Tomorrow afternoon Orlando City SC enters the field at the Talen Energy Stadium to play its last official match of the season against the Philadelphia Union. Regardless of what happens in Pennsylvania, the Lions will conclude another disappointing MLS campaign, missing the playoffs for the third straight year.
Although the outcome of the game will not impact Orlando’s near future, it can mean the first steps towards a more successful 2018 season. Here are three things that I would like to see in the Lions’ last match of the year:
A Brace from Dom Dwyer
Dom Dwyer will certainly be a central piece of whatever Orlando City builds for 2018. The striker was brought in exchange for a huge amount of allocation money and has lived up to the expectations so far, amassing three goals and four assists in 11 games.
Dwyer failed to find the back of the net in the last two matches and it would be promising to see him end the season with two goals on the road. It is an important moment for him to build some confidence and gain even more respect from the fans.
A Clean Sheet
Orlando City’s defense is in the bottom half of the league, having conceded 52 goals in 33 matches. It would be positive to end the season with a shutout, something the Lions managed only once in their last 14 matches.
A clean sheet would be meaningful too for goalkeeper Joe Bendik, who performed strongly throughout the season and leads the league in saves. The shot stopper definitely deserves to add a shutout to his record and a strong finish could help his case with the United States Men's National Team.
A Solid Performance from Richie Laryea
One of the areas Orlando City will most need to address in 2018 is the midfield. And one of the new pieces could already be with the Lions in the form of Richie Laryea. The Canadian play maker had a solid season with Orlando City B in the USL and earned some minutes with the Lions in MLS.
The 22-year-old played at least 19 minutes in each of the last four matches and recorded an assist against the New England Revolution. It could be a good moment to give him his first start and a good performance against the Union could be the first step in the process of turning him into a good option coming off the bench next year.