A week from tomorrow, Orlando City will open it's 6th MLS season at home against Real Salt Lake. While the Lions will be without their European star, Luis Nani for that game, the fans have plenty of reasons to be excited.
Most of the buzz has been surrounding the new head coach, Oscar Pareja. The fans sense that they have finally found the right man for the job. In a total of seven seasons in the MLS, Pareja has only failed to miss the playoffs twice. He also boasts a Supporter's Shield and a US Open Cup trophy on his resume.
Other sources of excitement stem from the wealth of new South American talent added to the roster. The Lions have brought in the Peruvian national team GK Pedro Gallese, the former Corinthians CDM Junior Urso, the former Brazilian Championship winning CB Antonio Carlos, and the promising Racing Club CB Rodrigo Schlegel among others.
With all of these moves completed, it looks as though there is still one more transfer to be made. Orlando City CEO Alex Leitao recently came out and told the media that they're "not done yet" when asked about any potential transfers before the season starts.
A few days after the quote from Leitao, rumors appeared in the European media linking Orlando City to moves with Rayo Vallecano winger Alvaro Garcia and FCSB star Florinel Coman. With one more international spot still available, the front office is seemingly looking to fill the left-wing position with a European.
Although the offseason has shown signs of progress, there are still plenty of questions surrounding the team. One of the biggest is aimed at DP striker Dom Dwyer. With only 7 goals and 4 assists in MLS play lasts season, there are doubts over his ability to bounce back this year. Those doubts have been amplified with the recent news of his hip injury incurred during the preseason.
Another concern with the team is the weight of its poor history. While the team will be trying to make the playoffs for the first time, they will also be fighting to gain their first win over rivals Atlanta United. Whether or not this group of players can overcome the pressures of being the first to achieve those tasks, only time will tell.
At this moment in time, I do not believe the team will finish in a playoff position. When I look at the squad, I worry about where the goals will come from and when you look at how some of the other Eastern Conference teams have improved, it's hard to disagree. That being said, I think Orlando has a much higher chance of making the playoffs if they do complete the transfer of Garcia or Coman (or someone similar) in the coming weeks.