Orlando City

Orlando City Looks to Youthful Attackers as Playoff Push Continues

Ercan Kara’s departure leaves the Lions awfully young up top for the final push toward the postseason.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City is off this week before resuming its push for a home playoff berth next Saturday against the Columbus Crew. In the meantime, we here at The Mane Land have been examining what challenges await the Lions and exactly Orlando needs to do down the stretch to ensure postseason success.

In a somewhat anti-climactic end to his Lion career, Orlando City recently transferred Designated Player Ercan Kara last week to Turkish side Samsunpor. The move has previously been dissected by our own Sean Rollins (which you can read more about here) and it has called for a reset of expectations when it comes to the Lions’ share of the goal-scoring responsibilities.

For better or worse, it seems now that Orlando is all in on calling upon a trio of youthful strikers to close out the season. Duncan McGuire, Ramiro Enrique and even Jack Lynn all may see time at the tip of the spear, and any and all goal-scoring contributions that they can make would be more than welcome.

The surprising emergence of McGuire this year is what allowed Orlando to be flexible when it came to the departure of Kara; however, that is not to say that there have not been concerns regarding the now entrenched rookie. McGuire had thrived earlier in the season as a change of pace player and a decent amount of his goals early on came from pure hustle, yet he has been asked in recent weeks to use his high motor for longer as a dedicated starter.

McGuire has not found the back of the net in a league game since Orlando defeated Atlanta back on July 15, and while he does so many little things correctly, it is hard to be encouraged by his current run of form. Add in a shoulder injury scare last week in Cincinnati and it is anyone’s guess as to what version of McGuire, Orlando fans see over the last month and change of the regular season.

If McGuire requires a longer time frame to rehab from his knock, the heir to his spot in the lineup will fall to Enrique. In his first season with Orlando, Enrique also has embraced the spark-plug-off-the-bench lifestyle. His fresh legs and fast pace have caught winded defenders off guard throughout the year and he has enjoyed two goals and an assist in 718 minutes this season, including the most recent Orlando City highlight, where he tracked down his own heavy first touch but did not give up on the play and was able to send a ball back into the box for Facundo Torres’ winner against FC Cincinnati.

The one-two combo of McGuire and Enrique could cause headaches for tired back lines down the stretch as both players have demonstrated that they can use their speed and positioning to make a difference.

Finally, former 2022 MLS SuperDraft pick Lynn will likely see more time at least with the reserves on the bench as he fills a natural role of substitute striker. Lynn, who has already doubled his career first-team playing time (13 minutes) this year has spent the majority of his time since being drafted with the Orlando City B squad. With the second team he has enjoyed success again this year, finding the back of the net 18 times so far and entered the weekend leading the MLS NEXT Pro Golden Boot race.

Recently, Lynn’s services were employed for the final five minutes of the game against St. Louis City SC. He had a handful of solid defensive plays and provided a beautiful outlet pass to Enrique which, led to a red card for Jake Nerwinski of St. Louis.

If Orlando City is going to continue its strong run of form, the team will have to get some type of production out of these young Lions, and I might even be so inclined to say that as they go, so might the season.

What do you think City fans? Will McGuire break out of his mini slump, and are Enrique and Lynn enough firepower off the bench to get the job done? Let us know your takes in the comments below. And, as always, vamos Orlando!


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