We sat down to talk with Ben Miller over at The Mane Land this week to chat about the upcoming match with Orlando City. Ben was gracious enough to answer our questions, and you can find my answers to his questions here.
1) So, you’ve had one full year of the Nani experience, what kind of teammate has he been, and how has he shaped the club?
I think he’s been an excellent teammate. He’s the club captain and based off his first season here it’s easy to see why. He typically does a good job of leading on the field and he seems respected and well liked. He’s been more than willing to try and create goals for others and do whatever is best for the team as opposed to looking out for himself first and foremost. Its difficult to say how much he’s shaped the club as a whole but he’s definitely given this team a dimension of talent that it didn’t have before. Overall he’s been a wonderful addition and hopefully will be someone to build around for a few years.
2) You have some really good players on your roster, including one of my personal favorites in Tesho Akindele. What’s gone wrong this season and why aren’t Orlando better than the sum of their parts?
I wasn’t sure about it when the team signed him in the offseason but boy do I love me some Tesho! His above expected return helped keep the team chasing a playoff spot long after it should have been dead and buried and I certainly expect to see him back next year. One of the biggest problems for this team is personnel. The Lions are absolutely loaded at defensive midfield with Uri Rosell, Cristian Higuita, Will Johnson, Sebas Mendez, and Carlos Ascues, but are very short when it comes to a #10 style attacking midfielder. The acquisition of Mauricio Pererya should have helped, as he’s the closest thing Orlando has to a #10. But it still wasn’t always enough to create goalscoring chances.
Orlando looked the most dangerous when playing the ball out in wide areas, particularly through Ruan (who has been superb), but if teams were able to shut down the flanks then the Lions struggled mightily. The defense was vastly improved from last season but the goals at the other end simply weren’t coming enough. I think if James O’Connor is given another offseason then this team will look very different, especially through the middle of the field.
3) Aside from people like us who have to cover the game, why should anyone watch this game? What are the major storylines for your side coming in, and what are you specifically looking for?
For me personally I’m just looking for the team to get a win at home to close out the year. I think that’s one of the bigger storylines for us and another would probably have to be getting a look at who will still be around this team next year. Fans will want to see guys like Pererya, Nani, Chris Mueller, and Benji Michel have good games and if they do it’ll most likely leave a much better taste in people’s mouths than the sputtering chase for a playoff spot did. Orlando also hasn’t exactly had a great home record this year so closing the season out the right way in front of the home fans would definitely do the team some good.