Orlando City confirmed today what social media strongly suggested last night -- that the club has parted ways with defensive midfielder Estrela. The move opens a prized international slot for the Lions. Although specifics weren't given, it seemed as if the young midfielder wasn't going to be getting much playing time so both parties moved on.
"We'd like to thank Estrela for his contributions during our final USL campaign and inaugural Major League Soccer season," said Head Coach Adrian Heath. "We wish him the best of luck moving forward."
Known more for his hairstyle than his play on the pitch last season, Estrela was brought up from the Lions' USL side along with fellow former Benfica youth player Rafael Ramos. While Ramos flourished in his first MLS season, Estrela got buried deep on the defensive midfield depth chart, behind Darwin Ceren, Cristian Higuita, Servando Carrasco and Harrison Heath.
Not only did Estrela's situation not improve in 2016, but the club also brought in additional players in front of the Portuguese youth international, including Honduran Devron Garcia.
Estrela played a decent if unspectacular game in the West Bromwich Albion friendly in 2015 but otherwise had trouble cracking the lineup even in friendlies. He did not appear in a single MLS match last season. Even with developmental USL side Orlando City B playing over in Melbourne this season, it seemed unlikely that Estrela would be able to get much time on the pitch.
Moving on seems like the best option for both parties in this case. Estrela can look for other opportunities and Orlando City can use his international slot to bolster the club's roster.
Heath said on Monday that the club was still looking to bring in a few players before the season starts. Freeing up Estrela's international slot will help with that.