Orlando City has signed 2020 second-round pick Joey DeZart to a first team contract ahead of the club’s sixth MLS season. The fifth selection of Round 2 (No. 31 overall), DeZart impressed Tuesday night against KR Reykjavik and has apparently done enough to warrant a contract.
“We’ve been extremely pleased with Joey’s progression and skill set shown during the preseason and are very excited to be able to offer him a contract with the first team,” Orlando City Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi said in a club press release. “Joey has shown great composure on the ball, vision on the field and we expect him to provide some additional depth and competition in the midfield.”
The 21-year-old defensive midfielder out of Wake Forest helped his college team’s defensive unit record 13 clean sheets in 2017, seven more in 2018, and 10 this past season. He made 65 appearances for the Demon Deacons (53 starts), scoring two goals and adding four assists. At the international level, DeZart was called into camp for the Jamaican U-20 National Team in 2016. During the past three summers, DeZart has joined Reading United AC of USL League Two.
What it Means for Orlando City
DeZart’s signing is a positive development for the Lions. He provides another young presence that can grow over time with the team. The Lions continue bolstering the defensive midfield following the departure of Cristian Higuita, Will Johnson, and Carlos Ascues. Along with returners Sebas Mendez and Uri Rosell, the club acquired Andres Perea on loan from Atletico Nacional and added Junior Urso. DeZart joins a strong defensive midfield group and can learn from the more experienced players on the team ahead of him on the depth chart.