My Orlando Soccer Holiday Wish List

What Orlando soccer presents am I most hoping to unwrap this year?



Michael Citro, The Mane Land

Happy holidays, Mane Landers. No matter what holiday you may celebrate or where you celebrate it, the season is all about finding that special gift or moment to share with those that you hold most dear. Since it also happens to be the off-season and I cannot share this time of year with my 25,500 other closest friends, I thought I would take a moment to share with you my Orlando soccer holiday wish list as 2023 starts to wind down. So cozy up with a hot cocoa and a cookie or tequila and a taco, to see the top three things I hope the come to fruition this year for all of Orlando soccer!

Postseason Success

I know the first games of the new seasons haven’t even kicked off yet and here I am already talking about next year’s playoffs but hear me out…in 2023, soccer in Orlando almost went three for three when it came to playoff berths. The Orlando Pride narrowly missed the playoffs in 2023 due to the goal differential rule which was a heartbreaking end to the season for players and fans alike. While both Orlando City B and the Lions made it to the promised land of the postseason, both campaigns ended with what felt like a tad bit more left in the gas tank. It would be truly a great end to the upcoming season to see all three squads, Orlando City B, the Orlando Pride, and Orlando City qualify for their respective playoff tournaments.

A Veteran Backup Striker

Duncan McGuire set Orlando City on fire and essentially forced his way into the starting lineup with his affinity for finding the back of the net during his inaugural season in the City Beautiful. In doing so, the front office felt that he was so ready to take the reins that having a Designated Player in the form of striker Ercan Kara became a luxury item and not a team necessity. While McGuire’s play stood for itself, there were still rookie season slumps and periods of time when larger defenders — a la a Walker Zimmerman-type — negated his effectiveness.

Enter holiday wish list item numero dos: a veteran striker who can either play alongside McGuire at times and/or spell the young forward in case of fatigue or (heaven forbid) injury. Last off-season, there were numerous veterans available of the Kei Kamara quality, and Orlando City could benefit immensely from having a reserve player of that caliber heading into the 2024 season. Not only would it help to protect the team’s ability to find the back of the net when McGuire is not on the pitch, but also the addition of a veteran presence could help McGuire as he develops more nuances to his game.

A DP No. 10

This truly should be at the top of every Orlando City fan’s holiday wish list, and it isn’t even up for debate. This present is the Xbox, Tickle Me Elmo, or shiny new car with a giant-ass bow of holiday presents and is essentially a no brainer. Orlando City and former captain Mauricio Pereyra have mutually parted ways, ending El Maestro’s run in purple and gold. Orlando is now without its all-time leader in assists, and while it was clear that Father Time was catching up to Pereyra, his ability to pick out the perfect pass led to more highlights than I can remember.

It is imperative that the scouting department, front office, coaching staff, and team owners dream big with this eventual signing, as it may become the keystone that the success of the 2024 season and beyond rests on. It is truly exciting to imagine what this club could do with a player that has the quality of a Hany Mukhtar or a Carles Gil, and I will be anxiously waiting to open my present this holiday season to see what new and shiny string-pulling midfielder the club has wrapped up for its fans. If anyone from the club is reading this before heading out for the holidays…please don’t make us wait long. I have the patience of my toddler on Christmas morning and the impulse control of…well, also my toddler on Christmas morning!

From all of us here at The Mane Land, we wish you a great holiday season filled with fun, relaxation, and maybe even a new kit with your favorite Pride or Lion player’s name on the back to wear after the new year. And, as always, vamos Orlando!


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