By MIKE GRAMAJO
Although they haven’t met on the field yet, Orlando City SC will consider themselves winners of their first square off with New York City FC in Wednesday’s Expansion Priority Draft.
The Lions won the initial lottery to decide which team picks first, and OCSC coach Adrian Heath was able to come away with a few valuable assets, scooping up the first picks in December’s MLS Expansion Draft and January’s SuperDraft.
Additionally, Heath took advantage of a gaffe by NYCFC coach Jason Kreis to also nab the top spot in the underrated USL Pro/NASL Player Priority Ranking.
“I think we pretty much got what we were after,” Heath said afterward. “We’ve got some good young players (already), but now we need to get some MLS players. Obviously, we think with the Expansion Draft and SuperDraft, we can get some players that can come in and contribute straight away.”
NYCFC used its top pick on allocation ranking instead of the SuperDraft, but Heath offered assurances that Orlando City might still add a second designated player to join Kaká.
“We’re working behind the scenes to make one or two things available when the appropriate time comes,” Heath said. “We’ll wait and see what comes our way and where we think we are in terms of the squad when it gets a little but closer to January. I think that would be the time something might happen on that front. We haven’t ruled it out, (but) at this moment we’re not close to a second DP.”
The Lions majority owner Flavio Augusto Da Silva has made it no secret in the past when he told members of the media and fans that his plans are to attract high-profile Brazilian players to Orlando. Proof off that came in the summer signing of Kaká, who is currently on loan.
With the two-team Expansion Draft up next on Dec. 10, Heath mentioned to reporters that Orlando City will focus on experienced MLS players, which is perhaps a reference to the fact that four of the club’s seven players that have signed MLS contracts so far are still just teenagers.
Add to that three players from the USL Pro squad that are currently in negotiations for MLS deals.
“We’re hoping we can get something done,” Heath said. “Luke (Boden) has been with us a long time and the other two are young boys that we think have a future going forward.”
Midfielder Adama Mbengue, who came up from Orlando City’s U-23 squad, is one of the players currently being looked at for a potential MLS contract with the Lions. Having played as a winger in 2014, the 20-year old served as an important piece to Orlando City’s emphasis on possession. Harrison Heath, the son of the Lions head coach, is the third player being courted for 2015.
Additionally, with no goalkeeper or forward yet signed for Orlando City, Heath reiterated his commitment to filling those voids come December.
Although the upcoming drafts will be important, Orlando City’s biggest task now might be pursuing work permits for their international players to exclude them from the eight-player international limit.
Orlando City currently have five international players signed for 2015, and potentially three more international players on their way if Boden, Mbengue and Harrison Heath all sign for Orlando.
However, Heath told reporters that general manager Paul McDonough will sort that out, hinting that a few of those players may be able to receive work visa’s before the start of the 2015 season.
One thing Heath did confirm is that long-time assistant coach Ian Fuller will remain on his coaching staff for Orlando City’s inaugural MLS season.
It’s a busy few months ahead for the Lions, but after Wednesday’s results, the future looks bright.
What are your thoughts on what Heath had to say? What was your reaction to how the Expansion Priority Draft went for OCSC? What do you think Heath should focus on now?
Share your thoughts below.
I can’t remember from previous expansion drafts, is it a snake draft or is Orlando every odd numbered pick.
In 2010 it was not a snake draft, every other pick.
As the expansion draft nears, I can’t help but get sucked into speculation of who teams will decide to protect with their, presumably, 11 spots. Here’s who I think Sporting Kansas City protects:
3. Dwyer (unless he leaves for UK)
5. Palmer-Brown (HG, but according to MLS he is eligible to be selected)
6. Sinovic (no way they leave him free again)
7. Myers (this spot is Igor Juliao’s should SKC sign him permanently, strictly based on $$)
8. Kronberg (still hasn’t got his fair shake)
9. Dovale (has shown his potential in CCL play)
10. Opara (should replace Collin for the upcoming season should EPB not show readiness)
11. Bieler (simple move, he is trade bait)
Obviously this leaves a number of good depth players available, and a few starters as well (Nagamura, Saad, Collin, Olum) but I think the most important players to SKC moving forward (other than Bieler) are listed above.
Yeah, the whiners will complain about the lack of depth, but when guys like Neagle ( 7 goals and three of them should be goal of the week ) are left open. There are some very good players to be had there.
Let’s talk actual assets, as opposed to this draft of drafts.
NYCFC has Villa, Lampard, Saunders, Jacobson and Brovsky. OCFC has Kaka and a bunch of minor leaguers. I don’t think it’s even close.
NYCFC then got first dibs on many veteran acquisition tools, though OCFC will have first dibs on college players, minor leaguers, and exposed players in an expansion draft. One spot ahead! NYCFC had the gaffe on the one draft of drafts pick, but this sounds like Kreis is putting together a team that will be better sooner. And we know already how he did in SL.
This is a bit rah-rah towards a team signing a couple dessicated Brazilians — who didn’t make their 2014 team — to front a bunch of expendable journeymen and college players.
I think it’s advantage NYCFC, even with the goof. Where’s that piece?
You must have missed it:
Orlando has a stadium plan. NYCFC has no clue.
well his post is about players, not the stadium situation. so lets try to keep it on topic.
OC is in a football stadium, NYC is in a baseball stadium. Wow. OC does have a more definite plan but until ground turns it’s a modest advantage. Houston took years to actually make theirs reality.
In terms of the piece, I remember Houston gloriously clearing cap room by trading DeRo (who went on to be MVP) for a bag of balls and a player soon gotten rid of. We “capitalized” on that moment by our worst season ever with the awful LA Landin taking up some of the salary. I tend to look more at who they get and less at the transient inside baseball of who sits where in what league order. You don’t get the right dude who cares if you got top draft pick. Whereas Lampard and Villa are proven players and we know they’re coming.
NYC has an actual signed player advantage. OC just moved atop some lists (so did NYC). I don’t think OC’s lists are as useful.
Don’t worry, this article may be the only place NY doesn’t enjoy favoritism. You must have missed the MLS reception for the new clubs. http://www.goal.com/en-us/news/1110/major-league-soccer/2014/09/25/5131319/confident-orlando-city-enjoys-successful-first-day-of?ICID=HP_BN_1
Do you really think it is an advantage for NYC to have a bunch of overpriced and over the hill players? Soccer is a young man’s game. We’ll see who has the last laugh.
I’m no Lampard fan, but watch his performances for City and you will see he still has it.
Anyone know how many players each MLS team is able to protect? Is it 11, 12? All I know is that no team can have more than two selected…
I’m pretty sure they can protect any and everyone except James Riley
Seriously. Does he get picked in every expansion draft?
He’s workhorse enough to be interesting to a new team but mediocre enough to be left curbside when it’s time to protect players.
In 2010, each team could protect 11…plus homegrowns and Generation Adidas players should be automatically protected and don’t count against the 11.
These rules have probably changed somewhat since 2010, but it says here teams can protect senior team AND developmental players. I’m not sure sure if homegrowns and GA players are exempted. I was surprised to learn DPs are NOT automatically exempted either. They must be protected or else risk being taken. Crazy.
Juan Pablo Angel
Ives reported on this a few days ago:
“In past, MLS expansion drafts Generation Adidas and Homegrown Players were automatically exempt and do not count against the 11 protected players.”
of course, we won’t know for sure until they decide if anything will change. but from what i’ve read, it doesn’t seem like that particular rule will change this go around.
DP is a cap exception not a franchise player.
There are obvious upsides and downsides to taking an expensive player, which are their own defense mechanism.
A lot of veteran players are taken for trade value being sent right back. I was practically giddy we’d shed an aged Ching’s salary and then we worked hard all preseason to get him back.