There have been many players in Orlando City’s Major League Soccer history. Some have become club legends, while others hardly saw the pitch. Then there are those who were supposed to do great things, but for one reason or another simply never made the impact everyone expected. Here are a few of them.
Orlando City acquired Matías Pérez-García from the San Jose Earthquakes in Aug. 2016. The Lions sent Darwin Cerén to the Earthquakes for the exciting midfielder. MPG was expected to solidify Orlando’s midfield and help provide another attacking option. It was thought he’d help fill the gap for Kaká when he was injured. Yet, in 28 games he only produced one goal and four assists. The price tag for that production was $260,000. While that amount paled in comparison to Kaká’s salary, it was still quite a bit for not much attacking firepower. He had been a Designated Player with the Earthquakes and part of his transfer agreement was that he would not count against Orlando’s DP slots. MPG never lived up to his price tag and was waived less than one year after he arrived.
Sean St. Ledger
Sean St. Ledger might not have been as hyped as some others on this list since he came to Orlando City as a trialist. However, he did earn a spot on the inaugural 2015 MLS roster, and seemed to be playing his way into a regular starting spot. St. Ledger had English Premier League and FIFA World Cup experience and could have lent a veteran presence to the Lions’ defense. St. Ledger played 1,213 minutes in 15 appearances and took six shots, with two of those on net. He committed 12 fouls and received one yellow card. His only goal came in Orlando City’s friendly against Ponte Preta. But mostly he just wasn’t a very solid defender, which was his primary job. St. Ledger was waived “for a serious breach of club policy.” Following Orlando City’s match against New York City FC on July 26, 2015 St. Ledger and Martin Paterson missed the team’s flight back from New York, which led to each player’s exit from the club.
Much has been said about how Justin Meram departed Orlando City, but he was a big signing when Orlando City brought him in. The Lions spent $1.05 million on the midfielder and it looked like a good move on paper. Meram had scored 13 goals and had seven assists the prior season for the Columbus Crew. Unfortunately, he never found his groove in Orlando, scoring only one goal and adding three assists. I think that there were many reasons it didn’t work out, some of which had nothing to do with Meram as a player. Regardless, bringing Meram to Orlando City turned out to be a big waste of money, although the club got much of that back when it traded Meram back to the Crew.
In January of 2018, Orlando City traded Carlos Rivas and Tommy Redding to the New York Red Bulls for Sacha Kljestan and $150,000 of Targeted Allocation Money. Kljestan was a huge name in MLS, and was seen as the player to help Orlando City unlock opposing defenses and provide service for the forwards, and chip in with the occasional goal. In the previous three years with the Red Bulls, Kljestan recorded 51 assists and 16 goals. That kind of production was desperately needed in Orlando City. Obviously, it didn’t work out. I don’t actually think it was a lack of effort or desire on the part of Kljestan. Regardless, the production fell off a cliff and Kljestan only managed nine assists and seven goals in his two seasons with the Lions.
To be certain, there are other players who didn’t measure up to the expectations. Paterson was expected to start at striker in 2015. David Mateos came out of Real Madrid’s system and was viewed as a solution on the back line. Giles Barnes wore the DP tag for a while. Brek Shea had come from England after seeing time with the USMNT. There were also multiple young DPs who never blossomed.
Let me know in the comments below who else you think should be included.