Brazilian forward Stefano Pinho will not be with Orlando City SC for the 2019 Major League Soccer season as he was waived by the club today, just five days before the Lions start their preseason.
Though he was still under contract at the end of 2018, sources with knowledge of the situation told The Mane Land that Pinho wasn’t part of the coaching staff’s plans for the upcoming season. Asked about his departure from Orlando, the Brazilian told The Mane Land it was a mutual decision.
"I had another year on my contract, but I talked to the club and we agreed that ending it now would be the best for both sides," Pinho said.
Pinho went to his social media accounts to post a farewell message to Orlando City and to the United States, the country where he and his family have lived for the last four years.
“I’m grateful for each club that I was part of it, each employee, each fan, each coach and to everyone of you who was involved in this long process as well as for your unfailing support,” part of the message said.
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It’s time to say good bye to the country that made me feel at home, I spent 4 years playing in USA wich 2 of them I was the MVP and the Golden Boot ( top scorer ) . I had many ups and downs but never gave up and I always tried to give my everything in ALL GAMES that I played ! I'm grateful for each clube that I was part of it, each employee l, each fan, each coach and to everyone of you who was involved in this long process as well as for your unfailing support. Needless to say that America will be forever in our hearts We lived the American Dream as best as We could. Thank you for letting me be part of this story that you are writing / É tempo de dizer um até breve ao país que me acolheu e me fez sentir em casa , foram 4 temporadas sendo MVP e artilheiro em 2 delas nesse período tive meus altos e baixos, ninguém consegue jogar bem todos os jogos mas mesmo assim não desisti de tentar e dar o meu máximo em TODAS as partidas ! Eu queria agradecer a cada clube , a cada funcionário, a cada torcedor , a cada treinador , a todos os envolvidos nesse longo processo pelo apoio e ajuda em todos os momentos e pelo carinho comigo e minha família e dizer que os USA nunca vai sair de nossos corações ! Vivemos o sonho americano da melhor forma Obrigado a todos ! #nasl #mls #unitedstates #life #love
The 28-year-old Brazilian joined the Lions before the start of the 2018 season and had limited playing time, recording just 595 minutes in 23 matches, but just five starts — he played an entire match just once. He scored just two MLS goals during his time in Orlando and one in the U.S. Open Cup. Although he scored only two league goals on the year, they were crucial ones. In the first game of the season, Pinho came on for the final 32 minutes and netted an equalizer three minutes into injury time. His second goal came in July when the Lions controversially fell to the Columbus Crew. While it wasn’t a winning goal, it did give the Lions the lead in the game.
Pinho was signed after he scored a hat trick against the Lions for NASL side Miami FC that knocked Orlando out of the 2017 U.S. Open Cup. He also played in the NASL with Minnesota United and the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, winning that league’s Golden Boot award twice.
With Pinho’s departure, the Lions have three strikers in their roster — veteran Dom Dwyer, Homegrown Player Benji Michel, and SuperDraft selection Santiago Patiño. Recently acquired Tesho Akindele also has experience at forward.