As Orlando City enters its third year in MLS and OCB starts its second year, more and more academy players will begin to make impacts in the years to come. Just a few weeks ago, OCB midfielder Pierre da Silva became the first player to make the jump from the academy to Orlando City B to MLS. Just a few days later, OCB signed highly touted forward Joe Gallardo, who is expected to be the next player to make the jump to the MLS level.
With the pro academy being around for going on three years now, players who started when they were 15 will be graduating the program and either going off to college or making the jump to the pro level. With that, we decided to take a look at four players that could become the next players to make an impact with Orlando City.
An academy transfer from the New England Revolution last year, the Brazilian left midfielder has had an impact with the U-18 Pro Academy, scoring six goals in 16 matches. The creative winger spent time with the MLS side as well as OCB, training with both teams over the last few months of the 2016 season. He was even able to play for OCB in a blowout 4-0 loss to the Charlotte Independence, where he logged five minutes on the field and got away one shot that just skimmed the crossbar.
An Orlando native, Loera has been with the academy since its inception and is one of the more exciting players in the academy. The attacking midfielder scored seven goals with the U-18 Pro Academy last year and, like Cuoto, got the chance to train with the MLS and USL sides. Loera appeared in three games for OCB last year, the most out of any academy player, logging 55 minutes on the pitch. The most memorable game for the midfielder was in Louisville, where he played the final 37 minutes of the match and recorded a game-winning assist to Keegan Smith. Loera has also been called up to the U.S. U-19 National Team roster back in October, where he played a full 90 minutes against Club Tijuana.
The son of legendary local women’s soccer coach and former Orlando Lion Fidgi Haig, Landen has created a name for himself with the Orlando City academy. The leader in the U-18 team in goals with nine in 16 games, the forward was able to train with OCB and played for only one minute in a blowout loss to New York Red Bulls II back in August. As of right now, Haig has committed to Wake Forest for the fall of 2017, however that may change, depending on if Orlando offers him a contract.
The standout defender from Winter Park and Lake Highland Prep star has appeared in 16 matches for the U-18 pro academy, scoring five goals as a defender. Like the other players on this list, he spent time in the fall training with OCB and made the bench for one game, against Charlotte, but did not appear. Norris has committed to play college soccer at the University of Virginia, so, much like Haig, it could be possible he forgoes college for a chance at the professional level.
Both Jack McCloskey and Raul Aguilera Jr. have committed to Ohio State and North Carolina, respectively, but have shown tremendous potential for the future. Aguilera has been called up multiple times for USYNT duty and played with OCB in the preseason. His goal is signing a Homegrown deal with Orlando City. You can read more about his soccer journey here. McCloskey, a defender, has potential for the future, but will most likely spend his next few years in college before trying his hand in the pros.