With the midpoint of Orlando City's inaugural MLS season having just passed, it's as good of a time as any to look back at the players who helped take the team to where they are now. Part one of this series will focus on last year's team, the USL Pro Championship winning 2014 Orlando City SC.
Out of the 24 players that were on last year's roster, eight were retained to play in MLS—Homegrown Players Tommy Redding and Tyler Turner, Portuguese imports Rafael Ramos and Estrela, El Salvador captain Darwin Ceren, Trinidad and Tobago star Kevin Molino, and English imports Luke Boden and Harrison Heath. Each of these players have been important to the team this year and look to be influential for the rest of the season.
Two of the players retired from professional soccer. Anthony Pulis, son of Premier League coach Tony Pulis, retired to become the academy coach of Orlando City at the age of 30. He has been working with the first team as well in some spurts and can be seen at training occasionally. He was also just named the new head coach of Orlando City's USL team, that will begin play in 2016. Meanwhile, Yordany Alvarez was forced to retire due to a medical condition that he developed after an on-field injury that could have affected his health if he had continued. Alvarez was only 28 at the time of his injury. He has also been retained by the club to help with academy players.
The majority of players who were released from the team have new jobs with other American teams.
Four-year starter Miguel Gallardo was the inaugural signing for the Jacksonville Armada, the newest NASL team. He has played in nine games and has a 1.67 goals against average. We recently caught up with Gallardo after a friendly against Boca Juniors.
Guiseppe Gentile moved on to the San Antonio Scorpions of the NASL, playing in only three games in 2014. He then signed with Swiss club FC Chiasso before being loaned back to the Scorpions just last week.
Starting striker Corey Hertzog signed with our I-4 rivals, the Tampa Bay Rowdies—also of the NASL. Since signing with the team in September of last year, he has played in 16 games and has scored twice.
Brad Rusin also signed with the Tampa Bay Rowdies last year, but in April of this year, he was traded to the San Antonio Scorpions. According to stats, he has yet to play in a competitive match since leaving Orlando.
Midfielder Austin Da Luz returned to his former club, the NASL's Carolina RailHawks. Da Luz appeared in six games for the RailHawks in 2014 and re-signed with the team for this year, but has not seen the field due to injury.
A trio of former Lions signed with the same club, Arizona United. Carl Woszczynski, Dennis Chin and Rob Valentino all signed with the club prior to the 2015 season. Woszczynski has started 11 games for Arizona and holds a 1.82 goals against average with a 3-5-1 record in goal. Chin has played in eight games and scored twice with one assist, but has missed time due to injury. Finally Valentino, Arizona's capitan, has started and played in nine games, holding down United's back line. Just as Chin has, Rob has missed three games due to injury.
Defender Bryan Burke and midfielder Aodhan Quinn both ended up at Orlando City's affiliate Louisville City. Burke has played in 14 games, captaining a few of them, while tallying four assists. Quinn, meanwhile, has played in eight games and has scored a goal, something he was unable to do during his time with the Lions.
Both Bitielo Jean Jacques and Justin Clark are currently playing for Orlando's NPSL team, Kraze United. Jean Jaques will be playing for the Haitian national team during the Gold Cup in a few days. (Thanks to some of our Facebook commenters for the info).
Goalie Rafael Diaz signed with New York Red Bulls II after going on trial with the first team earlier this year. He has made three appearances for the team so far this season and has only allowed one goal.
This leaves only one player who is currently still without a club. Midfielder Adama Mbengue, who was supposed to come with the club to MLS, has had trials in France and England, but is still yet to sign anywhere.
While the current club is obviously the main focus for fans, it's always important to remember your roots and pay homage to them.