The announcement came just over 25 hours after the MLS deadline for player options to be exercised or declined for the 2019 season.
Per the club, RJ Allen, Josué Colmán, Pierre Da Silva, Dom Dwyer, Mohamed El-Munir, Sacha Kljestan, Cam Lindley, Shane O’Neill, Stéfano Pinho, Dillon Powers, Lamine Sané, Amro Tarek and Yoshimar Yotún have existing contracts through 2019 or beyond. Additionally, Carlos Ascues, Adam Grinwis, Cristian Higuita, Will Johnson, Chris Mueller, Victor “PC” Giro, Uri Rosell and Mason Stajduhar had their contract options for the 2019 season exercised by Orlando City. So, an additional, previously non-guaranteed year has been added on the player’s contract. Dom Dwyer signed a three-year contract extension in January, so we knew he’d be back. The club had just re-signed Powers last off-season.
The contract options for Joe Bendik, Richie Laryea, Tony Rocha, Chris Schuler, Jonathan Spector, Scott Sutter, Donny Toia and Jose Villarreal were not exercised, and the contract of Earl Edwards, Jr. has expired. Of course, some of those players could end up renegotiating deals and returning later as we’ve seen in the past with players such as Powers.
The biggest surprise to me of those not retained would be Sutter, who has performed admirably through two seasons in Orlando, although his 2018 season was derailed by injuries. Spector was a defensive rock when available but after a mostly healthy 2017 campaign he was plagued with various knocks this past season. Sutter and Spector combined to earn $861,941.50 in 2018. Bendik made an additional $189,000.
The expiration of Edwards’ contract and the club declining Bendik’s option points to an obvious need to address the goalkeeping situation this off-season for whoever replaces Niki Budalic as general manager. Grinwis played well down the stretch but it appears the club will be looking for a full-time starter to pair with the 26-year-old. Unless Edwards is re-signed to a new deal, Higuita will be the lone surviving original MLS Lion on the squad.
Internet rumors this week suggested that El-Munir and PC would be on the way out but both remain on the club’s roster. Returning too are the club’s two mid-season pickups, O’Neill and Ascues, who each performed well in the final third of the season for the Lions.
Post-2018 Orlando City Roster Status
(Current roster players in italics)
- RJ Allen - Under Contract
- Carlos Ascues - Option Exercised
- Joe Bendik - Option Not Exercised
- Josué Colmán - Under Contract
- Pierre Da Silva - Under Contract
- Dom Dwyer - Under Contract
- Earl Edwards, Jr. - Out of Contract
- Mohamed El-Munir - Under Contract
- Adam Grinwis - Option Exercised
- Cristian Higuita - Option Exercised
- Will Johnson - Option Exercised
- Sacha Kljestan - Under Contract
- Richie Laryea - Option Not Exercised
- Cam Lindley - Under Contract
- Chris Mueller - Option Exercised
- Victor “PC” Giro - Option Exercised
- Shane O’Neill - Under Contract
- Stéfano Pinho - Under Contract
- Dillon Powers - Under Contract
- Tony Rocha - Option Not Exercised
- Uri Rosell - Option Exercised
- Lamine Sané - Under Contract
- Chris Schuler - Option Not Exercised
- Jonathan Spector - Option Not Exercised
- Mason Stajduhar - Option Exercised
- Scott Sutter - Option Not Exercised
- Amro Tarek - Under Contract
- Donny Toia - Option Not Exercised
- Jose Villarreal - Option Not Exercised
- Yoshimar Yotún - Under Contract