Stefano Pinho’s injury last game comes in a really tough moment for the Lions as it leaves them with only one pure striker from the SuperDraft rookie Chris Mueller. Also, a loss and a draw on its first two matches makes Orlando City a bit nervous on the initial stage of the 2018 season.
With Dom Dwyer’s and Stéfano Pinho’s absence on the field, head coach Jason Kreis will have to get creative and find some offensive solutions for the lack of a “pure number 9” upfront. The main choice currently is Mueller, a potential star with lots of expectations from both the fans and the coaches. He has performed well for a rookie in his two firsts games in Major League Soccer and delivered great individual numbers in the preseason.
However, as a pro, first division club, Orlando City can’t rely only on a rookie’s hand, meaning there must be at least a couple more of options to choose from when conforming an initial line-up.
José Villarreal, a polyvalent forward who knows what it takes to win a MLS cup, could be another choice for Kreis looking forward to make rotations on the front line in the following games. Nevertheless, he delivers his best performances when he goes a bit deeper into the midfield and not as a target man inside the box, moreover, he is not known for being a goal-scoring machine since he, in 70 MLS regular season and playoff matches, has scored only 5 times.
On the other hand, Justin Meram could fill the main striker spot for a few games while Dwyer and co. come back to the “healthy” roster.
The Iraq international’s quality in front of the rival’s goal both inside and outside the box is a key aspect of this new Orlando City’s era. If Kreis manages to give him the proper company on the front line, granting him a good passer such as Higuita, the Lions can improve their situation significantly while waiting for the whole squad to be alright.
Although the Lions didn’t begin the season with the right foot, it’s still pretty soon to start making hard critics towards the team. However, this rough experience served as a lesson learned not to increase the expectations too high before the actual season begins.