No sooner had Orlando City signed on a new forward, the Lions sent one out on loan. Second-year forward Santiago Patiño, the no. 3 overall selection in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft, is headed to Mexico. Patiño is going on loan to Cimarrones de Sonora Fútbol Club of Mexico’s Liga de Expansión MX for the remainder of 2020. The second-division Mexican side is 1-0-0 early in its Apertura season after a 2-0 win over Tapatío on Wednesday.
“We’re excited about this opportunity for Santi to gain additional experience and some competitive minutes with Sonora, which will be an important opportunity for him,” Orlando City Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi said in a club release. “We look forward to seeing his continued development and how he fares in his time in Mexico.”
Patiño, 23, has since made 13 appearances in MLS regular season play, with three starts, scoring two goals with one assist. His last goal came July 18, 2019 on the road against the Portland Timbers in a 1-1 draw. That came just two matches after his first MLS goal — a strike against the Philadelphia Union in a 2-2 draw in another road game. The Florida International product played only eight minutes in the Lions’ last eight league matches, although he did come on multiple times during the knockout stage of the MLS is Back Tournament.
As a rookie, Patiño earned a composite grade of 4.5 in our Season in Review for 2019, but showed some promise. As our Ben Miller wrote:
Patiño was unable to sustain the momentum from his debut across the rest of his rookie season. He found opportunities hard to come by and only played more minutes than Greg Ranjitsingh and Robinho. It feels harsh to call his 2019 a disappointment but Orlando surely would have hoped for more out of its first-round draft pick.
Today’s addition of Matheus Aias, however, would seem to indicate that minutes will be hard for him to come by in Orlando in 2020, with rookie Daryl Dike also pushing for playing time.
What it Means for Orlando City
The Lions will hope Patiño can develop with more minutes elsewhere than he would have gotten in Orlando this season. With it already being August, there’s not too much of 2020 left and the loan deal ends at the conclusion of the calendar year. Matheus can now occupy Patiño’s spot on the active roster.
Even if it turns out that Patiño doesn’t end up in Orlando City’s future plans, this loan will provide an opportunity for him to get on the field and potentially raise his value in the transfer market. But, in the end, this loan makes sense for a young player who isn’t likely to see a lot of minutes in Major League Soccer this season and the club can reassess him at the end of the year.