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Orlando City Did What Had to Be Done with Kevin Molino

In trading Kevin Molino to Minnesota United, Orlando City did what was necessary — but not necessarily what the club wanted to do.

MLS: New York City FC at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

As you may have heard by now, Orlando City made some waves in the trade market on Thursday by sending two-time USL MVP Kevin Molino and goalkeeper Patrick McLain to Minnesota United for a record-tying amount of allocation money — $650,000 ($450,000 in GAM and $200,000 in TAM).

The Original now rejoins his former gaffer, Adrian Heath, in Minnesota after an impressive season last year coming off of a torn ACL in 2015. Last year, Molino scored 11 goals and put up eight assists in 30 appearances (26 starts).

It’s a big move — one of the largest deals in MLS history — that leaves plenty to talk about.

As the Orlando Sentinel’s Alicia DelGallo reported, Molino had become increasingly unhappy about his current contract situation with the club upon learning that several teams around the league had shown interest in his services, which led to the Lions attempting to negotiate a pay raise. Molino rejected each offer, and it started to become less and less likely that the 26-year-old midfielder would be with the club much longer.

There’s a lot of ways to look at it, but it doesn’t come simpler than this: whatever the reason may be — contract, coaching staff, whatever — Molino became unhappy in Orlando. If it was his desire to leave, then Orlando City showed real strength granting him his wish and trading him to Minnesota, where he reunites with the coach that’s worked with him more than anyone over the last six years.

Regardless of the production and explosiveness he brings to the pitch, it’s not worth tying a player down that doesn’t want to be there and isn’t fully committed to the overall goal of bringing a championship to the city of Orlando.

It was less than two weeks ago that reports surfaced saying that Orlando City had rejected an offer in the neighborhood of $500,000 in allocation. The club said at the time that it had no intention of moving Molino and saw him as a big piece of the club moving forward. Maybe that was truly the case at the time, but things obviously changed — mostly on the other end of the stick — that forced Orlando City’s hand, and really, you can’t help but be cheerful over the lump sum the club got in return.

Only Eddie Johnson’s trade to D.C. United several years ago involved as much allocation money as the package sent to Orlando, which the Lions can add to their pile. In a cap-structured league, allocation money is incredibly valuable to clubs.

It’ll be interesting to see, of course, if Orlando decides to use that allocation to find a replacement for Molino right away — with the transfer window closing soon, time to find someone outside of the league is running out — or if the club plans to look in house, with a number of options already on the roster.

After six seasons, Kevin Molino is no longer a member of Orlando City Soccer Club. Where the club goes from here, and how it copes with his loss, will be an intriguing storyline to watch throughout the season.

Remember: it’s not something the club wanted to do, it’s something it had to do.