It was a Monday like any other, except most others weren't built up to be as big as this one.
On Dec. 8, 2014, three months before Orlando City's very first match in Major League Soccer, the club announced the signings of three prominent players in the league -- each combined to have countless thousands of MLS minutes between them. Adding goalkeeper Tally Hall, defender Aurelien Collin, and midfielder Amobi Okugo signaled a real desire by the club to be competitive within the league in Year 1, adding three pieces that shored up the spine of the team and brought invaluable MLS experience to a roster desperately lacking it at the time.
The day -- built up as "Major Monday" by the club -- was supposed to be an instrumental step in preparing the team for the next couple of years.
"We think we've signed some of the best players in their respective positions in MLS," said Head Coach Adrian Heath at the time. "All three players are guys that we've wanted for a long time, and we know that they will be huge assets to us moving forward. We've always stated that we want to hit the ground running in MLS next year, and these three players will help make us competitive from day one."
Now, here we stand, nearly 15 months later, and that Monday that was promised to be oh so 'major' seems very minor in retrospect.
Two of the "Big Three," who were all announced by the club at the same press conference, are gone from the club. And the third has been relegated to the bench, and could very well be playing for another team before this upcoming season wraps up.
Okugo was the first of the bunch to leave, appearing in 15 games for the Lions in 2015 before he was traded midseason to Sporting Kansas City for Servando Carrasco. Okugo was supposed to be an important piece of the lineup, but soaring starts from Cristian Higuita and Darwin Ceren quickly pushed him to the bench, were he completely struggled to retain his confidence, played terrible for stretches, and never truly looked comfortable in Adrian Heath's system.
Okugo is now looking for his third team in less than a year, after being released by SKC last week. For a guy that was getting talk of a national team call-up in Orlando, his fall can only be described as incredible.
Hall took the fall next, and this one is much easier to explain.
Injuries killed most of his chances at having a long, successful career in Orlando. A second knee injury in just over a year made Hall tough to keep at his salary heading into Year 2. Orlando City has a lot of confidence in the development of Earl Edwards Jr., who will start this season as the backup to Joe Bendik, who also comes in as a much cheaper option to Hall -- last seen training with the Seattle Sounders.
Collin's situation is a lot tougher to discern. He started in 27 of his 28 appearances last season, and somehow the 2013 MLS Cup MVP comes into the season as a backup to both David Mateos and Seb Hines. The French defender is making close to half a million dollars, takes up a valuable international spot on the club's roster, and is sitting on the bench. How we got to this point is nearly impossible to figure out.
Players fall out of favor, that's just the nature of sports, but given Collin was not a problem in Orlando City's defense last season, it's hard to see how he was pushed down so quickly. This may have nothing to do with Collin doing anything wrong, but rather with Hines and Mateos simply surpassing him.
Change happens in sports -- something Orlando City fans saw a lot of over the past 17 months -- and sometimes things don't quite pan out how the club planned. And sometimes you buy an Aurelien Collin shirsey because you figured you'd get at least a good two or three years out of it.
But that's sports.