So far, this season for the Orlando City Lions has been a disaster from a defensive standpoint. The team knows how to score, but they cannot keep a lead, which has been the story all year. Their last game was at home against San Jose, and the Lions took the lead around the 90th minute with three minutes of stoppage time, but the last play of the game was an Earthquakes player scoring a goal to tie the game 2-2, which they just let him walked in. The Lions have a great goalkeeper in Joe Bendik, but he cannot do all the defending. This season has been inconsistent defensively, as they have many mix and matching with the back four, but they just have not figured out how to play well or at least on an average level. With the team giving up 21 goals, most of them have come on bad defensive plays at the end of games. So as I watched them play, I do think they should go get at least one new face at the centre back position. I picked out three names, Erik Johansson, Damien Perquis, and Alex.
First off, Erik Johansson is an intriguing defender, who can play both the fullback and centre back positions. He is one of Sweden’s better international defenders, as he has shown great play in the Euros and his 11 international appearances. He is a late bloomer, which is fine, and that I think he could excel in the MLS. The 27-year-old defender current plays in Superliga, home to his team F.C. København (F.C. Copenhagen). They won the league title this past year, which makes it their 11th in team history. Now, Johansson makes smart plays and knows what to do with the ball at his feet, plus he thinks ahead as well. He makes clean tackles and has a good engine that allows him to cover lots of ground. The 6’4″ Swedish native plays the ball well in the air that eliminates the opposing team a chance to score a header. He is valued by Transfermarkt at $1.5 mil €, which Orlando can afford him and might just end up paying $3 mil € for his services. Lastly, he is the youngest option out of the three.
Second, the Lions could take a sneak peek at a a current MLS defender in Damien Perquis, who was in front of Joe Bendik at Toronto F.C. and he would come at a nice cheap price right under $1 mil. He is 32 years old, but he can play at an average level at this point of his career. The Polish defender is great at intercepting the ball, but is a poor tackler, which Orlando needs a good interceptor, but tackling would be nice also. He good against aerial attacks and brings tons of leadership. Lastly, he is not the guy you want to take the ball up, just let him sit back and wait for the counterattack to happen.
Finally, the third choice is Alex from AC Milan. His contract is set to expire and his value has also dropped due to age catching up to him. He would coast maybe around $2 mil to $3 mil in Euros. That is why I think he would fit perfectly in the MLS, as the level of competition is not high like overseas, but eventually the MLS will become better than other leagues overseas. Alex is a veteran defender that has won a ton in his career. He is also Brazilian, which is a reason why I can see him joining the Lions due to Kaka and Julio Baptista convincing him to join up and do something special in the MLS.
Prediction: Orlando goes young and go grab the late bloomer, who is up and coming in Erik Johansson.