Orlando City has been relatively active in the off-season so far — as it should be after its worst season to date. The Lions have already pulled the trigger on four deals since Sunday when Major League Soccer’s transfer market officially opened.
The Lions shipped center back Amro Tarek and fullbacks Mohamed El-Munir and Victor “PC” Giro out of Orlando while they brought fullback Joao Moutinho and forward Tesho Akindele to the Sunshine State.
More moves could happen as soon as today, when MLS will host its waiver draft at 4 p.m. ET, making available for selection players who have been waived by their clubs but don’t meet the minimum years of service requirement for the Re-Entry Draft or Free Agency.
The waiver draft is normally not a very busy day in the league — only two selections were made in 2017 and zero the year before — but Orlando City’s disappointing campaign in 2018 has granted the Lions the second spot in the draft order, which could help in case they are willing to make any additions.
If that’s the case, here are three players available on the list who could be useful:
The Costa Rican forward was selected by LAFC from the San Jose Earthquakes in last year’s Expansion Draft, but he didn’t find much playing time behind the likes of Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi, playing in just 18 matches. At 28 years old, Ureña is a two-time World Cup veteran and even though scoring is not his strongest skill (he has just six goals in 43 MLS matches), his hard work on and off the ball could make him a decent backup for Dom Dwyer — or even an effective partner for the Lions’ striker. Ureña made nearly $300,000 in 2018 and his price tag might be a little bit elevated, but with Orlando parting ways with high-paid players such as Jonathan Spector and Scott Sutter, it could have room to add him.
One spot where Orlando clearly needs help is on the wings, and Martínez could be a good option there. The Panamanian international has been in the league since 2016 but did not have his option picked up by Columbus Crew SC at the end of the 2018 season, when he had 11 starts, all of which came before June. Martínez got injured and later was absent due to family reasons, and that placed him in an unfavorable spot in Gregg Berhalter’s rotation. The winger has been inconsistent, but his talent is evident and the fact that he’s just 21 and has been constantly called up by Panama makes you wonder if he couldn’t be sold for a higher fee in the future. Considering he recently got a green card and that his 2018 salary was slightly north of $70,000, he could be worth the gamble.
After Tarek’s and Spector’s departures, Orlando is shorthanded in central defense and Escobar could fill a role for the Lions. The 23-year-old center back has spent the last season and a half with the New York Red Bulls and even though he played in just 12 matches, he had decent numbers in 2018 — 3.7 clearances, 1.7 interceptions, and 1.2 tackles per game according to WhoScored.com. Escobar has also played in three matches in the 2018 FIFA World Cup and has some experience playing in Portugal. His salary is not low — he made $145,000 last season — and the Lions would also need to secure a loan for Sporting, but he could bring some stability or depth to Orlando’s back line.