Pressure is mounting on Orlando City to achieve success in its third year of existence.
Following two disappointing seasons where they failed to reach the postseason, the Lions open 2017 trying to get close to what New York City FC has done in their first two seasons.
The Lions have a few pieces in place with Cyle Larin, Kaka and Kevin Molino fronting the attack, but plenty of improvements have to be made to the back line to achieve the club’s lofty goals in 2017, a year in which they'll have a soccer-specific stadium.
The Lions certainly improved their defense with the acquisitions of Donny Toia from Atlanta United and the free-agent signing of Will Johnson, as the Canadian who played the 2016 season with Toronto FC can operate as a fullback with ease even if his best role is a more advanced one. However, another addition to the back line would be welcomed.
There's been talk of a potential arrival of French center back Gregory Sertic who is reported to be close to a deal with the Lions, but the deal hasn’t been made official yet. In the case he arrives to Orlando, he should instantly become a regular starter at CB.
Central midfield is probably the deepest position on the roster after Johnson’s signing. But the former TFC star is not the only player who can become a game-changer.
Carlos Rivas and Kevin Molino are a threat on the wing, but the team needs a bit more depth in case any of them get injured. Picking up a cheap option in the draft is out of the picture unless the Lions, who have one pick in the third round, trade into the first or second round. But that doesn't seem likely.
And of course, there's Kaká. The Brazilian playmaker is quite a threat in the final third and even though he's not the same player he was a few years ago, he's still talented enough to dominate the competition at the MLS level.
Speaking of player who play on an above-average level, Larin is one of the most reliable scorers in MLS, but OSC needs to find either a suitable backup or a potential replacement in case he leaves the franchise. A departure of Larin remains a possibility considering several European clubs have already asked for him. But that would be a big blow for a team that's not known for their attack.
As we can see, OSC has already started to build their roster for 2017, but there is still plenty of work that needs to be done. And a few more quality are needed in case Orlando wants to have a chance to reach the postseason in the first year of Jason Kreis in charge.