2020 Orlando City Preview: Orlando Soccer Journal staff predictions


Orlando City’s sixth season in Major League Soccer kicks off this Saturday at Exploria Stadium when the Lions host Real Salt Lake at 6 p.m. With the dawn of a new era, our knowledgable staff here at the Orlando Soccer Journal has come together to offer some predictions for the 2020 season.

Mike Gramajo

Over/Under 40 points (Orlando City finished 2019 at 37 points): Over 

Conference Finish: 7th

Top Goalscorer: Nani — The Orlando City captain will miss the first two games of the season due to suspension, but if the Portuguese attacker is able to build on the individual success he had last year, there’s no doubt we’ll see Nani put up another double-double season and perhaps breaking his team-leading 12 goals from last season.

Breakout Star: Mauricio Pereyra — The Uruguayan will be competing in his first full season in MLS with the Lions, having been able to have a preseason. With that said, we’ll be able to see more of what Pereyra is truly like. 

Mike’s expectations for the season: It’s been the same since 2015 for Orlando City; failing to make the playoffs. This year, however, could be different. Given the system that Oscar Pareja plans to implement and from what I’ve seen in preseason, expect the 2020 Orlando City squad to be more of a high pressing team rather than a team that’s been used to sitting back and hunkering down and relying mostly on their counter-attack. The high press game will allow the Lions to be that “protagonist” on the field, something which Pareja has emphasized for most of the preseason. If the Lions are able to build an identity around that, for the first time in a while, they could actually defy expectations on the field.

Austin David

Over/Under 40 Points: Over

Conference Finish: 6th

Top Goalscorer: Benji Michel — Last year Michel showed sparks of potential in his moments on the pitch, but this season the Homegrown forward will take it to another level. With Dwyer oft-injured and Tesho getting older, Michel could find himself as the number one scoring option as the season goes on.

Breakout Star: Benji Michel —  See above

Austin’s expectations for the season: Half a decade of miring in below-average performances, this season is critical for the Orlando City front office. The team seems to be on the same page from the GM to the coaching staff to the players. All that’s needed are the performances on the pitch. If they can find consistent goalscoring, this team can win a lot of 1-0 games throughout the season with the defense and goalkeeper they have. Until they prove otherwise, this is still a team that has never made the playoffs. Once they start putting good performances together, you will hopefully see what this team is truly made of.

Gavin Ewbank

Over/Under 40 Points: Over

Conference Finish: 7th

Top Goalscorer: Dom Dwyer — If Orlando makes the playoffs, it’s going to have to involve Dwyer having the type of 15-ish goals season he’s capable of putting up. We want to believe in Dom again, so here goes nothing.

Breakout Star: Kamal Miller — I really like Miller. He’s got game and versatility, two things this team needs from its backline. Miller showed glimpses of what he’s capable of last season and with, I believe, an expanded role in 2020, he’ll take that next step as one of the league’s rising defenders.

Gavin’s expectations for the season: 45 points got the New England Revolution into the postseason as the 7th seed in 2019, meaning Orlando’s looking at needing about an eight-point improvement in the first year under Oscar Pareja, something this team is easily capable of if it can carry over last season’s defensive performance and place a few more of those can’t-misses chances in the back of the net. We’re all looking at this roster and wondering where the goals are going to come from, and if nobody is able to step up and be the elite goalscorer (cough cough, Dom) then that player is likely going to have to come from outside of the team in the summer. The East is going to be a dog fight, but if Orlando can figure out how to balance the attack with its defense, then I think this is finally the year we get to watch some playoff soccer in Orlando.

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