Orlando City SC announced this afternoon that midfielder Jordan Bender has been signed to a Homegrown Player contract. The 18-year-old midfielder spent the 2019 season with Orlando City B in USL League One.
Bender came up through the Orlando City Development Academy before being signed to OCB last year. He played with the first team for much of the preseason before playing with the club’s second team in the third division. He made 16 appearances with 12 starts in 2019 with the young side.
“Jordan’s journey is the blueprint of exactly how we envision the pathway and future of the Orlando City SC development pyramid,” Orlando City Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi said. “As a player who started in our academy, made his way to OCB, and has now signed with our MLS team, Orlando City is in his blood. He has also trained and played in preseason games with the first team, so he understands what it takes to succeed in MLS. We are extremely excited about the potential and upside that Jordan possesses and we look forward to him continuing to grow within our organization.”
The Lake Mary native joined Orlando City’s academy at age 12. He’s the fourth player to make the jump from the academy to OCB to the first team but the second to do so as a Homegrown Player and play minutes for OCB. Pierre Da Silva, Mason Stajduhar, and David Loera previously made the jump but Da Silva was not a Homegrown Player and Stajduhar never appeared for OCB, although he did make the bench a few times.
Bender is the second Homegrown Player signed by the team this week. Monday, Loera was signed to a Homegrown contract as well.
What It Means for Orlando
The Lions continue to invest in the team’s academy players and the future. Bender did not look terribly out of place in the preseason last year and that speaks well of his ability. Unfortunately, he struggled through an injury early in the year and put him a bit behind the 8-ball.
Bender will likely return to OCB for 2020 and continue his development. The midfielder needs more development and although he’ll most likely be seeing USL League One action in 2020, he’ll benefit from training with Orlando City’s senior team at the club’s new training facility day after day.