|Photo: OSJ Staff|
By Mike Gramajo
SANFORD, Fla. — After finishing unbeaten at the Disney Pro Soccer Classic, Orlando City will now shift their focus on the upcoming college friendlies before they kickoff the 2014 USL Pro season.
“We gave the lads three-four days off, too many of the guys were carrying around knocks, but today’s training was very lively,” head coach Adrian Heath told the OSJ after Wednesday’s practice. “We now have two and half weeks to prepare for the season, and we’ve done a lot of good stuff to prepare.”
The Lions kickoff their slate of college friendlies when they welcome the Florida International University Panthers to the Seminole Soccer Complex on Saturday at 3:00 p.m.
Checkout some of the latest news occurring in Orlando City preseason:
Chin, Rusin and Burke injury updates
After getting on the scoresheet within the first minute as a second-half substitute during last Saturday’s Disney Classic showdown vs. the New York Red Bulls, Dennis Chin saw an early exit after what appeared to be a hamstring injury.
Chin, however, was seen training with the squad during Wednesday’s practice, even participating in every drill Heath had for the squad.
“Nearly everything was precautionary, Corey Hertzog also came off with a kick in the calf, and we didn’t want to aggravate, he’ll be back in training,” added Heath on other players who picked up minor injuries. “Bradford Rusin, who’s had a few knocks in the last 8-9 days is coming through and might see playing time on Saturday.”
Defender Bryan Burke, who picked up a season-ending injury last season, was still training apart from the team, partaking in mostly routine stretches and dribbling around with the ball. Heath did confirm that Burke has gone through his last stage of rehabilitation, but did not have a timeframe on his return.
“Bryan had has final bit of rehab yesterday (Tuesday),” said Heath on Burke. “We’re hopeful that he’ll get himself fit, and push on.”
Heath to speak with Sporting KC regarding loans
It’s that time again, where Sporting Kansas City (Orlando City’s MLS affiliate) will send players on-loan, only this time two Sporting KC players will be arriving to Central Florida instead of four.
During the offseason, Sporting KC added new USL Pro franchise Oklahoma City Energy FC as their USL-affiliate. With that offseason partnership in place, SKC will have to divide their four players, meaning Orlando City and Oklahoma City will each acquire two players on-loan.
The arrival of the Sporting players? Heath will be speaking with them this week.
“We’re hoping to have a better idea later this week,” said Heath. “I’m going to speak with Peter (Vermes) and hopefully get an answer when.”
College Friendly outcome won’t dictate starting XI
With the plethora of MLS clubs now out of the way for the Lions, Orlando City’s upcoming coming college friendlies won’t necessarily dictate Heath’s starting XI come March 22, but will serve as a chance for players to get playing time.
“The games with MLS clubs will give us a better idea and reflection on how the best XI will be than the college friendlies, and that’s not being disrespectful to the college teams,” said Heath. “It will give us an opportunity to give more minutes to people who haven’t played that much.”
Ustruck is now team administrator
Orlando City fan favorite and veteran Erik Ustruck was cut from Orlando City after the 2013 season, but that didn’t mean his business with the club was coming to an end.
Head coach Adrian Heath told the OSJ that Ustruck will now serve as the team administrator
“He’s going to be working with the administrating side of the club,” said Heath. “He will be the new team administrator, so everything with players off the field, he’ll be in charge of that. He’s seen that experience in the USL and with the (Houston) Dynamo, it’s a great start for him.”
How do you think Orlando City’s preseason is going so far? Which player do you think will impress once the USL Pro season kicks off? Do any of the injuries concern you as a fan?
Share your thoughts below.