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Should Orlando City Target Miami FC Forward Stefano Pinho?

In need of a backup forward, the Lions might have found a decent option in an unpleasant way.

Image Courtesy of Miami FC

The U.S. Open Cup has been a disaster for Orlando City over the past two seasons. Both in 2016 and 2017, the Lions were knocked out of the tournament after being defeated at home by two NASL sides, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and Miami FC, respectively.

The setback against the Strikers, though, brought Orlando’s attention to Brazilian fullback Victor “PC” Giro, who scored the game-winning goal for the visitors that night and was signed by the Lions a few months later.

Could the same happen to Stefano Pinho, another Brazilian, who scored a hat trick in Miami FC’s 3-1 win over Orlando? That wouldn’t be a bad idea.

“PC and I played together in Fort Lauderdale and we are friends,” Pinho told The Mane Land two days after the match. “Right after the game, people started joking, saying that Orlando would try to sign me now as they did with him. But, right now, my focus is on doing good work in Miami.”

Orlando obviously needs to add a backup striker to its roster, and this need will probably become more evident after Cyle Larin’s recent DUI arrest. So, why not Pinho, who showed his firepower in great fashion at Orlando City Stadium last Wednesday?

The 26-year-old Brazilian was developed in the academies of Rio de Janeiro’s side Fluminense, where he had the opportunity to share the training field and locker rooms with former FC Barcelona and FC Porto midfielder Deco and former Brazilian National Team striker Fred. He also played for Finnish side MYPA before arriving in the United States in 2015.

His first club in the U.S. was the Strikers, where he took the NASL by storm, being named the 2015 NASL Golden Ball winner and leading the league in goals with 16, while notching seven assists. Last year, he played for Minnesota United and scored five goals in 25 matches.

Pinho, originally a midfielder, showed good finishing skills and great positioning inside the box, two attributes Orlando City could definitely use in a backup for Larin. He is also able to play on the sides, creating opportunities for his teammates.

“I like to have freedom to move on the offensive third, so I can create space for my teammates,” Pinho said about his playing style. “I am also not shy on finishing as a striker needs to finish in order to score, right?”

Pinho has never played in MLS, but he was almost there a couple of times. In 2013, he was picked by the Colorado Rapids in the Supplemental Draft after being the top scorer at the combine, but never signed a contract. Earlier in 2017, he had an offer to be a part of Minnesota United’s inaugural campaign, but turned it down.

“I felt that their offer was not the best option for my family and me, so I decided to go in a different direction,” Pinho said. “If get a new offer, we’ll sit, discuss it and figure out what’s the best for me.”

Orlando City could definitely use a player with Pinho’s skill set, not only to backup Larin, but also to provide some scoring power off the bench. The Brazilian forward is settled in Florida and could be a viable option for the Lions for the remainder of the season.