Orlando City SC are no longer paper tigers, they’re the young lions.
Orlando veterans ’95 Noah Franke, ’96 Ricky Prestridge, ’96 Braeden Luna, ’96 Rohan Roberts, ’96 Mikey Melvin are all beginning what looks to be budding careers at the NCAA level. Last seasons hired gun, ’96 Danny Lane, who spent a majority of his youth at nearby Chargers FC, is starring for Memphis University.
Those six were arguably the heart and soul of the club for multiple seasons. There progression to major D1 soccer is further validation that Orlando City SC is a growing presence not only at the USL/MLS level but also in the NCAA ranks.
This season the young Lions will be relying on last seasons U17/18 top goal-scorer ’96 Gorka Aperribay to once again lead the line. Aperribay netted 13 times last season and will be looking to top that mark with the inclusion of hot-shot strike partner ’97 Jaiden Fortune by his side. Fortune should be the perfect compliment to Aperribay as the pair bring much different skills to the front. Do not be surprised if ’97 Carlos Cuevas see plenty of minutes up top as well.
The Aperribay-Fortune partnership will be conducted by returning U17/18 #10 ’96 Dennis Zapata. Zapata is one of the top creators in Florida and his return to OCSC signals the clubs clear intent to push for the play-offs this season. Zapata was behind 25 of the clubs 63 goals last season. He will be flanked by Colombian Santiago Patino.
Orlando was active in the USSDA transfer market bringing back Florida-natives ’96 Aidan Wixted and ’96 Allen Sexius from Chicago Magic PSG. Sexius and Wixted joined current Orlando City SC star ’97 Tommy Redding in making the journey to Chicago to play for the Magic last season. Redding’s return to Florida was matched by the pair of 96s. Wixted is heading to NC State and prefers to play in defense but could see himself getting minutes in the midfield this season.
It should be noted that a number of the top players on the OCSC U17/18 side are former club teammates with FC America Vipers. Sexius, Wixted, Redding, Aperribay, ’96 Chandler Maynes, ’96 Nick O’Callaghan, ’96 Jake Stone and ’97 Hannover 96 Midfielder Abuchi Obinwa were key figures to that squad. That FC America Vipers squad won two state championships, three Disney showcases and 1 Super Y National Championship.
Sexius is an absolute beast and will make a huge jump up OWTY Top 100 of 2015 when the rankings drop later this Fall. He has a great shot and feel for the midfield. He succeeds at virtually any spot on the field. His role for Orlando this season might vary, but we like him as either a deep lying midfielder or out wide.
The defense will be organized by former Chargers FC goalkeeper ’97 Mason Stajduhar. Stajduhar is a very commanding presence. OCSC also has ’97 Jake Stone in reserve.
The defense could prove to be one of the deeper areas of the squad. It will be led by Boca United FC centerback ’97 Aaron Kleinert. Kleinert is an imposing figure who will surrounded by ’96 Chandler Maynes and ’97 Cormac Begley who are veterans of the OCSC system. Maynes was a consistent starter at times last season for the U17/18s.
The U17/18s have a goal of making the play-offs, the U15/16 have visions of winning the USSDA at this level.
The U15/16s return four key returns in, ’98 Brandon Bartel, ’98 Tristan Johnson, ’98 Jack McCloskey and English-man Thomas Dennis. The quartet is boosted by the return of US Resident ’98 David Loera, who is one of the top ’98s in all of USSDA. Loera should threaten to led this age division in scoring.
The U15/16s will supplement Loera with fellow attacking talent ’98 Nathaniel Adamolekun who joins Orlando City from Lonestar SC Academy in Texas. Adamolekun is a massive target forward, who’s 6-foot-2 frame is combined with his tremendous pace and foot skills. Adamoleku and Loera will be joined by U15/16 veteran ’98 Jonathan Rosales, who started a majority of the matches last season, scoring 8 goals. Rosales-Adamoleku-Loera will score plenty of times.
US U15 midfield star ’99 Raul Aguilera will be pulling the strings. Aguilera is a key figure for both the US squad and the main member of Orlando’s Academy but has been targeted by nearly every major Mexican club.
Johnson and Bartel will round out the midfield.
The defense will be composed of Dennis, McCloskey, Norris and possibly ’99 Randall Congreaves, who was a key defender at the U13/14 level.
For Orlando City U15/16 depth is key. They will likely bring last seasons top U15/16 scorers ’99 Jonathan Brasiliano and ’99 Landen Haig off the bench. Brasiliano and Haig both scored 21 goals last season but will likely start the season behind Loera, Adamolekun and Rosales, yet both will get plenty of opportunities.
Also watch for ’99 Caleb Franke, ’99 Juan Esteban Carmona, ’98 Juan Hernandez, and ’96 Bryce Willis to play big roles this season.
The U13/14s will too look to be one of the top squads in the nation.
They return star ’00 Asyed Sanchez at striker who tied Brasiliano and Haig with 21 goals last season for the U13/14s. ’00 Jacob Garzon is the main man in the midfield. The diminutive Garzon is a perfect replacement for outgoing U13/14 star Aguilera.
One of the quieter moves in the USSDA this summer was the switch of ’00 Alejandro Pereira. Pereira is a scoring machine. He joins Orlando City from Jacksonville FC where he scored 28 times last season. His arrival in Orlando should see that number increase with the type of service and talent around him. Look for Pereira to join the US U14 National Team pool by the end of 2014.
’01 Alejandro Colon-Rivero is a solid defender, ’00 Gregory Brick is a solid goalkeeper and ’00 Allan Seals is good midfielder.
Club Captain :: Chandler Maynes
Impact Player :: Gorka Aperribay
Club Talisman :: Aidan Wixted
Club Star :: David Loera
Defensive Stalwart :: Aaron Kleinert
Top Prospect :: Raul Aguilera
Pro Prospect :: Allen Sexius