Feb. 16, 2017 at Sylvan Lake Park

Availability: MF Tony Rocha

MF Tony Rocha

Rocha played 19 games with Orlando City B last season and also made it to the Major League Soccer squad. He started two of his eight appearances for the senior team in 2016.

Talked about this a lot last year, but the job that [Orlando City B head coach Anthony Pulis] and [assistant coach Rob Valentino] did with the [United Soccer League] team and getting us kinda prepared for making that jump a little bit easier. It’s kinda shown with both me, Mikey [Ambrose] last year and then now Pierre [da Silva] this year being signed to the first team. So I give a lot of me making that jump from USL to [Major League Soccer] to the preparation that they’ve given us.

When asked about his focus this preseason, Rocha said he simply wanted to get used to playing again.

Just to kinda get used to playing again. The offseason’s pretty long, and we only have a couple of preseason games before the season starts. So just getting back to the rhythm of things, and, I guess, that’s really the majority of it is just getting into a rhythm going into season.

Head coach Jason Kreis will have Rocha in a versatile role, playing either wide or in the middle.

He said he’s gonna use me more of like a versatile player. So, playing out wide or in the middle or all that stuff. But I’m not really worried about that. I’m just going out there and working hard every day in training and wherever I’m playing, I’m just gonna give it my all.

All preseason long, Kreis has emphasized the importance of good body language.

Ant is similar in that way where it’s a lot about details and just our body language and everything. So, the adjustment from him to Kreis has been similar.

When asked about which players have taken him under his wing, Rocha mentioned fellow midfielders Antonio Nocerino and Servando Carrasco.

Well I think a couple of the guys last year who kinda took me under their wing were like Nocerino, Servando ‘cus I was playing the position last year and kinda learning from that, and, this year, the new players that we’ve gotten with Will [Johnson] and Jonathan Spector—they’ve both been a good leader, both in the locker room and on the field. Kinda just leading the young guys.

After the team’s 10-day trip to Jacksonville, where the Lions focused on defense, Kreis said he’s transitioned to working on offense.

Well I think we have one of the best attacking front four in the league, and that comes naturally to them. So the focus is just really defensively and to get that down. And we have so many creative players on the field, I think attacking’s gonna come easy.