The Lions narrowly missed out on the MLS Playoffs last year. A bounce here, a bounce there and the 2016 season could have looked a lot different for Jason Kreis’ team.
2016 was 2016, though.
Orlando City SC has improved across the board during this 2017 season: offseason additions have added depth and experience to the squad, Jason Kreis had a full preseason to institute his coaching philosophy on the team, individual players have stepped up, the Club made the move to Orlando City Stadium.
New Faces Making a Difference
The signing of Jonathan Spector and Will Johnson brought a wealth of experience to Orlando City’s ranks. General Manager Niki Budalic highlighted this area as something the team needed to improve in - which it did. Bringing seasoned pros to the Club, and mixing them with players who still have untapped potential (i.e. Carlos Rivas, Tommy Redding), is part of the winning formula identified by Budalic and Kreis this offseason.
Defensive solidity is where it all starts for Jason Kreis. This was one of his focal points going into the team’s preseason camp back in February. Orlando City struggled to keep their oppositions from scoring in 2016; the team was among the worst in MLS when it came to goals conceded.
After a full preseason with Kreis in charge, things are different in 2017. In 2016, the team recorded a total of five shutouts in 34 games. Bendik and the Lions have already posted six shutouts in just 20 games this season.
Orlando City has not been perfect defensively this season, but it is certainly safe to say Jason Kreis’ valuation of defensive solidity has his team headed in the right direction.
Rivas Tapping Into Potential
After a quiet 2016 season, Rivas has scored four goals and tallied a team-leading five assists in 15 starts this MLS season. Carlos Rivas was rarely a first choice in 2016. Upon the arrival of Jason Kreis last July, Rivas began to see more of the field and made an impression on Orlando City’s new boss.
The Colombian’s 2017 season has seen its ups and its downs, but for someone possessing the pace, work rate, and natural talent of Carlos Rivas, the sky’s the limit. And he’s only 23.
Move to The Fortress
To say the move to Orlando City Stadium has been great for the Club would be an understatement .
Orlando City holds a 6-2-3 home record this season and the Club’s new Fortress has already witnessed some historic moments. On game days, the electric atmosphere in Orlando City Stadium is impossible to emulate. The purple smoke, drumbeats on “The Wall”, and the boisterous 25,000 person crowd are a few things that have made Orlando City Stadium the new standard for game day experience in MLS.