As Michael Citro wrote in the very first days of December, acquiring a starting-caliber goalkeeper is one of the top priorities for Orlando City’s front office this off-season. After the departures of Joe Bendik and Earl Edwards Jr. at the end of the 2018 MLS season, the Lions were shorthanded between the posts with the unproven Adam Grinwis and Mason Stajduhar as the only options for the positions.
The Lions partially addressed the need earlier this morning with the signing of Louisville FC goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh. While Ranjitsingh performed very well and led his team to back-to-back USL championships in 2017 and 2018, he isn’t an MLS caliber goalkeeper quite yet. This doesn’t mean that James O’Connor won’t ride into next season with the 25-year-old as his starter, but O’Connor may still be looking for a starter-caliber talent that can help ease Ranjitsingh, Grinwis, or Stajduhar into the role.
Orlando will have to hit the market to fill this need in the roster and the team could do it in several different ways. But, don’t expect the Lions to make a splash here. Goalkeepers are traditionally not highly valued by franchises and considering Orlando is operating with a tight budget after an over-spending 2018 season, the Lions will likely try to work on an affordable solution for this spot.
Here are three options the team could look at to help strengthen its goalkeeping unit.
The 33-year-old Danish-born Ousted is a proven MLS veteran, having recorded 159 matches (all starts) in the league in which he has made almost 500 saves since his arrival in 2013. Ousted held the starting spot at the Vancouver Whitecaps for four straight seasons and when he lost it, he was traded to D.C. United. In the American capital, he entered the 2018 season in the starting lineup, but lost his place when Bill Hamid returned from loan. His 2018 salary was pricey at nearly $370,000, and Orlando would have to send something back to United to acquire Ousted’s services, but if the Lions ultimately get it done they will be adding a proven commodity to their roster.
The son of former USMNT skipper Jurgen, Jonathan Klinsmann has American citizenship and has been already called up to the Stars & Stripes despite of having played just one professional match for German Bundesliga team Hertha Berlin. At 21, Klinsmann is getting to an age where he needs to get playing time at a high level to keep developing, and there is probably no better place for him to do so right now than MLS as he tries to solidify his spot within the national team under new Head Coach Gregg Berhalter after playing for the U-18 and U-20 squads. Orlando would probably have to work out a loan with Hertha, and even though there could be some question marks about his young age and lack of experience, some cases — like Zack Steffen with Columbus Crew SC — show it could be a good move.
If the Lions plan on using their Brazilian connections to fill this void in the roster, they could find a decent option in 32-year-old Júlio César. The veteran, who was a starter for Serie A regulars Fluminense Football Club for most of the last two seasons will be out of contract in two weeks and with his future with the Rio de Janeiro club up in the air, he could be tempted to a move overseas. A product of Botafogo de Futebol e Regatas Academy, César has considerable international experience as he spent seven seasons in Portugal and Spain, where he played for Benfica, Belenenses, Granada and Getafe, and would most likely be a solid solution to Orlando's issues between the posts.