According to a Portuguese report this past week, Orlando City is set to sign Benfica B goalkeeper Thierry Graça to a five-year contract that would keep him with the club through 2020.
As you may or may not have heard by now -- and if you're hearing this from me first, I'm sorry -- the club parted ways with goalkeeper Tally Hall this past week as part of an onslaught of roster moves following the club's inaugural MLS season. The release of Hall leaves the starting goalkeeper spot open after the club removed the guy that started 24 games in 2015 after returning mid-season from ACL surgery.
Now, assuming the reports are true and Armando Carneiro is bringing in Graça -- who played under the new Chief Soccer Officer while at Benfica -- to be here for the next several years, it certainly creates an interesting situation to watch as the off-season, and eventually the preseason, develops.
Earl Edwards Jr. and Homegrown Player signing Mason Stajduhar are the only goalkeepers currently on the roster. Stajduhar is expected to spend the season on loan with Orlando City B in the USL. The coaching staff thinks the world of Edwards Jr. as a future top MLS goalkeeper, and right now the starting job appears to be his. But alongside Graça, you should expect the club to bring in an MLS veteran to compete with the two. Bringing Hall back on a more team-friendly deal isn't completely out of the realm of possibility, but it's also not something you should be keeping your hopes up for, as Carneiro's immediate insertion suggests this club is heading in a different direction than they were before.
Installing a 23-year-old -- who only appeared in a handful of games in goal this season, his first year in pro soccer after being drafted out of UCLA -- as the No. 1 would be quite a head-scratching move without at least making him earn the job in the preseason. He'll have to do just that, but against what competition is the main question.
Goalkeeper has been an interesting position to watch with Orlando City over the last two seasons, and it appears that nothing will change as the club heads into Year 2 in MLS.