Tony Cascio and Josh Ford have spent the past few seasons trying to establish themselves in Major League Soccer, but injuries have hampered both.
Ford has spent most of his first four seasons in the league dealing with injuries while trying to work his way into the goalkeeper rotation with Seattle Sounders FC to no avail. Cascio earned quality minutes with the Colorado Rapids during his rookie season in 2012, but spent most of 2013 on the bench. His 2014 season started off well, earning a starting spot with the Houston Dynamo while on loan from Colorado, but an ACL tear ended his season by April.
In 2015, Ford and Cascio will be reunited. Both will have fresh starts in a new city with a new club, a brand new club.
Orlando City Soccer Club has spent the past two weeks gearing up ahead of its debut season in MLS, looking for players to put around their crowned jewel: Kaka, the 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year. The strategy is clear: build a team that will be competitive right out of the gate while also building for the future.
With that in mind, they selected Cascio with their second of 10 picks in last Wednesday's Expansion Draft. Cascio immediately travelled to Orlando, where he has participated in events announcing the club's new sponsors, including Subway, Panasonic and Papa John's. He also spoke to the Orlando Sentinel about the next chapter of his career.
Eight days later, Orlando City added Ford through the Re-Entry Draft. One of the greatest goalkeepers in UConn history, he will likely start the season as the backup to two-time Goalkeeper of the Year Donovan Ricketts. He will likely fall to third string when Tally Hall, arguably the best goalkeeper in MLS since 2011, returns from a knee injury.
Cascio and Ford will be part of a loaded squad in 2015. Along with Kaka and the elite goalkeeping contingent, Orlando City has added 2013 MLS Cup MVP Aurelien Colin and rising MLS talents Amobi Okugo and Danny Mwanga. On Friday, the Lions announced that they are bringing Brek Shea, a young, talented winger, back to MLS. Shea has been in and out of the U.S. national team. He scored for the U.S. in July 2013 during a game at Rentschler Field in East Hartford.
There are still roster spots to fill, and Orlando City has the No. 1 pick in the upcoming MLS SuperDraft. That bodes well for the Lions, and possibly UConn fans as well.
I will (finally) be dropping my 1st MLS Draft Big Board Monday so look for that. GA class still a work in progress. Larin the top target.— Ives Galarcep (@SoccerByIves) December 19, 2014
Cyle Larin has scored 23 goals in two seasons for UConn while playing in a 4-2-3-1 formation, the same formation used by Orlando City head coach Adrian Heath. A 4-2-3-1 puts one central striker, often a tall, imposing figure (like the 6-foot-2-inch Larin) in front of a talented attacking midfielder (Kaka) with two skillful wingers (Shea and Cascio) playing service passes in from the wing.
If Larin chooses to leave UConn for MLS – and it is not a foregone conclusion that he will – it is very likely that Orlando uses the No. 1 pick on him, even after signing Honduran teenager Bryan Rochez to a big contract earlier this week. The GA class referred to in the tweet from Ives Galarcep refers to the Generation Adidas class, generally underclassmen and select seniors who leave school early to enter the draft. These players do not count against a team's salary cap, so they often make more than the league minimum.
UConn goalkeeper Andre Blake was a Generation Adidas player last year. He became the first goalkeeper and the second Husky (Chris Gbandi in 2001) ever selected first overall. If Larin is drafted by Orlando first overall, UConn would become the first school to ever have the No. 1 pick two years in a row.