New York City FC and Orlando City SC beefed up their squads in the expansion draft on Wednesday, Dec. 10 and also executed a few trades. However, the MLS season doesn't start until March, so they both have plenty of time to add more players.
The two teams each have a couple of positional needs which will be examined in this piece.
Orlando City SC
The most important trade for Orlando was to acquire Aurelien Collin and Amobi Okugo which gives them two proven MLS players in key positions. They now respectively have an established center back and a player who can play as a holding midfielder or on defense.
|Orlando City SC Roster|
|Tally Hall||Luke Boden||Tony Cascio||Bryan Rochez|
|Donovan Ricketts||Aurelien Collin||Darwin Ceren||Jairo Arrieta|
|Tommy Redding||Estrela||Danny Mwanga|
|Tyler Turner||Harrison Heath||Pedro Ribeiro|
|Rafael Ramos||Kevin Molino|
Orlando is set with their goalkeepers. Tally Hall will be injured for the first few weeks of the season, but that's why the club picked up Donovan Ricketts in the expansion draft. The Jamaican is an experienced, formidable MLS starter even as he approaches 40.
Heath Pearce is a valuable addition, but he struggles in the air and with his tackling, so Orlando's brass could sign an upgrade to play alongside Collin. Youngsters like Tommy Redding could eventually become starters, but for now it may be best to try and find someone else.
Eighteen-year-old Tyler Turner and Rafael Ramos can both play on the right, so that position seems to be sorted. Meanwhile, Luke Boden has been a stalwart on the left flank, so head coach Adrian Heath may rely on him. However, signing another player for depth purposes would be a smart idea.
Okugo and Kaka will respectively provide the defensive and attacking duties in midfield. Estrela and Darwin Ceren will probably help Okugo, while Kevin Molino, Tony Cascio and Lewis Neal add some depth. The flanks could be boosted further by Brek Shea, who according to Paul Tenorio of the Orlando Sentinel is on the verge of signing with the club.
Honduran striker Bryan Rochez inked a designated player contract with Orlando, per MLSSoccer.com. That's a big move, since Jairo Arrieta is an inconsistent scorer. Also, Danny Mwanga and Pedro Ribeiro are going to be long-term projects and are still inexperienced.
New York City FC
The Frank Lampard saga continues to dominate New York City FC. The on-loan midfielder has performed admirably with Manchester City so manager Manuel Pellegrini wants to retain him, per the BBC. If Lampard ends up remaining in England for a longer period of time, that will alter NYCFC's offseason plans.
|New York City FC Roster|
|Ryan Meara||Jeb Brovsky||Mehdi Ballouchy||Patrick Mullins|
|Josh Saunders||Jason Hernandez||Matt Dunn||Omar Salgado|
|Akira Fitzgerald||George John||Ned Grabavoy||Tony Taylor|
|Kwame Watson-Siriboe||Andrew Jacobson||David Villa|
|Josh Williams||Frank Lampard|
|Chris Wingert||Thomas McNamara|
New York City's goalkeepers may not have as much collective experience as Orlando's but are still three solid shot-stoppers who can be capable starters in MLS.
The projected back line would probably have either Josh Williams or Jeb Brovsky at right-back and Chris Wingert on the left. Jason Hernandez and George John would most likely be the starting center backs. Brovsky, Wingert and Williams are solid, but centrally, there are worries.
John had season-ending knee surgery in the summer and has suffered chronic injuries for a few years. However, if the ex-Washington Husky can stay healthy, he'd be an exceptional player for New York City.
Hernandez has played in 218 MLS regular-season games but was a rotation option with the San Jose Earthquakes. The 31-year-old isn't terrible, but considering John's injury problems and the lack of depth, NYCFC has to sign at least one more center back.
Lampard is clearly NYC's best midfielder, but his potential absence in the opening match will create a dilemma for head coach Jason Kreis.
Mehdi Ballouchy was a reserve with the Vancouver Whitecaps last season after recovering from severe knee injuries when he was with the Earthquakes. Ned Grabavoy and Andrew Jacobson are the only other options to start in the heart of the midfield.
Thomas McNamara tore his ACL after a promising start to his rookie campaign in 2014, but he was electric in an attacking role with Chivas USA. That's another area in which NYCFC is thin, so midfielders have to be on the wish list.
David Villa is the clear No. 1 striker in the squad, with Patrick Mullins and Tony Taylor fighting for the second spot. Omar Salgado is rumored to be sold to an international club soon, per the MLS website, so he won't be a part of the team by the time March rolls around.
New York City has more work to do compared to Orlando, but both sides have plenty of available international slots, so there should be several moves coming down the pipe.