The first player brought to Orlando City in the Jason Kreis era is gone. The Lions announced that midfielder Matías Pérez García has been waived, as the club could not come to a new contract agreement with the Argentinian. Pérez García’s contract was set to expire on June 30 after Orlando City’s match at Real Salt Lake.
Defender Leo Pereira, who was loaned to OCB prior to the club’s recent trip to Seattle and Chicago, has been recalled from the USL side and will occupy MPG’s international slot. The slot had been occupied by Richie Laryea.
The club had hoped to re-sign MPG but it seemed the two sides were far apart on coming to terms and the distance could not be bridged. His 2017 salary was just over $260,000.
“We tried our best to reach an agreement with Matías but unfortunately we weren’t able to,” General Manager Niki Budalic said in a club press release. “I want to thank Matías for his contributions to our club. He is a tremendous teammate and person. We wish him the best of luck moving forward.”
Over his 11 months with Orlando City, Pérez García played in 28 matches (21 starts) and amassed one goal and four assists. His lone goal came less than two weeks ago against the Montreal Impact. The Argentinean playmaker was acquired by the Lions less than a year ago from the San Jose Earthquakes in exchange for defensive midfielder Darwin Cerén in the first move the club made after Kreis took over.
“We did not reach an agreement and it’s time to say goodbye to Orlando. I would like to thank everybody for the love I got here. Thanks to my teammates for the moments we lived together and for the technical staff. Let’s wait for what’s coming next and hope it’s the better,” said Perez Garcia (translated from Spanish) in his Instagram post earlier in the day.
What it Means for Orlando City
MPG brought tremendous energy and ball skills to the Lions’ midfield and that will be missed until a full-time replacement can be found. He drew a lot of fouls, and was good in possession and better defensively than expected. But the truth of the matter is that the club couldn’t afford to pay more than a quarter of a million dollars to a player who isn’t a first-choice selection in the starting XI most games. He provided fantastic depth and excellent spot starts, but Jason Kreis’ preferred four-man midfield often included Kaká, Cristian Higuita, Will Johnson, and Antonio Nocerino and Giles Barnes was typically the fill-in when Kaká wasn’t available and the full lineup was healthy.
This will hurt in the short-term, as Carlos Rivas recovers from an ankle injury sustained at Chicago on Saturday. There are few creative attacking players that Kreis can call on. Laryea seems sure to stay with the senior team for the time being, but the Lions will likely be active in looking for a veteran replacement in the upcoming summer transfer window. One possibility is the rumored move for Colombian Juan Quintero.