Orlando City signed left back Jonathan Suarez on loan from Quarétaro for the 2021 season. With first choice left back Joao Moutinho out of action until some time between April and June to recover from injury, the Lions had to bring someone in to fill the void. The left back area needed the most attention in the off-season, and the club opted for Suarez to fill in.
Like Brandon Austin, the 23-year-old does not take up an international spot, so on paper the signing is a smart choice. More importantly, many Orlando supporters may be wondering what Suarez’s addition means for the Lions on the field. Let’s dive into what exactly the loan will do for the Lions on the pitch.
While some questions could be asked about goalkeeper Austin’s experience, the same inquires do not apply to Suarez. The California-born defender has 55 appearances in Mexico and accumulated more than 3,600 minutes in those outings across all competitions. Suarez taking part in so many matches in Liga de Expansión MX could bode well for City going into the 2021 season.
What’s more is the fact that Suarez has an abundance of versatility in his skillset — the player can play as a left back, left winger, or as a defensive midfielder if need be.
Suárez can also play central midfield and left wing, so there’s some versatility there, which is vital from an expected depth player. It’s a loan, so it’s another low-risk move with potentially a high reward and fits the model the club has been using for the last couple of years.
Versatility is a pivotal attribute for depth players to have. If any injuries or absences occur at the aforementioned positions, Suarez can help soften those blows due to experience in multiple spots. The Quarétaro defender’s adaptability could see more playing time even after Moutinho returns. If he produces, Suarez could still be at the forefront of Oscar Pareja’s plans whenever that time comes.
Moutinho’s return shouldn’t be rushed and it doesn’t have to be now that Suarez is on the roster. Suarez can still be a useful rotational player to help ease Moutinho back in, and sweep up messes that could arise in other areas. The loan deal serves as a short-term solution with long-term potential, and that makes the acquisition all the more intelligent from Orlando City.
While there is little about Suarez out there for the Lions faithful to feast their eyes on until the season starts, Luiz Muzzi’s praise of the American should have supporters excited.
“Having proven himself to be a top competitor in Liga MX through his versatility, quality on the ball and strength in the buildup, we’re excited to see the different perspectives and skills that he brings to our back line.”
It is becoming clear that the side is prioritizing adding players who are good on the ball. That could mean the team’s protagonist way of playing is here to stay for a long time.
Austin and Suarez were both smart signings, and neither deal is likely to burn the club in any way at the end. The latter has an option to buy in his loan deal, but if the move does not work out, there is no obligation to permanently purchase the player.
Austin and Suarez both fit the same profile as they are suited for a side that prefers to play the ball out of the back. This clear sense of direction has me excited and it will be interesting to see how Suarez fits into MLS.