Orlando City has signed 18-year-old midfielder Pierre Da Silva to an MLS contract. While there was some speculation he would be granted Homegrown Player status after serving with the club’s pro academy, in the end the Lions were able to lock up his services despite not getting the HGP tag.
Da Silva is the first player to climb from the academy to Orlando City B and then sign a first-team contract and joins Tony Rocha and Mikey Ambrose as Orlando City B players to receive an MLS contract.
“I’m proud of everyone in the club who has helped Pierre get to where he is today,” Orlando City Chief Executive Officer Alex Leitão said in a club press release. “Pierre’s addition is a testament to the quality, competitiveness and benefits of playing with OCB and the clear path we have laid out for academy players to reach the MLS level.”
The 5-foot-9 midfielder spent the 2016 season in the USL with OCB. According to the USL website, Da Silva made 22 appearances with OCB last year, scoring two goals and adding five assists. His assist total led the team and he won the OCB Coaches’ Award at the club’s annual awards gala.
Prior to joining OCB, Da Silva featured for the Orlando City Pro Academy U-17/18 team for six months after playing in the U.S. Soccer U-17 Residency Program at IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL. The Port Chester, NY, native has scored four goals in 32 appearances for United States youth national teams at the U-17 and U-19 levels. In November, he represented the U.S. at the U-19 national team training camp in Sunrise, FL, and he played for the United States at the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup.
“Pierre showed his skill and work ethic time and again last season with OCB, when he trained with the first team and during his time with the national team,” Lions General Manager Niki Budalic said in Orlando City’s release. “His work rate and creativity up the wing always gave us options up the pitch. I’m proud that OCB has produced another MLS-caliber player and I’m excited to see him succeed with the first team.”
What does this mean for the Lions? Well, Da Silva is a gifted set piece taker and creative force in the attack. Locking him up is an important signing for Orlando City. While he does have an MLS contract, at his age – and with Orlando City’s crowded attacking midfield – it would be no surprise if the club loans him to OCB for the 2017 season. However, he does have the poise and talent to make some first-team appearances.