Assessing Orlando City’s Defense



Orlando City SC‘s roster is pretty much complete at this point of preseason. After losing out on Brazilian defender Paulo André, the Lions’ front office is now looking for another player to fill in. Judging by reports from the open practice on Saturday, Orlando is giving Ireland national team defender Sean St. Ledger a try for a week or two.

St. Ledger has spent most of his career around the English Championship with Preston North End and is now looking to make a move stateside. He already spent the past few weeks over with D.C. United, but failed to secure a contract with them.

"Sean is very much first choice at the moment," Orlando City GM Paul McDonough explained in a recent interview with mlssoccer.com, "He has the experience and the kind of ability we're looking for in the middle of the back four."

That being said, McDonough also mentioned that the Lions will also be bringing an unnamed player from the English second division, to compete for that roster spot.

"We will also be bringing over another English player from the Championship on Monday or Tuesday and giving him a full trial as well. He can play at both center back or on the right, so it's perfectly possible we could sign both of them."

This statement from McDonough is interesting, mainly due to the international roster spots available on the team. Orlando has 11 international roster spots right now and they are all in use by current players under contract.

If Orlando were to sign St. Ledger and the unknown defender, it's pretty much assured that Cyle Larin and Akeil Barrett will be going to Louisville City to begin the season, therefore opening up two spots.

If both players sign, it then raises more questions about the rest of the defense. According to McDonough, both players can play center back or right back, which might mean youngster Tyler Turner may be on the bench instead of starting. It also may mean that Brazilian center back Gustavo may not be the starter either, especially if they are impressed with St. Ledger.

Even with all of these questions swirling around the defense, there's still the biggest position question for Orlando right now on the table: does Brek Shea or Luke Boden start at left back? Boden has been fairly impressive in his performances in the three preseason games and has really proved his ability to the coaches and many members of the media.

It also doesn't help Shea's case that he hasn't been training with the team, is new to the position, and still doesn't know the Adrian Heath system well, although he did train with the Lions previously. Boden has the advantage of having played in that system and started almost every single game for the last four years for the Lions.

Heath has said a few times over the past few weeks that he has a lot of options with his team and is still assessing each position during each game. After the friendly against Toronto FC on Wednesday, Heath said, “The guys who have been with us for a long period of time, and even Lewis Neal, just drops into what he’s done before and we’re trying to get a lot of people on the same page and some are taking a bit longer to, sort of, pick up on what we’re looking for.”

Needless to say, no one has any idea of who will start for Orlando City as of right now. About the only player on the back line you can pencil in as a starter is Aurelien Collin.

In a week or two, however, coach Heath and the fans may have a much clearer idea of who we’ll see when OCSC takes on New York City FC.


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