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Orlando City Signs Free Agent Defender Chris Schuler

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The 30-year-old center back signed a two-year contract with a club option.

2013 MLS Cup-Real Salt Lake v Sporting Kansas City Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Orlando City got the center back depth it needed after trading away Jose Aja by signing Chris Schuler to a two-year deal after a brief stint as a trialist this preseason.

Schuler is an eight-year MLS veteran with over 100 appearances. This will be just his second club, after he was with Real Salt Lake from 2010 to 2017. Orlando City Head Coach Jason Kreis spent 2007 to 2013 with RSL and gave Schuler his first opportunity as a professional. The Missouri native has 107 appearances, of which all but nine were starts and includes 11 playoff starts as well. Schuler found the back of the net five times and added two assists, but as a center back he does not venture forward too often.

Prior to MLS, Schuler played collegiately for Creighton University. During his time there, the 6-foot-4 defender won a plethora of honors, including Soccer America Men’s Freshman All-America Second-Team, Missouri Valley Conference All-Freshman Team, MVC Defensive Player of the Year, NSCAA Second-Team All-America and NSCAA All-Midwest Region First-Team.

RSL drafted Schuler in the third round of the 2010 MLS SuperDraft but the defender had a difficult time breaking into the squad. He got his first professional action in a 2-1 overtime defeat to D.C. United in the U.S. Open Cup of his rookie year. He played 63 minutes in that game, where he played alongside fellow Lion Will Johnson. Schuler and Johnson are reunited after having played at RSL together from 2010 to 2012.

What it means for Orlando

Schuler is the fourth-string center back and will likely not see the field often. Owing mainly to injury issues, he has never played more than 25 MLS games in a year and in his last three years has just 21 games, which is about as many games as Aja had last year alone.

This weekend, Schuler will most likely be in the 18 with Amro Tarek and Lamine Sané both questionable. Tarek returned from training earlier this week but Sané has been finishing up some final immigration issues. This signing makes it harder for Donny Toia, who has been training as a center back, to get any playing time but don’t expect to see Schuler too often.

His MLS experience will be invaluable. He is a veteran of the league who even has MLS Cup experience, when Kreis’ RSL lost to Sporting Kansas City in the 2013 finals. Schuler played all 120 minutes and scored his spot kick in the penalty shootout.