Predicted Orlando City starting XI if the league began today

Orlando City SC now have the core of their squad together ahead of their first ever season as a Major League Soccer franchise after the MLS Expansion Draft helped them to add numbers.

The Lions now have 20 players to choose from and although more will be added before they kick off in March, we now have a good idea about what the team will look like.

Don’t miss: Predicted New York City starting XI if the league began today

With the current roster, it is likely that head coach Adrian Heath would play a 4-2-3-1 formation to accommodate the high number of midfielders in the squad.

Goalkeeper: Donovan Ricketts

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The Jamaican shot-stopper was selected with the first overall pick of the Expansion Draft and will start the season in goal for Orlando. Tally Hall will battle for a starting job when he returns from injury but Ricketts has the job nailed down for now. He played 32 times for the Portland Timbers last year and is a solid goalkeeper.

Right-back: Tyler Turner

18-year-old right-back Tyler Turner could be set to start the season for Orlando as the club don’t have a more experienced player to fill in on the right side of defence. Turner likes to attack down the flanks and that could be something Heath wants to see from his team. Will be good to see a young player like Turner given a chance.

Centre-back: Aurelien Collin

Aurelien Collin is a vastly experienced central defender and a great signing for Orlando City. He has spent the last four seasons with Sporting Kansas City and brings a wealth of crucial experience to the backline. Collin played 26 times last season and will expect to see more game time than that in 2015.

Centre-back: Heath Pearce

Heath Pearce is another experienced MLS defender. The 2015 season will be his eighth in the league and he will look to form a solid partnership with Collin at the heart of the Orlando defence. Pearce played 23 games for Montreal last season.

Left-back: Luke Boden

English left-back Luke Boden will likely start the season as the teams left-back. He has been with Orlando City since 2011 and made the USL Pro Team of the Season in 2014. The Lions have been linked with Ashley Cole but that move is unlikely at this point and Boden will hope to prove his worth if given a starting job.

Defensive-midfield: Amobi Okugo

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Amobi Okugo was acquired in a trade with the Philadelphia Union and he will look forward to being a regular in the Orlando lineup next season. At just 23, he has a bright future ahead of him. He has played 32 times in the past two seasons for the Union and will look to replicate that in 2015.

Defensive-midfield: Estrella

Estrella is just 19-years-old but he has the chance to become an integral part of a youthful looking squad with the Lions. He joined Orlando City last July and scored one goal in five games in their USL Pro campaign. Could be one to shine.

Right-midfield: Kevin Molino

Kevin Molino has been with Orlando City since 2011 and has made over 80 appearances for the club in that time. He has plenty of experience and will be looking forward to playing in Major League Soccer. At just 24, he has time to develop as a player and has the perfect platform to do so.

Left-midfield: Tony Cascio

It’s difficult to assess exactly who will start on the left side of midfield for Orlando City but at this stage, Tony Cascio looks the most likely option. The 24-year-old was selected with Orlando’s second pick in the Expansion Draft and will hope to nail down a regular berth in the team after only appearing six times for the Houston Dynamo last term.

Attacking-midfield: Kaka

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The star. Kaka will need to be the key man in this team every time he steps onto the field. The Brazilian playmaker is set to experience Major League Soccer for the first time and will hope to hit the ground running with so much expected of the first, and only current designated player signing.

Forward: Jairo Arrieta

Unless a star striker is signed, Jairo Arrieta is expected to be the man to score the goals in the Orlando team. He was selected in the sixth round of the Expansion Draft after netting five times in 23 appearances for the Columbus Crew in 2014.

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MLS Expansion Draft – Unprotected XI

By Sam Lingwood

With the 2014 MLS Expansion Draft almost upon us, we have a look at a potential lineup made of some of the best possible players left unprotected by their clubs for the draft.

New York City FC and Orlando City SC will pick ten players each in Wednesday’s Expansion Draft and we’ve picked out 11 that could find themselves on the move.

In order for this squad to be put together, a 4-1-4-1 formation has been selected. They may have been left unprotected but these players could prove valuable at one of the expansion franchises in 2015 and beyond.

MLS Expansion Draft – Unprotected XI

MLS Expansion Draft – Unprotected XI

Goalkeeper: Donovan Ricketts – Portland Timbers

The 2013 Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year, you can’t look past Donovan Ricketts. He brings experience and a safe pair of hands you can rely on. Has been in MLS since 2009 and has one MLS Cup title to his name.

Right-back: Dan Gargan – LA Galaxy

Another lad who has bundles of experience at MLS level, Dan Gargan is an intriguing option. A consistently solid level of performances last term make him a standout choice if New York City or Orlando City are looking for a right-back.

Centre-backs: AJ Soares & Carlos Salcedo – New England Revolution & Real Salt Lake

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The centre-back pairing are formidable. AJ Soares had a high standard of performances last year, and is at a great age to put in even better displays at the back in the hope he can push on and win the MLS Cup in 2015 with whoever he ends up with, so long as he stays in MLS. Carlos Salcedo is a young talent who didn’t feature consistently last season. However, he’s a great prospect and with the right experience around him, he will thrive in the scenario presented.

Left-back: Heath Pearce – Montreal Impact

Heath Pearce is another experienced defender to shepherd either team through their inaugral season in Major League Soccer. He has a great CV to boast off, and at 30 he still has some good years left in the tank. A sound left-back who will get the job done if selected.

Defensive-midfield: Hendry Thomas – FC Dallas

Previous teams include Wigan Athletic when they were in the English Premier League. Hendry Thomas is a consistently high performer for his home nation Honduras and he represented them once again at the 2014 World Cup. Injury restricted him to just 10 appearances for FC Dallas in 2014 but he is worth the gamble.

Right-midfield: Diego Fagundez – New England Revolution

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Diego Fagundez is picked to play on the right wing for this lineup. The 19-year-old playmaker has plenty of pace, talent and technique. Will be around for years and could be terrorising defences with one of the expansion franchises next season.

Central-midfield: Ben Speas – Columbus Crew

Another young lad, Ben Speas put in some good performances when selected last term and the 23-year-old will be hoping for more game time next season as he looks to build and push on to greater things with whoever he plays for in 2015.

Central-midfield: Peguy Luyindula – New York Red Bulls

Peguy Luyindula may be 35-years-old but the French playmaker showed that he can still be a difference-maker during the MLS Playoffs this season. Five goals and one assist in 26 regular appearances in 2014 make Luyindula an interesting option. He then netted three goals in five playoff games for the Red Bulls before they were knocked out by New England.

Left-midfield: Bobby Convey – New York Red Bulls

Bobby Convey offers some more EPL experience after spending five years with Reading before returning to MLS in 2009. At 31, he still has some talent left in the tank to help see either New York City FC and Orlando City succeed in their debut season.

Forward: Patrick Mullins – New England Revolution

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Patrick Mullins put in a great performance off the bench in the MLS Cup Final on Sunday and the rookie was impressively consistent in his first season. Looking forward to bigger and better things from this lad next year.

This looks like a good team, playing a solid formation and they would probably do well as a squad in MLS. It will be great to see who is chosen in Wednesday’s draft and how they all get on next year.

How well would the Unprotected XI do if they were an MLS side – how many of them will be selected on Wednesday?

What we learnt in Portland’s crucial win against the New York Red Bulls

Maximiliano Urruti stole the show with two goals for Portland Timbers as they came back to seal a 2-1 win over New York Red Bulls. Here are the key talking points to take away:

1. Bradley Wright-Phillips is lethal.

It may seem obvious, but New York Red Bulls simply cannot afford to lose Bradley Wright-Phillips if they want to have a successful season. Should he get injured, you fear for where they are going to get their spark from. He is the joint top goalscorer in MLS alongside Dom Dwyer of Sporting Kansas City following his penalty on Saturday. The English forwards have both notched 10 goals already this season. His link up play with Thierry Henry is improving by the week and the duo have plenty of goals in them.

Photo: Smiley N. Pool/AP

Wright-Phillips moved back to the top of the goalscoring chart alongside Dom Dwyer on Saturday night (Photo: Smiley N. Pool/AP)

2. A tale of two goalkeepers.

Donovan Ricketts of Portland Timbers had a great game between the sticks as he made numerous crucial saves to deny Bradley Wright-Phillips and Thierry Henry. On the flip side, New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles, who is usually so reliable, had another below par game, and a nightmare moment in conceding the first goal.

3. Maximiliano Urruti is a very exciting player.

The 23-year-old is certainly a player to watch. Not only did he bag himself two goals but he was lively all game, and caused real problems for the New York Red Bulls defence. You can see him going on to score a lot of goals this season if his form continues. That’s four in four for the Argentine and he was undoubtedly man of the match against New York.

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(Photo: Urruti is in fine form and looking dangerous for Portland)

New York Red Bulls have now lost three on the spin, and will face another stern test as they look to make amends when they travel to Sporting Kansas City on Tuesday, who sit in 2nd place in the Eastern Conference. The Red Bulls fall to 6th and must turn things around quickly.

Portland Timbers will hope to make it two wins out of two on Wednesday when they face Chivas USA, who sit at the bottom of the Western Conference. Portland are now unbeaten in five and will hope to move into a playoff spot with a win on Wednesday.

Highlights via MLS on YouTube: