Welcome back, Rob Valentino!
Orlando City announced today that former Lions defender and captain will join the club's new USL franchise as an assistant coach under Anthony Pulis for the team's inaugural season in 2016.
"We're extremely thrilled to welcome Rob Valentino back home," said Orlando City Founder and President Phil Rawlins in a club press release. "Rob has always been a part of the Orlando City family and played a key role in our push to becoming the 'Soccer Capital of the South.' We know he'll be a great addition alongside Anthony Pulis, and we look forward to working with him again."
The veteran center back joined Orlando City in the team's first season in the City Beautiful in 2011 and became a fixture in the lineup, appearing in 77 games and scoring nine goals. While in purple, Valentino won three regular season USL titles and two playoff championships. He scored his first career goal on April 16, 2011 in a 1-0 Lions win over the Charlotte Eagles and was the Defensive Player of the year for the 2011 USL season.
Originally drafted 13th overall by the New England Revolution in the 2008 Major League Soccer SuperDraft, Valentino was traded to Colorado Rapids in exchange for Nico Colaluca on May 6, 2009. He never made an MLS appearance for New England or Colorado and asked for his release before the 2010 season to play for FC Tampa Bay, making 27 appearances for the USSF Division 2 side.
After spending 2011-14 with Orlando City, Valentino signed with Arizona United for 2015. He has made 15 starts for Arizona United this season without a goal or assist, missing about a month with a hamstring injury.
Born in Illinois, Valentino grew up in California and Arizona, and was a four-year captain at the University of San Francisco. He was named West Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year his sophomore season and earned WCC Player of the Year honors his junior season.
The move was lauded by another original Lion: