Orlando City has been a hot name in the MLS world for the last few months. Orlando City has become one of the frontrunners for the next MLS team. The Orlando City front office has promised a sparkling new stadium and Brazilian superstars, but it is a rapidly improving academy that has most US youth observers excited.
Leading the way is ’96 usynt Richard Prestridge. Prestridge was a revelation at the U15/16 level, scoring 21 goals in only 27 matches. Prestridge is an intelligent and skillful attacker who can play anywhere in midfield or the attacking third. He has been on the cusp of US youth teams and with another good year at the U17/18 level, he could easily see himself in the US U20 pool.
Orlando U18s will also welcome back midfielders Noah Franke (’95) and Tristan Rehrig (’95). Look for Franke to be a leader in the midfield. Franke started in 23 of Orlando’s 24 games last season. While the U18s finished in last place, Franke was one of the bright spots, playing up a year, scoring three goals and earning co-captaincy of the squad. Franke is a hot prospect on the college recruiting scene, with a number of top schools requesting his services.
The U18s will welcome a number of top U16s to the squad outside Prestridge. Defenders Cameron Hardington (’96), Rohan Roberts (’96) and Austin Sandel (’96) played nearly every game together last season and should have a good understanding from day one as U18s. Also watch Orlando City play-maker Dennis Zapata (’96). At 5’10”, Zapata has great size for an attacking midfielder, and has the vision and creativity to send front-runners Prestridge and Orlando newcomer Danny Lane (’96) to the races.
Lane has seen time with ODP but not the national set-up. Lane played for the Clearwater Charges U18s last season, scoring 11 goals while playing up two years. Lane’s 2012-2013 success did not go unnoticed. Lane was offered a three-week training stint with Dutch side Roda JC. Lane played with the team in Brussels and impressed the coaches, notching two assists. Lane will be returning to Orlando City this season fresh off his success in Holland. Lane told OWTY that he plans on playing for Orlando but would like to test the waters of European football when he turns 18. OWTY predicts a big season for the 5’8” prospect.
Another interesting name to watch on the U18 roster is Jaiden Fortune (’97). He is the only ’97 on their roster and one of the few in the conference.
The Orlando City U16s lose nearly every contributor outside of David McBroom (’97) and David Norris (’98) who both spent some time training with the Orlando U18s last season. This season McBroom and Norris will be looked to lead the young U16s. Joseph O’Sullivan (’98), Tristan Johnson (’97), Alejandro Guerrero (’97), and Nicholas O’Callaghan (’98) join Orlando from Florida’s FC America, a veritable talent pipeline.
The Orlando City U13/14 is filled with talented players from all over Florida. Many of these players are relatively unknown to OWTY but one who has turned heads is Jacob Garzon (’00). He was heavily involved with the 2013 id2 program and will be in the discussion for next year’s trip.
Academy Star: ’96 Richard Prestridge
Academy Talisman: ’96 Noah Franke
Academy Prospect: ’00 Jacob Garzon