Three Reasons the Lions’ Best Defense May Be Their Offense in 2023



As the preseason trots along and the start of the MLS season inches closer, it is only natural to think about the type of team we will see take the field in just a few short weeks. If you have been following team news, it won’t come as a surprise that the team has bolstered its attack this off-season by adding a new Designated Player in Martin Ojeda.

On the defensive side of the field, some questions about depth and fit seem likely to carry over into the start of the season until players can be evaluated in real time. Let’s take a look at three reasons why a strong offense might be the best defense heading into the 2023 season.

Experience Could Yield Early Rewards

Heading into last season, both new Designated Players — Facundo Torres and Ercan Kara — had logged a giant goose egg of minutes in Major League Soccer. Say what you want about MLS, but coming into both a new league and a new country and squad requires an acclimation period. As the season progressed, Torres especially blossomed into the type of young star that the preseason hype had promised. Meanwhile, Kara found a way to lead Orlando City in goals (11) while battling some minor knocks both in preseason and during the 2022 campaign, which caused him to miss important time on the training ground and with teammates. For those who still have their reservations regarding Kara’s fit with the team, take a look back at his Season in Review breakdown by our Michael Citro and picture what a healthy and well-adjusted striker could mean for the start of the season. Fast forward a year and it is safe to say that the acclimation period is over and expectations for the duo to start the season finding the back of the net early and often seem to be perfectly attainable.

Opponents Can’t Score Without Possession

It seems at an early glance that it will be in the best interest of the squad to eat up possession throughout matches as the defense builds cohesion and chemistry. The starting midfield that Orlando City seems prepared to roll out will likely contain proven commodities and youthful new faces. Orlando City only held the overall advantage in possession in 41% of its matches during the 2022 MLS regular season. With an improved midfield and depth questions still on the back line, it would not be a shock to see this statistic improve and to see the Lions finish more games with an advantage in the possession department. Possession doesn’t necessarily win matches but it does limit the opponent’s chances.

Question Marks on Defense

The final reason why focusing on scoring more than the guys in different jerseys may prove to be the team’s best defense is due to the questions that surround the back line of the team heading into the season. Gone are both starting fullbacks. Ruan was traded to D.C. United prior to the draft and Joao Moutinho left Orlando City for Serie A side Spezia after being out of contract this off-season. Starting center back Robin Jansson is coming off of foot surgery to heal a stress fracture in his navicular bone, and his counterpart, Antonio Carlos, also missed significant time last season due to injury. When healthy, Jansson and Carlos form one of the best center back duos in MLS, but the lack of depth behind them (apart from Rodrigo Schlegel) and relatively unknown commodities on the outside of the back line mean that an area that has been a strength for Orlando City in years past might be their weakest point to start the season.

What do you think, Mane Landers? Should the Lions simply commit to scoring more than whoever they are playing? Will playing with purpose and possession be the key to limiting scoring opportunities for the opposition, while at the same time putting the team’s marquee players in the best possible positions to find the back of the net? As always, let us know in the comments below and vamos Orlando!


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