There were several big changes for Orlando City this season as the club transitioned from Adrian Heath’s regime to Jason Kreis’. The club saw shakeups with some of the biggest names leaving and some former stars making their way back. But now that the 2017 MLS season has ended, there’s more context to how the trades shook out for Orlando and the teams on the other end of the trades.
So how did those big splashes grade?
Kevin Molino to Minnesota United for $650,000 Allocation Money
It was an unfortunate move that had to happen for the Lions going into 2017. Molino, one of the longest-serving members of the club, expressed his unhappiness in the off-season and was eventually dealt at the end of January. For all intents and purposes, Orlando made out well for trading an unhappy player in his prime that had been a key piece of the club for so long. The final sum of $650,000 was an MLS record at the time.
The bad news for Orlando is that even with that injection of cash, the team never got a replacement that matched Molino’s offensive ability. When age seemingly caught up with Kaká, there was no one left to shoulder the creative load and the Lions lacked goal scoring from midfield all year. Not having to sell one of their best players cheaply was great, but the move hurt the Lions in the short term. Meanwhile, Molino had another productive year in Minnesota with seven goals and nine assists.
Brek Shea to Vancouver Whitecaps for Giles Barnes
Fans were shocked when fan favorite Shea was moved across the continent just days before the start of the season.
Shea had a bit of a revival in Vancouver with his most productive MLS season since his return. With four goals and two assists for the Canadian club — including the winner against Orlando — Shea made out just fine. Giles Barnes, for comparison, bagged three league goals for the Lions and added two assists. He failed to make the necessary impact for his pay grade and his option was subsequently declined by the club.
But after the league announced the bulk of roster moves, things look a lot better for City. Orlando took on Barnes’ larger contract for just this year while the Whitecaps are locked into Shea’s deal for 2018. Flipping Brek for a player that fit Kreis’ diamond better and the financial flexibility gained from doing so proved to be a shrewd move from Niki Budalic and the front office. Like the Molino trade, Orlando still has to adequately spend that cap space to make the most of this deal, but they have the potential to come out ahead.
Luis Gil and $100,000 Allocation Money to Colorado Rapids for Dillon Powers
The eleventh hour deadline day deal for Powers seemed to be Orlando City washing their hands of a failed loan move for Gil at the beginning of the season. Orlando did well to make the swap favorable for the Lions. The club paid Colorado the money originally owed to Real Salt Lake for Gil’s MLS rights and managed to take on Powers while keeping Gil’s much lower cap hit instead.
With those parameters, trading for a former Rookie of the Year with more upside seemed like a slam dunk for Orlando. After Gil underperformed for half of the season, getting a clean slate was a refreshing move. The downside for Orlando was that there wasn’t much production from either midfielder. Powers wasn’t worth his $325,000 salary and his option was declined, the same as his counterpart in Gil. Assuming Powers doesn’t re-sign with the Lions, this trade was a wash.
$1.6 million Allocation Money to Sporting Kansas City for Dom Dwyer
Orlando City shocked the league when it broke the trade record for the second time this year, this time bringing home former striker Dom Dwyer. The $1.6 million sum blew the Molino fee out of the water and could affect Orlando’s allocation coffers for the next couple of years. But Orlando got its man in Dwyer, reinvigorating a fan base that had struggled through yet another season of failing to qualify for the playoffs. It meant a natural successor for the Lions when Cyle Larin inevitably moves on.
Both sides saw positives on the field. Kansas City managed to coast along without Dwyer, winning the U.S. Open Cup and making the playoffs. Orlando saw improved production with Dom’s four goals and four assists even after being dropped into a new system he’d never played before.
It will be tough to get a full feel of how this trade affected both teams. SKC has yet to spend the huge sum it received from Orlando and much of City’s side of the bargain rests on whether or not Dom signs an extension past 2018.