Orlando City has announced the signing of top 2021 draft pick Derek Dodson to a one-year contract for 2021 with club options for 2022, 2023, and 2024, meaning the former Georgetown star forward is now officially a Lion. The club is adding Dodson to its supplemental roster.
“We’re excited to add Derek to the group now after allowing him to return to Georgetown for a majority of his senior season,” said Orlando City SC Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi in a club press release. “A team captain there this year and in 2019, he’s shown himself to be someone that leads from the front, has a great appetite for goal and comes in ready to put in the work for the season ahead.”
Dodson, 22, was Orlando City’s first selection (No. 8 overall) in the 2021 MLS SuperDraft. The Georgetown product left college just a couple of weeks after Hoyas (and now Lions) teammate Rio Hope-Gund departed and signed an MLS deal. Orlando City secured the No. 8 pick by trading $75,000 in 2021 General Allocation Money (GAM) and $25,000 in 2022 GAM to the Portland Timbers.
With goalkeeper Andrew Pannenberg signing with Colorado Springs of the USL Championship on April 9, the only unsigned 2021 Orlando City draft pick is defender Brandon Hackenberg out of Penn State. Hackenberg was the No. 22 overall selection in this year’s SuperDraft.
Muzzi said this of Dodson on draft day:
“We had [Derek] Dodson in mind and No. 8 is where we thought he was going to go. We liked Dodson a lot, since we saw him play last year in the final, and we thought this a great move to get a guy that we really wanted. We think there’s a lot of talent. We think that college is a part of our system and we value our system. There’s a lot of good players in college, a lot of great programs out there that do a great job. We’re really happy.”
Dodson played 72 matches in three seasons at Georgetown (54 starts) and was a dynamic scorer, racking up 32 goals and 14 assists. Of his 32 goals, 10 were game winners and he scored on three of his four penalty kick attempts. He is a three-time All-Big East selection.
During his 2019 season, the 6-foot native of Aurora, IL was one of three team captains, earned United Soccer Coaches All-America honors, was named to the Big East All-Tournament Team, and won the Big East Offensive Player of the Week award on Oct. 27. He was the Big East Freshman of the Year in 2017.
What It Means for Orlando City
With Dom Dwyer moving on, there was room on the roster for an additional forward. Daryl Dike’s emergence last year, along with his success on loan to Barnsley, means that his stay in MLS could be short-lived. Dodson’s addition will provide some cover on both fronts, and with the injury to Alexandre Pato, he can add some depth at the position.
Furthermore, Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja has been able to develop young players, as seen last year when both Dike and Joey DeZart got on the field often as rookies and youngsters like Andres Perea played vital roles on the team. If Pareja can develop Dodson, his selection will look good down the road for Orlando.
Dodson took 184 shots in his 72 collegiate matches (2.56 shot attempts per game) and got 80 of them (43.4%) on frame, so he’s got an eye for goal. That’s a skill that the Lions could use and one that is vital for any striker at the MLS level.
All five of the Generation Adidas players came off the board before Orlando selected, so the Lions will get no cap relief for Dodson. Orlando trading up to make this pick makes this selection vital, as the GAM the team parted with is a valuable asset. Muzzi and company have worked the draft well in the past, so we’ll wait to see how Dodson develops.