Orlando City is now two-thirds of the way through its inaugural Major League Soccer campaign. Much can happen throughout the course of the season, which is evidenced not only by the peaks and valleys experienced along the way, but also by the roster turnover that has occurred in the five months since the Lions opened their season against New York City FC in front of a sold-out Citrus Bowl.
Following the recent termination of Martin Paterson's contract, OCSC has now parted ways with four of its original MLS members: Donovan Ricketts, Amobi Okugo, Sean St. Ledger and Paterson.
Three of the aforementioned players were in Orlando City's first ever MLS 18-man game day roster, including two of them, Ricketts and Okugo, that were in the original starting XI. St. Ledger was used off the bench for one minute that afternoon but would go on to play a significant role for the team in the center of the defense, while Paterson would have almost certainly been in the lineup had he not been hampered by injury in the preseason.
The exits of Ricketts and Okugo seemed practical for the Lions, as Ricketts – who was acquired as a quality stop-gap while Tally Hall recovered from an ACL injury – was sent to LA in exchange for a second-round MLS SuperDraft pick. The Jamaican shot-stopper was not spectacular in goal for Orlando but was solid and served the club well, starting the first ten matches of Orlando City's MLS history.
Okugo figured to be the cornerstone of City's midfield heading into the season, joining the club from Philadelphia as a reliable No. 8 in front of the back line. A combination of sub-par performances and the meteoric ascension of Cristian Higuita contributed to Okugo's relegation to the bench after nine starts, and he too was exchanged for a second-round selection in addition to Sporting Kansas City's Servando Carrasco.
The departures of Orlando's two Irish originals--St. Ledger and Paterson--were a bit less clear cut, as St. Ledger was waived suddenly following Orlando's trip to the Bronx to face NYCFC on July 26 for what the team cited as a "serious breach of club policy." The Irishman started fourteen matches for the Lions following his brief cameo on opening day, but his season was book-ended by the two matches against NYCFC.
Paterson, a would-be starter up top for Orlando entering the year, saw his stint with the Lions be defined by injuries. After hurting his hamstring during a preseason game in which he was developing quite well alongside Kaká and company, the Northern Irish international made just four appearances for City following his debut off the bench on May 17 against LA Galaxy.
Paterson's departure was credited to personal reasons, but his unremarkable run with the club will now be remembered mostly for what could have been had he been able to remain healthy.
MLS is a business, and player transactions are a common part of that business. These departures, which represent four of Orlando's original MLS members, are just a bit more surreal for OCSC fans just 22 matches into their MLS tenure.