Orlando City SC’s wait for a center back is over as the club announced the arrival of Jonathan Spector from English Football League Championship’s Birmingham City. The 30-year-old versatile defender and former U.S. international was signed as a Discovery signing. A club spokesperson confirmed that the deal was for “"four years with club options” and that Targeted Allocation Money was used on Spector.
“It’s no secret we have been looking for another defender,” Lions General Manager Niki Budalic said in a club press release. “Jonathan brings the leadership and character we've been looking for. His experience will be a valuable asset to build a competitive squad.”
The Lions will be Spector’s first Major League Soccer club as the Illinois native built his entire career in England, where he also played for Manchester United. He became the first American outfield player to make an appearance for the Red Devils. In addition to Birmingham City and Manchester United, Spector played for Charlton Athletic and West Ham United. He has made 101 English Premier League appearances and 153 in the Championship, and has featured in the UEFA Champions League and Europa League.
Spector has also 36 caps for the United States National Team under his belt. He debuted in 2004 and took part in important tournaments such as the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup, the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2010 FIFA World Cup, where he was an unused sub. His last appearance dates back to October 2015, against Costa Rica.
“We are thrilled to add a player of Jonathan’s pedigree to our roster,” CEO Alex Leitão said in the club’s release. “We are very confident Jonathan will fit nicely into our camp and provide veteran leadership in the back.”
Versatility is one of the highlights in Spector’s game, as the newcomer can play as a center back, fullback or defensive midfielder. He is expected, though, to plug in central defense, most likely pairing José Aja. His arrival means a huge boast for Orlando City’s back line, which struggled during the last seasons.