On Friday afternoon, Orlando City announced the signing of midfielder Pierre Da Silva from its USL reserve team Orlando City B. The signing of the 18-year-old is a major milestone for a club that continues its rise.
When Orlando City launched its academy in 2012, the goal of Founder and President Phil Rawlins — now the club’s life-president — was to develop players that would eventually play for the first team. Rawlins stated at the time that he wanted to see at least seven players in the first team that were developed by the club.
Following the academy’s launch, the next step was to create a reserve team that would connect the academy with the first team. That link came into existence in 2016 when Orlando City announced the creation of Orlando City B which would play in the USL. The plan was that a player could join the club at a young age, join OCB after graduating from the academy, and move on to the first team.
While goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar was the first player out of the academy to sign an MLS contract with Orlando City, Stajduhar didn’t see any playing time for OCB in 2016 sitting behind Mark Ridgers and Jake Fenlason. Meanwhile, Da Silva took up a starring role on the left side of the midfield, quickly making a name for himself. Da Silva isn’t the first player out of the academy to sign an MLS contract, but he is the first that played in the academy and for OCB.
The fact that Da Silva has made the jump through the ranks to signing an MLS contract is a big moment for the club and another notch on a long list of milestones that the club has recently achieved. For Orlando City to reach the ultimate goal that Rawlins stated back in 2012, there are certain steps that have to be taken first.
The first step was the establishment of the academy. Signing Stajduhar to a Homegrown contract was another major step. Even though Da Silva cannot sign a Homegrown contract with the Lions, because he played for the U.S. U-17 team prior to joining the academy, the fact that he went from academy, to OCB, to first team was another major step. The next milestone will be when Orlando City signs a player to a Homegrown contract out of the academy and he is ready to produce for the senior team.
Because Orlando City is still so young, there are a lot of milestones that are taking place. The signing of Pierre Da Silva to an MLS contract was one of those milestones. While it doesn’t allow Orlando City to reach its ultimate goal of developing its own players for the senior team, the club took a huge step in the right direction with this signing.