Expectations

Newest Lions Bring Winning Mentality Into Start of Camp

Short conversations with RJ Allen and Jose Villarreal make one thing clear.

Orlando City's newest Lions are here to win.

"Hopefully we can make a real strong run. Not just making the playoffs but pursuing more than that," said Allen, who was acquired from New York City via trade in December.

Allen and Villarreal are two of the nine new faces brought in this offseason. One thing all of them have in common is that they've all done a lot of winning.

Joining Allen and Villarreal are Mohamed El-Munir (FK Partizan, Serbia) and forward Stéfano Pinho (Miami FC, NASL), both fresh off league titles in 2017; Chris Mueller, a 2017 Big Ten champion and Offensive Player of the Year; midfielder Cam Lindley, who won a U-18 national championship in 2015; goalkeeper Adam Grinwis, a 2015 USL Cup champion; Sacha Kljestan, a two-time MLS Best XI midfielder and 2015 Supporters' Shield winner; and Josué Colmán, who's coming off a Torneo Clausura title in Paraguay.

"The Club and the caliber of players that Jason [Kreis] and his staff and Niki [Budalic] have brought in, we can definitely achieve more than just making the playoffs," Allen continued.

Of course, playoffs are 10 months away, and a whole lot has to happen between now and then.

Sunday's medical evaluations and Orlando Health marked the first official team activity of 2018. When preseason training camp begins tomorrow, it will be everyone's first chance to really get to know their new teammates. For others, it's the simple things.

"Putting my cleats on," quipped Villarreal, himself a two-time MLS Cup champion with the Galaxy.

It will be a preseason unlike any other for Villarreal, who finds himself on a new MLS roster for the first time in his career. But what's refreshing about Villarreal is his mindset.

"I know I just gotta work hard," he said. "Just always think about the team."

Villarreal offered nothing about a scoring target or getting minutes when asked his personal goals. One goal, spoken bluntly, is all he mentioned.

"Winning a championship. That's it."

Championships aren't won in March or April, not in August or September. They certainly aren't won in January. But that City's newest faces are already clear on the objective – and they believe – that's everything.

"I'm just trying to bring whatever I can bring," Villarreal said. "That's the main goal for us, try to win a championship. You never hope to win the first game only. We're trying to make it to the end."

On Day 1, that's something else to look forward to.

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