João Moutinho suffered a serious injury that saw him out of contention for a large portion of the previous campaign. The Portuguese left back appeared in 12 matches across all competitions prior to sustaining a season-ending hip issue. In the few appearances made, the 22-year-old showed that he could be the long-term left back for Orlando City given his immense talent and age profile. Unfortunately, Moutinho is set to be out of action for the next three to five months after undergoing successful surgery in December.
Seeing as Moutinho will be out of action for a good deal of time next season, the Lions must find a temporary fill-in to make up for his forced absence. On that note, here are three free agents who I believe could do so.
To start, let’s go with the under the radar candidate. Jimmy Medranda entered free agency after a season with the Seattle Sounders. The Colombia-born 26-year-old has struggled for game time since leaving Sporting Kansas City. In 2020, he managed just 20 minutes in MLS through three total appearances, as he was more of a depth piece for both Nashville SC and the Sounders. That said, Medranda has a good age profile and bags of versatility that would come with him to Orlando if the club decided to move for him. He is capable of playing as a left back, a central midfielder and even as a left winger.
The Colombian may not be the most glamorous signing. However, given his status as a free agent, coupled with his ability to play in multiple positions, signing him on a short-term deal may be a perfect stop-gap until Moutinho returns. He is also seemingly willing to be a rotational player and that could be very useful too.
Long-serving Toronto FC left back Justin Morrow has also entered free agency. If he is available, Morrow could be the perfect short-term solution to the Moutinho dilemma. The 2020 Humanitarian Award winner signed for the Canadian club in 2014 and has had an incredible tenure there.
This past season, the 33-year-old managed 15 appearances with the Reds and played an impressive 959 minutes. Similarly to Medranda, Morrow is a versatile player as well. Along with being able to play as a fullback, he can also put a shift in as a wing back or left-sided central defender.
Whether or not Morrow would be interested in a move down South is still to be determined, but it appears as if the veteran would really prefer to stay with Toronto.
“My expectation—my plan—is to be here with Toronto FC,” said Morrow. “I’ve expressed that to the club and they’ve expressed that as well. I want to finish off my career here playing in front of the fans that have given me so much and we’ve shared this beautiful thing together, and like I said, my mind is on keeping Toronto FC at the top of the league.”
FC Cincinnati bid farewell to Greg Garza after a pair of seasons. The 2017 MLS All Star and 2018 MLS champion is currently without a club at the moment and he may be a good option for the Lions. The American is still more than capable of bursting up and down the left side of the pitch and he may be the one candidate from this list who could stick around for the relatively long-term future. We’ll try not to hold his previous time in Atlanta against him.
An experienced international like Garza would provide competition for Moutinho once the Portuguese defender returns and would be a quality addition from the get-go as well. His signature may be coveted by a number of suitors though.
Of course, the left back in which Orlando City opts for does not have to be a free agent, However, it would be wise in my opinion for the Lions to acquire a free option who could play second fiddle to the former LAFC man in the future.
Moutinho could be the starting left back for years to come if what we saw from him is at all indicative of what he will deliver on a consistent basis. There is little need to make a splash at the position and financial resources could be used more effectively elsewhere.
Who do you think would be a good choice for Orlando City at left back? I’d love to hear your thoughts and candidates.