2018 Key Transfers: Orlando City

With the 2018 MLS season drawing ever closer, we have been running through the standout transfers for all 23 teams over the course of the winter transfer window. There have been a number of key signings and significant trades which should ensure the new season is as exciting as ever before. Today we take a look at Orlando City and their key signings ahead of the 2018 MLS season…

To say it’s been a busy winter at Orlando City would be an understatement. The club have been one of the busiest in MLS since their 2017 campaign came to an end. Plenty have gone, and plenty more have come in as the Lions prepare for a new-look team this season. The outcome appears to be positive. Jason Kreis has revamped his midfield. They started last season with six wins from seven but then completely dropped off, eventually finishing 10th in the East with 39 points. They need to be more consistent and will hope their new-look squad can fire them into the playoffs for the first time. This will be their fourth MLS campaign, so it’s time to start delivering.

Key Signings

Sacha Kljestan: The big question this winter was: ‘Who is going to replace Kaka for Orlando?’ The answer is Sacha Kljestan. The Lions made a big move for the Red Bulls star, sending Tommy Redding and Carlos Rivas the other way. In Kljestan, Orlando have acquired the league’s leading assist provider from both the 2016 and 2017 campaigns. At 32, there are some concerns about his fitness but he has played 97 regular season games over the past three seasons in New York – an average of 32 games a season. This one makes a lot of sense.

Lamine Sane: The Lions made a major move to strengthen their defence with the signing of 30-year-old Senegalese international Sane. The centre-back joins from Werder Bremen, where he scored two goals in 40 appearances. Prior to moving to Germany, he enjoyed a seven-year stay with French side Bordeaux. He will bring vital experience to Orlando and should be a great addition to the backline, so long as he can adapt quickly.

Justin Meram: The signing of Meram has to be one of the best this offseason by any MLS side. The winger is dangerous out wide or in a more central playmaking position and knows the league inside out. All seven of his professional seasons to date have been spent in Columbus but he wanted a new challenge and got his wish as Orlando made a major move for him. They sent $1.05 million in allocation money to the Crew, as well as an international roster spot. Meram has 40 goals and 35 assists in 200 league and playoff appearances and should be a really good addition.

Josue Colman: Another exciting attacking addition for Orlando comes in the form of Paraguayan winger Colman. The 19-year-old joins as a Young DP and will hope to nail down a regular starting role under Kreis in 2018. He joins the club from Cerro Porteno in Paraguay’s top flight after helping them win the Clausura title last year. He will have the right players around him to ensure he fulfils his potential in Florida.

Oriol Rosell: Orlando have signed a great accompaniment to all their attacking moves in Uri Rosell. The former Sporting Kansas City midfielder joins from Sporting CP in Portugal. A total of $400,000 was sent to FC Dallas so that Orlando could secure the No.1 spot in the league allocation order. Rosell is a tough-tackling holding midfielder, who knows the league and at 25, should be a great addition.

Notable Departures

Kaka: Undoubtedly the biggest loss for the Lions this offseason was Kaka. The Brazilian legend retired after his three-year contract with the Lions ended. He failed to lead the Lions to the playoffs as he had hoped but he was an incredibly instrumental figure in and off the pitch, helping to shape Orlando’s identity in MLS and on the world map. He was a three-time MLS All-Star and recorded 24 goals and 22 assists in 75 games.

Giles Barnes: Another attacking player to move on is Barnes. The English-born Jamaican international has joined Liga MX side Club Léon after his option was declined. He scored three goals and added two assists in 34 games last season and leaves MLS after six seasons in which he represented Houston, Vancouver and Orlando.

Antonio Nocerino: The Italian midfielder had his option declined at the end of the 2017 season after failing to ever live up to his billing. He joined from AC Milan and was expected to impress but scored just one goal in 52 games and didn’t register a single assist in two seasons.

Carlos Rivas: Rivas was sent to the Red Bulls along with Tommy Redding in exchange for Kljestan. His departure released a Designated Player slot for the Lions but his dynamic play style might be missed. He played 78 games over three seasons with Orlando, scoring eight goals and picking up 13 assists. Those numbers aren’t DP level though and that’s why he’s been allowed to move on.

Cyle Larin: Larin’s departure couldn’t have gone less smooth. The Canadian striker travelled to Turkey in January to train with Besiktas, without the consent of Orlando. He was contracted to the Lions through 2019 but decided to ignore his contract and tried to force through a move to Besiktas. He eventually got his way as Orlando accepted at least $2.3 million from the Turkish giants. But bad feelings aside, Larin led the team in goals in each of his three seasons and his presence will likely be a big miss in attack.

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Gallery: Exclusive photos from the Sounders’ dramatic 1-1 draw with Orlando City on Wednesday

Seattle Sounders were seconds away from securing a fourth-straight MLS win at home by a 1-0 scoreline on Wednesday night. But then Scott Sutter headed in to earn Orlando a dramatic late point at CenturyLink Field.

Seattle will be devastated to not have taken all three points after standing firm for so long defensively, while carving out numerous openings themselves, with Joe Bendik putting in a great shift for Orlando.

Will Bruin opened the scoring in the 19th minute as fired a low and accurate drive into the bottom-left corner. But the visitors managed to stay in the game and waited for that one moment, which came in stoppage time as Kaka stepped up and delivered a dangerous cross from a free-kick, with Scott Sutter heading in to score his first MLS goal at a crucial time.

The result leaves Seattle outside the playoffs in the West, while Orlando sit in fourth in the East, six points off Toronto FC at the top of the standings.

Check out exclusive photos from Wednesday’s game below, courtesy of MLSGB photographers Denise McCooey and Paul Kahl.

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MLS Preview and Prediction: Orlando City vs Toronto FC

Competition: Major League Soccer – Orlando City vs. Toronto FC

Venue: Citrus Bowl – Wednesday, August 24 – 19:30 BST (00:30 ET)

Match Odds: Orlando City 13/10 – Draw 12/5 – Toronto 15/8

Match Preview

Orlando City welcome Toronto to Citrus Bowl on Wednesday night as these two sides play out a game in hand.

If Orlando avoid defeat in this tie they will move up into 6th in the Eastern Conference but will have played a game more than DC in doing so.

Jason Kreis will be relatively pleased with a point last time out against Colorado who have proved to be tough opposition this season. However, worryingly for Orlando, they have won just once in their last nine outings.

Orlando won the last meeting between these sides at the Citrus Bowl in dramatic fashion just two months ago. A late Kaka penalty saw them take all three points and they will be hoping for a repeat of that victory to keep their challenge for a playoff place in the balance.

New York Red Bulls vs Orlando City

Toronto FC come into this one battling at the top of the Eastern Conference. They are in second place but can go top with a win. This is a great opportunity for them to start their push for a top spot finish in the East but there is still a lot of work to do.

Greg Vanney will be confident of Toronto’s chances in this one, they have scored at least twice in their last four ties against Orlando in all competitions.

Toronto have been in incredible form of late, they’re unbeaten in their last six games, winning five. This will be tough tie away from home but they’re the inform team.

This is one of three remaining away games for Toronto this season, a win here will put them in a really strong position to go on and finish top in the East.

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Team News

Orlando City have six injury concerns heading into this tie as Pedro Ribeiro, Harrison Heat, Rafael Ramos and Cristian Higuita are all out, while Kevin Molino and Matias Perez Garcia are doubts.

Toronto could be without seven through injury as Clint Irwin and Mark Bloom are out, while Benoit Cheyrou, Will Johnson, Eriq Zavaleta, Justin Morrow and Daniel Lovitz are all doubtful for this tie.

Key Points

Orlando City’s last five: D/W/L/D/D

Toronto’s last five: W/W/W/D/W

Key Stat: Form – Toronto are unbeaten in their last six, picking up 16 points out of a possible 18.

Key Player: Cyle Larin – Orlando’s goalscorer has netted 12 in 23 games this season and his teammates will be hoping they can supply him so he can come up with the goods to propel them to three points here.

New York Red Bulls vs Orlando City Cyle Larin

Score Prediction

Orlando City 2-2 Toronto – Despite Orlando City’s poor form over recent weeks they have the ability to frustrate Toronto here. A draw isn’t the worst result for either side but both will be desperate for a win here, which ultimately could cause them to make mistakes.

MLS Preview and Prediction: MLS All-Stars vs Arsenal

Competition: 2016 MLS All-Star Game – MLS All-Stars vs. Arsenal FC

Stadium: Avaya Stadium, San Jose – Thursday, July 28 – 19:30 ET (00:30 BST)

Live Coverage: Sky Sports 2 HD in the UK – ESPN in the USA.

Match Preview

The 2016 MLS All-Star game takes place on Thursday night as the best in MLS take on Premier League side Arsenal at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, California.

The All-Star game has become a real showpiece event for Major League Soccer and also provides a really tough preseason test for some of the top sides in Europe.

This year, Arsenal will try and beat the MLS All-Stars in what is their first ever appearance in the game. The Gunners are the eighth Premier League side to take on Major League Soccer’s finest talent.

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Last season’s All-Star game saw the MLS All-Stars beat Tottenham 2-1 in Colorado, thanks to early goals from Kaka and David Villa. Both of those stars are against in the squad this year, along with several other global stars.

San Jose Earthquakes head coach Dominic Kinnear will take control of the All-Stars for Thursday’s game – the second time he has been tasked with the job having done so in 2009 when MLS lost on penalties to Everton.

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The All-Stars are looking for a third-straight win, following 2-1 victories over Bayern Munich and Spurs over the past two campaigns and will now be fully focused on adding Arsenal to that list.

Arsene Wenger’s men have only played one preseason game so far this year, drawing 1-1 away at Lens and are up for a real test against MLS stars at peak fitness in the middle of their domestic season.

The Gunners’ last trip to the USA ended in defeat as the New York Red Bulls sealed a 1-0 friendly win in July 2014 and they will be hoping for more success this time around.

Arsenal don’t have first-team stars such as Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny as they are all still recovering from international tournaments, but there is still a talented squad at Wenger’s disposal for Thursday’s clash.

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Team News

MLS All-Star squad: Defenders Matt Besler and Liam Ridgewell have both been ruled out of the All-Star game through injury.

GK – David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union)

DF: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), Laurent Ciman (Montreal Impact), Andrew Farrell (New England Revolution), Keegan Rosenberry (Philadelphia Union), Jelle Van Damme (LA Galaxy), Brandon Vincent (Chicago Fire), Kendall Waston (Vancouver Whitecaps FC)

MF: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Mauro Diaz (FC Dallas), Giovani dos Santos (LA Galaxy), Jermaine Jones (Colorado Rapids), Kaka (Orlando City SC), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Andrea Pirlo (New York City FC), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC), Ignacio Piatti (Montreal Impact)

FW: Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Didier Drogba (Montreal Impact), Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC), Cyle Larin (Orlando City SC), David Villa (New York City FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

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Arsenal squad: Several star players have not made the trip, as they are being given extended rest time following their participation in Euro 2016.

GK: Petr Cech, David Ospina, Emiliano Martinez

DF: Hector Bellerin, Krystian Bielik, Calum Chambers, Mathieu Debuchy, Kieran Gibbs, Rob Holding, Nacho Monreal

MF: Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin, Mohamed Elneny, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Chris Willock, Jack Wilshere, Granit Xhaka, Gedion Zelalem

FW: Chuba Akpom, Joel Campbell, Alex Iwobi, Theo Walcott

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Key Points

MLS All-Star’s last five: L/W/L/W/W

Arsenal’s last five preseason games: L/W/W/W/W

Key Stat: The MLS All-Stars have not kept a clean sheet in any of the last eight games, conceding a total of 19 goals over the last eight years.

Key Player: Kaka – The Brazilian superstar will captain the All-Stars for the second-straight season on Thursday night. He led by example last year, scoring a penalty on his way to being named MVP. If the Arsenal defence fails to keep Kaka quiet, they could be in trouble.

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Score Prediction

MLS All-Stars 3-2 Arsenal – Goals are to be expected on Thursday night in what should be a memorable contest. Arsenal are not at full strength but do have a strong enough squad to expect to win this game. However, the best in MLS have proven to be stiff opponents over the last two seasons, beating Bayern Munich and Tottenham. A third-straight All-Star win is expected here.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Orlando City vs San Jose Earthquakes

Competition: Major League Soccer – Orlando City vs. San Jose Earthquakes

Venue: Camping World Stadium – Saturday, June 18 – 19:30 ET (00:30 BST)

Match Odds: Orlando City 13/10 – Draw 23/10 – San Jose Earthquakes 21/10

Match Preview

Orlando City and San Jose Earthquakes go head-to-head at Camping World Stadium on Saturday as Major League Soccer returns following a two-week international break.

Orlando City have only won once in their last nine MLS matches, which is quite dreadful considering they are expected to challenge for a playoff place this year.

With Kaka expected back, as well as Cyle Larin, Orlando will want to kick start a run of form that can send them into the postseason for the first time.

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They will need to harness their strong home support for the rest of the campaign and Saturday’s clash with San Jose offers a good chance to pick up three important points.

The Quakes have had a few rough seasons but now they have a good chance at making the playoffs, as Dominic Kinnear has built a very good squad.

Key man Chris Wondolowski is still away with the USMNT, while pacey forward Innocent Emeghara is still on his way back from injury, so San Jose are a little light in the final third ahead of this one.

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The next five games could be crucial for the Quakes as they host LA Galaxy, Toronto FC and FC Dallas in the coming weeks. They must continue to pick up points on a consistent basis if they are to secure a top six finish come October.

This will just the second meeting between the two sides. Last year’s clash in San Jose saw the pair share the spoils after a 1-1 draw in a game that saw Chris Wondolowski net his 100th MLS goal.

Team News

Orlando City will be without Pedro Ribeiro, Darwin Ceren and Rafael Ramos through injury. Kaka should return from the injury that ruled him out of Brazil’s Copa America squad, while Cyle Larin os also back having only been involved in friendlies while away on international duty.

San Jose Earthquakes are missing Marc Pelosi, Clarence Goodson and Mark Sherrod through injury. Innocent Emeghara and Matheus Silva are both doubtful. The worry is that Chris Wondolowski is still away with the USA and he is unlikely to be back in time for Saturday’s game. Alberto Quintero, Anibal Godoy, Kip Colvey and Simon Dawkins have all returned from international duty, though.

Key Points

Orlando City’s last five: D/L/W/D/D

San Jose Earthquakes’ last five: L/W/D/D/L

Key Stat: Orlando City are now unbeaten in their last 13 home matches in MLS.

Key Player: Cyle Larin – The Canadian forward has been in fine form this season and has become a key part of this Orlando side. His presence will be key on Saturday yet again.

MLS: NYCFC vs. Orlando Cyle Larin

Score Prediction

Orlando City 2-0 San Jose Earthquakes – San Jose likely to suffer without star striker Chris Wondolowski, who will be sorely missed. That absence will make a tricky away fixture even more of a challenge and we expect Orlando to win this one as a result, with Adrian Heath’s side looking in good shape ahead of this one.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Orlando City vs Philadelphia Union

Competition: Major League Soccer – Orlando City vs. Philadelphia Union

Venue: Citrus Bowl – Wednesday, May 25 – 19:30 ET (00:30 BST)

Match Odds: Orlando City 1/1 – Draw 5/2 – Philadelphia Union 13/5

Match Preview

Orlando City play host to Philadelphia Union on Wednesday night in the first of two games for both Eastern Conference sides’ this week.

Orlando have managed only one win in their last seven, with their win against Montreal Impact last weekend ending a run that saw Orlando spiral down the Eastern Conference. However, that victory saw them get back into the playoff slots and they will now be looking to kick on again.

With players like Julio Baptista, Cyle Larin, Antonio Nocerino and Kaka all looking to make an impact, there should be no reason for Orlando to not make the playoffs this season.

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Philadelphia Union are currently the best team in the Eastern Conference and have the best defence as well – an impressive turnaround when you consider their poor form last season.

Much of their success this season has been down to the goal scoring of CJ Sapong. His form hasn’t gone unnoticed, with a potential call-up to the USMNT being spoken about.

The Union’s form this season would be even more impressive if the Colorado Rapids weren’t top of the Supporters’ Shield standings at this stage, but their feats should still be applauded to this point.

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That being said, Philadelphia will definitely have their eyes on the Eastern Conference title this year, with a playoff place looking nailed on.

This will be the second meeting between the two sides this season. Philadelphia won 2-1 in the first clash thanks to a late Tranquillo Barnetta free-kick. The Lions have yet to beat the Union in three attempts.

Team News

Orlando City are without Pedro Ribeiro, Darwin Ceren, Seb Hines and Rafael Ramos all through injury.

Philadelphia Union are still missing Maurice Edu, who is recovering from a stress fracture. Anderson is still a doubt with a right shoulder dislocation.

Key Points

Orlando City’s last five: L/D/D/L/W

Philadelphia Union’s last five: W/D/D/D/W

Key Stat: Orlando are undefeated in their last 12 home matches in MLS.

Key Player: Kaka – The former World Player of the Year turned on the magic last weekend against Montreal Impact where he assisted both goals. He’s the maverick of this Orlando side and will be extremely important on Wednesday night once again.

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Score Prediction

Orlando City 2-2 Philadelphia Union – Orlando’s unbeaten record at home will be hard for Philly to end. Yet the Union are unbeaten in their last five and look in great shape. This one has draw written all over it, though there should be some goals.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Orlando City vs Montreal Impact

Competition: Major League Soccer – Orlando City vs. Montreal Impact

Venue: Camping World Stadium – Saturday, May 21 – 19:30 ET (00:30 BST)

Match Odds: Orlando 6/5 – Draw 12/5 – Montreal 9/4

Match Preview

Orlando City welcome Montreal Impact to Camping World Stadium on Saturday night in what is a key Eastern Conference clash between sides at either end of the table.

Neither side has been in good form of late, though Montreal still sit second in the East heading into the weekend, five points ahead of Orlando down in eighth.

The Lions are enduring a six-game winless run and Adrian Heath knows his side must starting producing results now.

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They fell 2-1 at Orlando last weekend and have not won since April 3. One positive is that they have yet to lose at home this season and will be confident of taking at least a point from Saturday’s clash, although that wouldn’t help their cause much.

Montreal arrive in Florida off the back of four consecutive draws in MLS. They had to settle for a 1-1 draw with Philadelphia last weekend and have not won since mid-April.

They do remain just one point off the top of the Eastern Conference but need to start winning regularly again if they are to maintain their charge.

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The Impact play three of their next four games at home after Saturday’s trip to Orlando and are in good position to kick on and challenge at the top end of the standings.

This will be the first of three regular season meetings between the two sides this season. They met three times last year, with each side posting 1-1-1 record’s over that stretch of games.

Team News

Orlando have three injury concerns heading into the game. Pedro Ribeiro and Darwin Ceren remain sidelined through injuries, while Seb Hines is a doubt and may not feature.

Montreal will be sweating on the fitness of Didier Drogba as he is listed as doubtful ahead of Saturday’s game. Andres Romero, Cameron Porter and Donny Toia are all out.

Key Points

Orlando City’s last five: D/L/D/D/L

Montreal Impact’s last five: L/D/D/D/D

Key Stat: Early goals – There were nine goals in the three meetings between these sides last season, with seven of those scored in the first 45 minutes.

Key Player: Kaka – The Brazilian playmaker will look to inspire his team to victory in what is an important home game. He has two goals and two assists this season and they have all come at home so he will look to be among the goals here.

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Score Prediction

Orlando City 2-2 Montreal Impact – Goals are expected here between two attacking sides that will be out for three points on Saturday evening. The hosts are tough to break down at home and haven’t lost in front of their own fans since last August. But Montreal are also difficult to beat and so a high-scoring draw could be on the cards here.

MLS Fantasy Focus: Make the most of the DGW ahead of Round 10

By Jamie Dawe and Sam Martin

The headlines from Round 9 have all been about Kei Kamara and Federico Higuain’s mid-game row. Their exchange of words over a penalty that would have secured Kamara his hat trick – but was eventually taken by Higuain – is a story that has travelled around the world. It marred an incredible eight-goal game, but in this week’s Fantasy Focus, we promise to focus on the football being played, not the spats off the ball!

Round 9 Review 

The Good:

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The MAPFRE Stadium, home to Columbus Crew, undoubtedly provided us with the game of the weekend, where an incredible eight goals were scored in the 4-4 draw between the Crew and Montreal Impact. It had been a disappointing start to the season for Columbus, but two goals from both Kei Kamara ($11.1) and Federico Higuaín ($10.5) put Columbus 4-1 up with just over 30 minutes to play. Remarkably, the Impact came back from the dead to salvage a point thanks to Ignacio Piatti ($10.6), Didier Drogba ($11.8) and a last minute goal from Dominic Oduro ($7.6). We have once again entered the familiar territory of Piatti gaining the most points of any player this week – with an astounding 18! While Montreal may top the Eastern Conference, Colorado Rapids are the shock leaders of the Supporters’ Shield standings, following a 1-0 home victory against an equally impressive Real Salt Lake. Jermaine Jones ($8.2) netted the goal that was the difference between the two sides to earn his side three crucial points and further cement his place as one of the league’s top players even after his unceremonious exit from New England. Robbie Keane ($11.7) may have been sidelined with injuries for most of this campaign, but the Irishman netted a brace in the Galaxy’s fifth win of the campaign, picking up 13 points in his 59 minutes on the field. Furthermore, it couldn’t possibly be a good weekend without Seattle’s Jordan Morris ($8.3) getting a mention. The forward has now scored in four straight matches as Seattle won their fourth-straight home game against San Jose on Saturday.

The Bad:

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The only red card of the weekend was collected by Orlando’s Cristian Higuita ($6.7), who was sent off late on in his side’s 1-1 draw with New York Red Bulls. OCSC are now on a run of five games without a win and with star turns Kaka ($10.8) and Cyle Larin ($9.2) in their side – it is fair to expect more from the men in purple. Meanwhile, Dallas failed to score and lost for the third consecutive outing. It has to be worrying the Texans with forward Maximiliano Urruti ($8.5) needing to regain the form that got him three goals in the opening four MLS games. Portland Timbers’ winless away run continued after defeat at Vancouver, while Sporting Kansas City also suffered a defeat away to Houston Dynamo. SKC are now winless in six after winning four of their opening five. Designated Players Benny Feilhaber ($10.9) and Graham Zusi ($10.1) will be expected to produce their finest form in the coming weeks, starting with this week’s DGW.

Round 10 Preview

Double Gameweek Must-Haves:

Jermaine Jones ($8.2):

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The Rapids are in tremendous form and it was sparked by Jermaine Jones’ entrance to the team. Fresh from his contract dispute with the Revs and his six-match ban for making repeated physical contact with referee Mark Geiger, the fire is very much within Jones’ play. Thrust into a more attacking role, he’s playing as well as he ever has – even at the age of 34.

Andrew Wenger ($7.2):

Houston have finally returned to some sort of form with a win over SKC and Wenger was instrumental in achieving the victory. Fixtures against San Jose and Real Salt Lake aren’t easy – but they’re certainly not the most difficult cards to be dealt at this point in the season. I would be shocked if Wenger didn’t pick up 10 points across the two games this week. If you don’t fancy Wenger, teammate Alex ($6.1) is bound to pick up a solid number of points at a cheap price.

Fanendo Adi ($10.3):

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The pinpoint in the Timbers’ MLS Cup winning attack, Adi is in fine form and with Diego Valeri ($10.5) pulling the strings behind him, he looks set to keep firing in goal after goal. He may be whisked away for international duty with Nigeria in Round 12, but he will be back in a flash – unlike other forward options like Giles Barnes ($8.5) and Chris Wondolowski ($10.7), who will exiting the league for the Copa America Centenario.

Maynor Figueroa ($6.7):

This is a risky one. Dallas may’ve lost three on the trot, but the former Wigan defender has performed solidly throughout and is still garnering plenty of bonus points. If Dallas were to keep a clean sheet in either of their two home games this week against the Sounders or the Timbers, it would be a shame to miss out on almost certain double figures. It’s also hard to ignore that Dallas are the only side to play both their games at home this week and Figueroa represents a solid pick.

Which players will you transfer in for Round 10’s DGW?

MLS Preview and Prediction: Orlando City vs New England Revolution

Competition: Major League Soccer – Orlando City SC vs. New England Revolution

Venue: Orlando Citrus Bowl – Sunday, April 17 – 15:30 ET (20:30 BST)

Match Odds: Orlando 23/20 – Draw 5/2 – New England Revolution 9/4

Match Preview

Orlando City host New England Revolution in an all-Eastern Conference clash on Sunday afternoon with the sides separated by just one point heading into the contest.

Orlando come into this one off the back of their 2-1 away loss against Philadelphia Union so will be looking to bounce back here following their first defeat of the campaign.

The Lions sit third in the Eastern Conference and were looking like a strong side until last week’s loss. Fans will be expecting them to mount a strong challenge for the playoffs this season so continuing their strong run of home form is essential.

Orlando are yet to beat New England Revolution, drawing once and losing once in their two meetings last year. However, Adrian Heath will be optimistic they can take all three points this time around.

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New England Revolution have had an inconsistent start to the 2016 regular season but are sitting fourth in the East after losing just one game from six so far.

This fixture last season ended in a 2-2 draw and so the Revs will know just how difficult a place the Orlando Citrus Bowl is to visit.

New England come into this one off the back of their 1-1 draw with Toronto last time out. Jay Heaps will be hoping his side can build upon what was a good point last time out and possibly take all three here as they look to climb further up the Eastern Conference.

The Revs will need to tighten up their defence, an issue Heaps will have been addressing, as they have conceded eight goals in their six outings so far.

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Team News

Orlando City have four injury concerns. Conor Donovan, Cyle Larin and Tommy Redding are expected to miss out while Cristian Higuita is a doubt. Julio Baptista came on for the final minute last week but will be hoping to make his full debut in front of the home crowd on Sunday.

New England Revolution have just the one injury concern as Darrius Barnes is a doubt heading into this tie.

Key Points

Orlando City’s last five: D/D/W/W/L

New England Revolution’s last five: D/L/D/W/D

Key Stat: Fortress – Orlando are unbeaten in their last nine home outings in Major League Soccer.

Key Player: Kaka – The Orlando captain has netted one in his two appearances this season and there is added pressure on him to provide here in the absence of in-form forward Cyle Larin. Kaka can turn any game in an instant and will hope to perform as he did in Orlando’s excellent 4-1 home win over Portland two weeks ago.

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Score Prediction

Orlando City 2-2 New England Revolution – A repeat of last season’s scoreline between these two at Orlando Citrus Bowl could be on the cards. There isn’t much to split them by coming into this tie and we expect it to be that way throughout, although goals are to be expected.

MLS Fantasy Focus: Who should you be looking at for Week 5?

By Jamie Dawe and Sam Martin

The weekend which was used to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the first game of Major League Soccer brought us everything we have come to expect from this ever-developing league. There were goals, star names shining through and a whole host of colourful kits on display. This season is already turning into an MLS classic and it’s only just begun.

Week 4 Review

The Good:

It’s fair to say that the Seattle Sounders have performed well below expectations so far this season, having lost their first three fixtures of the season. However, US international Clint Dempsey ($10.9), fresh from scoring for his country against Guatemala, netted a crucial goal to give his side their first win of the season over Montreal last weekend. Meanwhile, ‘super sub’ Adam Jahn ($5.5) netted six minutes after coming on the field to rescue San Jose Earthquakes a late point at home to winless DC United. Orlando City defender Seb Hines ($7.6) opened the scoring in his side’s convincing 4-1 victory against MLS Cup holders Portland Timbers. The defender earned a total of 9 points to help his side climb to the top of the Eastern Conference and remain unbeaten. Trinidadian teammate Kevin Molino ($8.1) won and converted a penalty late in the game, earning 12 points to rank him amongst the highest point-scorers of the week. However, the standout scorer from Orlando’s game and undoubtedly the player of the week was Kaka ($10.7), who contributed two assists and a goal on his way to picking up 16 points in his first appearance of the season.

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The Bad:

Toronto midfielder Benoit Cheyrou ($7.2) was treated to an early bath as he picked up two yellow cards within the first 13 minutes of his side’s away defeat to the Rapids. This was the fastest red card of the season so far and a feat I’m sure Cheyrou won’t be planning to repeat. He certainly won’t be repeating it in Week 5 as he will be suspended for the game away to the struggling Revs. There were a total of four red cards this week, with Philadelphia’s Warren Creavalle ($5.7), the Red Bulls’ Felipe Martins ($8.3) and Vancouver’s Matias Laba ($7.3) all leaving their team down to ten men. No team that was reduced to ten men managed to score this week – leaving a stark reminder of the dangers of going a man down. It was a bad day for the Portland defence in general, who conceded four goals away to Orlando, so any fans of debutant Jack Barmby ($6.9), may feel slightly disappointed at his performance.

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Week 5 Preview

The Must Buys:

As has already been mentioned, Kaka ($10.7) has come back from injury with a bang – so anyone with a bit of leeway in their budget should invest in the former Ballon d’Or winner before his price skyrockets. Joao Plata ($9.4) is still incredible value for money at under $10 and is the highest scoring striker so far this season with 41 points – an average of over 10 points per game. Daniel Steres ($5.2) is also proving fantastic value for money as the 25 year old is establishing himself as a regular in the LA Galaxy defence. He has gone some way to filling the enormous void (literally and metaphorically) that the departure of 6ft 7ins Omar Gonzalez left.

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The Must Sells:

The New York Red Bulls have lost even more players to injury and now Felipe to suspension so things aren’t getting any easier for Jesse Marsch. It might be best to avoid having Red Bulls players in your side for the next few weeks as I would be surprised if they put in any high scoring performances. It’s over to Bradley Wright-Phillips ($10.8) and Sacha Kljestan ($11.2) to prove me wrong. Revs midfielder Lee Nguyen ($11.0) also needs to start proving that he is worth that vast sum of money – as Kaka looks much the better option for a team’s midfield and he even comes at a cheaper price at this point.

Who will you be bringing into your MLS Fantasy team for Week 5?