkeeper (3): Joe Bendik, Earl Edwards Jr., Adam Grinwis.
Defenders (7): Jonathan Spector, Jose Aja, Donny Toia, Scott Sutter, Victor PC Giro, Mohamed El-Munir, RJ Allen.
Midfielders (11): Will Johnson, Cristian Higuita, Yoshimar Yotun, Jose Villarreal, Tony Rocha, Dillon Powers, Sacha Kljestan, Cameron Lindley, Richie Laryea, Pierre Da Silva, Josue Colman.
Forwards (3): Dom Dwyer, Cyle Larin, Chris Mueller, Stefano Pinho.