U-23s: First Open Tryouts successful
Several players identified as potential signees for U23s squadThe Orlando City Under 23s held their first-ever open tryout this past weekend, having over 140 players participating in the trials. The tryouts were held at the Seminole Soccer Complex in Sanford, Fla. on both Saturday and Sunday. A cast of coaches oversaw the U23s tryouts, with players trying to make enough of an impression to get a call back.
The final day had players participating in 11-on-11 scrimmages, with the entire coaching staff getting one final evaluation before it was all over.
Orlando City Midfielder James O’Connor was one of those coaches who helped U23 Head Coach Joe Avallone evaluate the talent.
“It’s been a really good experience to come out here and give my input,” he said. “I think the level of commitment and fitness of the players has been really solid. With so many players it can be tough, but we try to evaluate everyone as best as we can. In the end it’s up to Joe (Avallone) to determine who he wants to bring back and develop the in PDL club.”
Among other coaches, Orlando City Head Coach Adrian Heath wandered the sidelines in search of the next open tryout player to make an Orlando City squad. Heath was pleased at what he saw.
“If I was being perfectly honest, I think we saw more talent here than in the pro tryout,” Heath said. “We saw a lot of young, hungry players who want to become professionals. We’ve identified eight or nine players who we think could compete at one of the levels in Orlando, even inviting a few out to train with us (the pro team) this next week.”
When asked about the advantages of the PDL team having such a great turnout to open tryouts, Heath made it clear that key players from Orlando City’s pro team are products of the PDL system.
“Kieron Bernard, Wes Allen and Miguel Gallardo all started out with our PDL team and are still with us today,” said Heath. “It is a pipeline. It is something to develop. It’s all very exciting what’s happening right now with our U23 squad.”
Avallone addressed the nearly-150 attendees on Sunday after the tryout completed, telling them how significant it was for them to be a part of the first-ever U23 tryout.
“What you’re seeing here is something special,” he said. “You all were just a part of something that is a significant milestone in Orlando City history.”
When I asked Avallone on his thoughts regarding the tryouts, he was excited about the prospects that could join his U23 team.
“We had some exceptional talent out here,” he said. “We’re putting pieces together, adding onto the ones we had here last year. We saw a lot of talent here in the tryouts the past few days.”
The eight or so players identified by the coaching staff will be notified on Thursday, with more news following soon after.
Avallone concluded the talk to the tryout attendees with one final thought on how the Orlando City organization, as a whole, is heading upward.
“I’m highly optimistic about where our club is headed,” Avallone said. “It’s exciting to see the beginnings of the structure we’re building here in Orlando.”