Orlando City SC had its most frustrating Major League Soccer campaign to date in 2018 and as disappointing results normally result in changes, the Lions could have a very different roster when next year comes.
The first step towards the squad’s reconstruction was taken when the club signed Ricardo Moreira as its new director of scouting and, considering the work the Brazilian developed with Columbus Crew SC in the last few years, he could be quite useful in building a new roster.
Moreira, a law graduate who started his soccer career in 2014 at Grêmio Audax in São Paulo, Brazil, joined Crew SC in 2016 as the international relations manager. He became the head of player recruitment — a role more similar to the one he will perform in Orlando — the following year and has put his stamp on the team’s roster building in the last two years.
During his time in Columbus, Moreira gained prominence by helping Columbus, which has traditionally had one of the lowest budgets in the entire league, to find talented and affordable young players who were willing to be part of team’s roster.
Moreira led the team’s scouting network, which counted on two professionals operating in Europe (one based in Russia and the other in Portugal) and another in South America (based in Brazil), which ultimately became the Crew’s preferred location to sign young players. It’s uncertain if these professionals will remain working with him in Orlando.
Midfielder Artur is a good example of how Moreira’s work helped the Crew to acquire a talented young player as a bargain. For starters, the professional, well-connected in the Brazilian market, was the man responsible for arranging for the Ohioans to make their preseason at the training center of São Paulo FC.
Once the team was training there, the coaching staff and Moreira identified Artur, then a 20-year-old player who had featured for São Paulo’s senior team in just four matches, as a potential option for Columbus.
Moreira was involved in the entire negotiation process and he was instrumental in putting together a very favorable deal for Crew SC, which allowed the club to sign Artur on a permanent basis after a successful one-year loan contract even if São Paulo wanted him back.
The strategy was repeated when the Crew acquired 19-year-old left back Milton Valenzuela from Newell’s Old Boys, a player from the Argentina Under-20 Men’s National Team, on loan. After months of scouting, Moreira and the Crew signed the young fullback to a loan deal with an option to buy, which will likely be exercised, at the end of the 2018 season.
Orlando City has already targeted the South American market, as the signings of Josué Colmán and Carlos Ascues show, but Moreira’s knowledge and connections in the area could help the Lions to put together a strong roster for 2019.