Four MLS teams will square off in the Orlando City Invitational on February 16th and 20th. With doubleheaders on both days, fans will get a glimpse of the new-look squads from Orlando City, NYCFC, New England Revolution and Minnesota United.
Let’s take a look at some of the offseason additions and subtractions from each team.
Invitational Schedule: Sat. Feb 16, 7:30 pm vs. NYCFC, Wed. Feb 20, 7:30 pm vs. New England.
In: Danilo Acosta, Tesho Akindele, Alex De John, Jhegson Sebastián Méndez, João Moutinho, Santiago Patiño, Greg Ranjitsingh, Kyle Smith, Ruan.
Out: Joe Bendik, Richie Laryea, Chris Shuler, Jonathan Spector, Scott Sutter, Donny Toia, Jose Villarreal, Earl Edwards Jr., PC, Mohamed El-Munir, Amro Tarek, Tony Rocha, Yoshi Yotun, Stefano Pinho, RJ Allen.
As evident from the above, roster turnover has been a key focus of Orlando City’s offseason. New faces and a young core have been brought in to help develop Head Coach James O’Connor and Executive VP of Soccer Operation Luiz Muzzi’s vision for the Club.
Two Academy products, Forward’s Benji Michel (Homegrown contract) and Santiago Patino (MLS SuperDraft), have given the Lions exciting prospects in the final third.
21-year-old midfielder Jhegson Méndez has impressed early in camp. His quickness on the ball should make him one to watch during the Orlando City Invitational.
Also, keep an eye on João Moutinho, who Orlando City acquired via trade with LAFC. His skill on the ball has provided Orlando with some attacking options on the left flank in the team’s early scrimmages.
New England Revolution
Invitational Schedule: Sat. Feb 16, 4:30 pm vs. Minnesota, Wed. Feb 20, 7:30 pm vs. Orlando City.
In: Nicolas Firmino, Edgar Castillo, Juan Fernando Caicedo, Tajon Buchanan, Justin Rennicks, Carles Gil.
Out: Chris Tierney, Claude Dielna, Guillermo Hauche, Femi Hollinger-Janzen, Cristhian Machado, Nicolas Samayoa, Mark Segbers, Kelyn Rowe.
The New England Revolution will travel to Orlando after wrapping up two weeks of preseason in Spain. The team played four scrimmages abroad, emerging with a 1-2-1 record.
The Revs’ biggest offseason acquisition was designated player Carles Gil. The 26-year-old Spanish Midfielder has played in La Liga with Deportivo, Elche and Valencia, and the English Premier League, with Aston Villa. Gil scored his first goal in his new shirt in the team’s final match during their preseason in Spain.
Look for the Revs attack of Juan Agudelo, Diego Fagundez, and Gil to continue to gel during their two matches in Orlando.
Invitational Schedule: Sat. Feb 16, 4:30 pm vs. New England Revolution, Wed. Feb 20, 4:30 pm vs. NYCFC.
In: Jan Gregus, Osvaldo Alonso, Dayne St. Clair, Romain Metanire, Ike Opara.
Out: Marc Burch, Ibson, Matt Lampson, Fernando Bob, Jerome Thiesson, Collen Warner, Bertrand Owundi Eko’o, Frantz Pangop, Alex Kapp, Harrison Heath, Johan Venegas, Maximiano, Alexi Gomez.
Minnesota welcomed two MLS veterans to their roster this offseason.
Longtime Seattle Sounders midfielder Ozzie Alonso joined the team through the waiver draft. Alonso is a bully in the midfield and boasts four MLS All-Star selections over his 10-year career.
In a blockbuster deal, Minnesota sent $900,000 in allocation money to Sporting KC to acquire defender Ike Opara. Opara has dealt with several injuries over the course of his career but has shown to be one of the league’s top defenders when healthy.
The invitational will be a crucial time for Minnesota as their new players and those returning from injury will look to gel.
New York City FC
Invitational Schedule: Sat. Feb 16, 7:30 pm vs. Orlando City, Wed. Feb 20, 4:30 pm vs. Minnesota.
In: Tony Rocha, Keaton Parks, Justin Haak, Juan Pablo Torres, Luis Barraza, Alexandru Mitrita
Out: David Villa, Eloi Amagat, Kwame Awuah, Tommy McNamara, Andrew Rawls, Rodney Wallace, Yangel Herrera, Saad Abdul-Salaam, Jo Inge Berget, Cedric Houtondji.
It’s officially the dawn of the post-David Villa era for NYCFC. The striker departed in December to join Vissel Kobe in the J1 League after scoring 80 goals in 124 appearances for the club.
To bolster their remaining roster, the team added Alexandru Mitriță as a designated player. Alexandru was Liga 1’s top scorer with Universitatea Craiova in 2018/19 with 12 goals in 16 appearances.
NYCFC is coming off their fifth consecutive preseason in Abu Dhabi.