Through a short statement released on Twitter this afternoon, Orlando City has announced the termination of left back Jonathan Suarez’s contract. The move comes after the news last week that Suarez and his brother had been arrested on rape charges, which resulted in Suarez’s suspension by Major League Soccer pending the results of police and independent investigations.
Orlando City SC, Major League Soccer Dissolve Contract with Jonathan Suárez. pic.twitter.com/rvS2J2jNZX— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) February 28, 2021
While no further details have emerged about the incident as of yet, Orlando City making the decision to terminate his contract allows both parties to move ahead without distraction. Orlando City has a history of standing by its players when they are under investigation, as the club did during Cyle Larin’s DUI arrest and when Will Johnson was arrested on domestic violence charges. Johnson was ultimately not prosecuted and returned to play for the Lions after serving a five-game suspension.
Suarez was never going to play a minute for Orlando if there was any truth to the arrest affidavit, Terminating his contract does not necessarily mean the club has a clear picture of whether the charges have any merit at this time. In time, the facts of the case will come out and we won’t speculate about them.
As far as Orlando CIty is concerned, the club will now need to bring in another left back as Joao Moutinho recovers from hip surgery. The only viable backup the team has under contract at the moment is Kyle Smith, who is right footed, and he is Ruan’s primary backup on the right side. Michael Halliday may prove to be ready to step into Major League Soccer, but he has yet to see any time with the first team.
It is unclear whether the Lions sunk any transfer money into the loan deal for Suarez — which included a purchase option for the club after one year. At the time of his signing, Suarez seemed a good option, as he would not require an international slot, he was budget friendly, and he could easily shift back to the bench when Moutinho returns. That’s all beside the point now.
Orlando City will now have to hit the market again to find coverage for Moutinho following this awful situation.