Seven days into preseason and Orlando City SC has already played its first preseason match. As many people thought, there was a noticeable amount of rust for each player on both Orlando and opponents, D.C. United.
Many of the Lions had not played together before and were still trying to figure each other out by the time the final whistle blew. All in all, it was a good chance for the boys to get to know each other a bit more and a good chance for the Gaffer to asses his squad to see where they are right now. There's a lot to take away from this game, but I'll give you five things that really stood out for me.
1. Rafael Ramos looked pretty damn impressive.
For the short amount of time that Ramos was on the field, he was by far and away the most impressive player for Orlando City. Just like he did back in USL Pro, Ramos used his speed and ball control to really make his presence felt. There was a point in the 25th minute where Ramos flicked the ball over a defender's head a few times, which created space for him to push the ball and attack. His pace was a huge factor in the very few attacking chances that Orlando got in the first half, as well. If he can play at that level consistently, it will make the starting decision a bigger question as preseason goes on.
2. Martin Paterson is just like Corey Hertzog
Before anyone says it, no I don't mean Paterson is always offside. For those who remember Corey Hertzog from last year's USL Pro squad, he was a striker who always seemed to make his way offside and had an incredible motor. From the (very) limited time that Paterson was on the pitch, which was only 30 minutes, you could tell he had that same kind of motor. In the game, Paterson chased the ball around at full speed and forced United to clear the ball away more than a few times. Adrian Heath would constantly praise Hertzog for doing the very same thing, which is why he started many games for the Lions last year. With the way Heath had his lineup last year, we could be seeing Paterson as the starter in March.
3. Luke Boden is more than capable in his left back position
Many have speculated that Luke Boden would possibly have some trouble adjusting to the MLS game. Those same people have also speculated that Brek Shea would be the starting left back. After watching Shea play that position for the U.S. Men's National Team the other night (which, besides him scoring the opening goal, his performance was mediocre at best), Boden has a better chance at being the starter than many predicted. In his 45 minutes of play, Boden played just as he has since he joined the Lions back in 2011. He was solid, he didn't get beaten off the dribble, and he was able to push up in the attack a bit and create some chances. Of course, this is only after seven days of training, so things can only improve in his play. When Shea finishes up with the National Team, it should be an interesting month of February to see who wins out the starting job, Boden or Shea.
4. The two Colombians impressed in different ways
Carlos Rivas and Cristian Higuita both played their first minutes in Orlando City uniforms, and it was the first chance for fans to get a look at the two signings. Rivas, the goalscorer on the night, was quick and creative, and gave Orlando various chances throughout the second half. Higuita, on the other hand, played okay, but he had a bit of a problem with his temper. It seemed every time I saw a foul or collision happen, it involved him. There was even a point a few minutes into the half where Higuita and a United player got into an argument and began pushing each other. Even so, I don't really put too much into either of their performances today. It's only first impressions for me. If Rivas can continue playing the way he did last night and Higuita can calm down and be a solid defensive midfielder, then Orlando could have two very good young players for this year.
5. Orlando can't stop scoring on the Tampa Bay Rowdies
Even playing against D.C. United, Orlando found a way to score against the Rowdies. United’s trialist goalie, Diego Restrepo, who mishandled Carlos Rivas’ shot that tied the game, played last year in Tampa Bay. Restrepo only played against Orlando for 45 minutes in the second leg of the 2013 I-4 Derby, in which he let in Dom Dwyer‘s eventual game-winning goal in the 90th minute. The former Rowdies goalkeeper tore his ACL and missed the entire 2014 season before moving on in the off-season. Now, in his first game back on the field, he lets in a goal from an Orlando City player again. Tough start to the preseason for the guy.
Well, those are my five takeaway's from the game. What say you? Any opinions from the Lions first preseason game?