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Orlando City’s Quiet Off-Season

The Lions are being smart, not splashy, in building a sustainable club.

Orlando City SC v FC Dallas Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images

Everyone loves it when their club makes a big, splashy signing in the off-season — the type of player signing that grabs the headlines for the entire league rather than just for the individual club. That is exciting, but is that always the best thing for a club to do? The answer is, of course, no, and that applies to Orlando City during this off-season.

I am not saying that the club wouldn’t take a big name if the deal was too good to pass up, but Óscar Pareja, Luiz Muzzi, and Ricardo Moreira are trying to build sustainable success in a salary cap league. That means taking care of the core group of players, building depth, and adding players who fill a need, but are still a good bang for the buck.

A case in point is the signing of Robin Jansson to a new two-year deal with two additional option years. As our Michael Citro explained, keeping the Beefy Swede paired with Antonio Carlos for the next few years does a ton of good when it comes to building on Orlando City’s 2020 success.

I understand that some might feel like nothing has been happening this off-season, but here is a list of everything the club has done:

  • Signed Robin Jansson to a new two-year contract.
  • Signed Mauricio Pereyra to a one-year contract extension.
  • Made Antonio Carlos’ transfer permanent and signed him to a three year contract.
  • Exercised options on Joey DeZart, Benji Michel, João Moutinho, Chris Mueller, Ruan, Kyle Smith, and Mason Stajduhar.
  • Made the transfers permanent for Alexander Alvarado, Rodrigo Schlegel, and Andres Perea.

Tesho Akindele, Matheus Aiás, Jordan Bender, Daryl Dike, Pedro Gallese, Michael Halliday, David Loera, Sebas Méndez, Nani, Uri Rosell, and Júnior Urso were already under contract, so there was nothing for the front office to do with respect to them.

The other big news was that Dom Dwyer entered free agency. This was expected by many and predicted numerous times on The Mane Land PawedCast. This so-called lack of a move freed up money for Orlando City to keep some of the players mentioned above.

We have not seen much of Aiás and Alvarado. I expect that to change next season, once these players have a partial season, a full off-season, and a full preseason under their belts. Remember how different the Lions looked after Pareja had time with them? Now add two players that Moreira, Muzzi, and Pareja brought in to that formula.

There is every reason to have confidence in the gentlemen building this club given the recent track record of on the pitch success. The Lions had their best season in MLS, made the playoffs, competed for a tournament title, and raised eyebrows across the league.

So now I return to the idea of a big signing. I am in no way saying that there won’t be a significant signing or signings. However, we need to define what significant means. I fully expect there to be additions to positions of need including center back, fullback, striker, and the attacking midfield. As for goalkeeper, it will depend on whether Orlando City is able to bring Brian Rowe back on a new contract, or if the club will try to find another backup level keeper.

Orlando City likely won’t be spending multi-millions on any one player no matter how much that makes the headlines. Last year, Orlando City set the foundation of the build, and now it is time to shore that foundations up, and start to build on top of it. That takes more than one signing period. Now that I’ve written all of this, expect to see Lionel Messi sign with Orlando City any day now.