The last member of the Heath family has now departed from the club. Today Orlando City traded 20-year-old Homegrown midfielder Harrison Heath to expansion club Atlanta United for a fourth-round pick in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft.
Heath signed with the USL iteration of Orlando City in July of 2014 after having trained with the club. At the end of the season, the son of then-Head Coach Adrian Heath was signed to an MLS contract, eventually being designated as a Homegrown Player. Through three years with the Lions, the junior Heath appeared in seven games in 2014 and six through two years in MLS. Heath also spent some time with Orlando City B in 2016, appearing in 13 games and scoring his only professional goal against Louisville City FC in June.
Heath came into the club with the “coach’s son” moniker permanently attached to him and did his best to carve out a niche for himself in Orlando. When his father was fired from the club, he began to step out from his the elder Heath’s shadow, but was unfortunately sidelined due to a knee injury in only the second game after the firing.
Heath’s time in general with Orlando City was set back by injury, having dislocated his kneecap in a friendly against West Bromwich Albion in July of 2015, keeping him out half of the season. Then, just one year later, in July of 2016, he sprained his MCL in New York against the Red Bulls, keeping him out a month.
Though only playing in six games in MLS, Heath showed glimpses of talent and potential, but was never able to fully showcase his skills in Orlando. Teammates lauded him as one of the best passers on the team and, when he got on the field, he displayed his passing ability, but at the same time, showed his lack of experience, making occasional poor decisions, especially with OCB, where he racked up five yellow cards in 12 games. His final act in an Orlando City uniform was earning a straight red card against New York Red Bulls II in the USL playoffs, after going into a challenge from behind the player.
“I would like to thank Harrison for his years of dedication to our club and for helping us in our move from the USL to MLS,” Lions Assistant General Manager Niki Budalic said in a club press release. “We wish him the best of luck moving forward.”
As part of the trade of Heath, Orlando receives Atlanta’s natural fourth-round draft pick in 2019. Given the recent history of the MLS SuperDraft, the odds of that asset turning into a quality MLS player are considered low.
Combined with the earlier release of Tyler Turner, Orlando has parted ways with two Homegrown Players this off-season. The club still has defender Tommy Redding and goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar, with several potential academy players currently working their way toward HGP status.