Orlando City still needs another midfielder before the season

Christopher Adams
Oct 9, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA; Orlando City midfielder Junior Urso (11) celebrates scoring
Oct 9, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA; Orlando City midfielder Junior Urso (11) celebrates scoring / Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports
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Orlando City's offseason overhaul has been vast and impressive. The club has brought in a new Designated Player, is on the brink of adding another U22 signing, made a pair of top 10 selections in the SuperDraft and brought in a handful of other players while turning over a core chunk of the roster.

Amidst this massive retooling of the first team roster, the Lions still have a massive Bear-shaped hole in the middle of the park.

Veteran midfielder Junior Urso left the club after three succesful seasons in Orlando. The Brazilian returned to his home country for personal reasons, leaving an open spot in midfield for Orlando City to fill.

Presumably that spot was set to be filled by former Colombia and United States youth international Andres Perea, but he was traded to the Philadelphia Union soon after. Without Urso and Perea, there's no natural replacement in that box-to-box midfield role.

The club signed longtime MLS veteran Felipe to a deal early in the offseason. The 32-year-old Brazilian is coming off a solid season with Austin FC, but likely isn't an every game starter at this point in his career. Peruvian international Wilder Cartagena is still with the club after arriving on loan last summer, but he's more of a natural defensive midfielder.

On paper, there seems to be a need for a genuine starting caliber midfielder to slot next to captain Mauricio Pereyra and young star César Araújo, With Orlando's recent signings, however, maybe that's not what the club sees.

After brining in DP winger Martín Ojeda, the club also appears set to sign another forward on a large transfer fee. With these moves, Orlando filled all three DP spots and all three U22 spots. All but one of those six high priced players are attackers.

Without the clear budget to sign a high-level No. 8, this could mean Orlando's midfield balance shifts from years past. Pererya, while nominally a No.10 attacking midfielder, played many games as a deeper lying playmaker and possession node.

Both Ojeda and fellow DP Facundo Torres have shown the ability to play as attacking midfielders in their careers as well. Orlando could potentially line up with one of its two DP wingers as the No. 10 and then play Caragena alongside Araújo to provide adequate defensive cover.

The club's new management has shown a willingness to invest in the first team squad, and the front office's recruitment and scouting has largely been a success. As the season draws closer, the final moves they make, or don't make, will reveal a lot about how Orlando City will play in 2023.

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