We caught up with Ben Miller from the Mane Land to find out more about how Orlando City have seemingly turned things around around in 2019.
- Orlando has former Whitecap Brian Rowe as the starting goalkeeper. How’s that working out?: I think Brian Rowe has done quite well for the most part since winning the starting job in preseason. After the first couple games there was a contingent of Orlando fans who would have found fault with him had he discovered the cure for cancer, and while he made a few errors early on his performance was a big reason the team was able to hang on and beat the New York Red Bulls. A good number of the goals he’s given up have been from situations where the opposition is through 1v1 or places a shot so well that very few goalkeepers would get to it. Largely, he’s done a good job.
- Orlando has seemingly turned around things around after a disastrous 2018. What’s the secret?: I think a lot of it has to do with James O’Connor being able to bring in the players that he wanted in the off-season, and also having a full off-season to bring those players up to speed on the type of system he wants to run. Additionally the emergence of new signings Joao Moutinho and Ruan at wing/full back have given the team a few strengths that it can play to-breaking at pace on the counter and getting the ball out wide so the two can go to work. There’s a whole lot of work left to be done though, the team still leaks goals like nobody’s business (particularly early goals) and seems slightly bereft of ideas when Dom Dwyer and Nani aren’t on the field. There seems to be improvement, but its still early and watching this team in MLS has made me extremely suspicious of any time it seems the Lions have finally figured it all out.
- Canadian Tesho Akindele seems to be having a bit of a resurgent year. How does he fit into the Orlando team? I think Tesho has been a great addition to this team. He’s able to win aerial balls that the vertically challenged 5 ft 9 Dwyer can’t, and does a lot of dirty work when it comes to holding up the ball, making runs to open space, and generally working hard. He’s also grabbed a couple goals and an assist, and generally has made a positive impact when on the field. Its difficult because Orlando actually has a few dilemmas when it comes to who should be starting, a welcome problem to have. For the most part its been Dwyer and Nani partnering up top, but I still expect Tesho to see plenty of time on the field this year, especially considering he has those pair of goals and the assist in only four appearances.