Orlando City has a lot of rumored and reported moves coming this off-season but the Lions may have made their biggest one today, promoting and extending the contracts of Luiz Muzzi and Ricardo Moreira. Muzzi was named general manager, while Moreira will serve as Orlando City’s technical director. The club announced the promotions this morning.
“I’m pleased and grateful to have the opportunity to work with both Luiz and Ricardo. Their work ethic and commitment to the club has been strong from our first meeting, and we’re happy to have their expertise in player evaluation and roster development,” Orlando City Chairman Mark Wilf said in a club press release. “We look forward to their continued efforts to build a winning culture at Orlando City, and we appreciate their leadership in acquiring and fostering the right players here at the club.”
Muzzi was hired as the club’s executive vice president of soccer operations on Dec. 18, 2018. The former FC Dallas VP of soccer operations got the club out from under some bad and bloated contracts and started to remake the team and those changes helped the Lions reach the MLS Cup playoffs for the first time in 2020. The club then posted its most successful season in franchise history in terms of wins (13), home wins (8), points (51), and clean sheets (9) in 2021, reaching the playoffs for a second consecutive year.
“I’m very happy that we are able to provide continuity to this project that we began three years ago, and I am thankful to the Wilf family for putting their trust and confidence behind our vision,” Muzzi said in the club release. “I love working for this club, alongside the other great professionals in the organization, to represent our incredible community. While I’m proud of the progress we’ve made since joining Orlando City, we will work harder than ever to bring trophies to the club and to our fans.”
Moreira joined the Lions as the club’s director of scouting at the end of October 2018. A former law graduate, Moreira started his soccer career in 2014 at Grêmio Audax in São Paulo, Brazil. He joined the Columbus Crew in 2016 as the international relations manager. He became the head of player recruitment while there and was hired by Orlando in 2018 to fill a similar role. While in Columbus, Moreira helped the Crew identify talented players like Artur and Milton Valenzuela.
“First, I would like to thank the club for continuing to believe in me and for providing the tools so I can continue to grow within this amazing organization,” Moreira said in the club’s release. “Most importantly, I’d like to thank the Wilf family for trusting me to help this club achieve its on-field goals. The commitment to our project goes both ways and I am eager as ever to continue working with Luiz, Oscar and the front office to reward our fans and community with the championships they deserve.”
Muzzi and Moreira have worked well together in upgrading Orlando City’s talent and depth since their arrival. Important players such as Nani, Mauricio Pereyra, Robin Jansson, Pedro Gallese, Antonio Carlos, Junior Urso, and others have transformed the team’s fortunes on the field. The front-office duo also drafted talented MLS players such as Kamal Miller and Daryl Dike.
What It Means for Orlando City
The obvious benefit of this move is to continue having the service of two men who have proven their ability to identify talent and bring it to Orlando. With the ability to spend more money since the change in ownership, it will be interesting to see what they can do with a presumed bigger budget. The Lions have recently been linked to two potential multi-million-dollar signings out of South America — Facundo Torres and Gastón González. While neither of those has gotten officially over the finish line yet, it shows a renewed ambition by the club under Wilf family ownership. They did, however, recently bring in the club’s first-ever U22 Initiative player in Uruguayan midfielder César Araújo.
There have been very few misses in Orlando’s signings since Muzzi and Moreira arrived on the scene. Aside from Robinho and Matheus Aias, the players brought in under one or both men’s watchful eyes have basically done what they were brought here to do. Peruvian international goalkeeper Gallese was signed, while the entire back line — Joao Moutinho, Jansson, Carlos, and Ruan, along with key backup Rodrigo Schlegel — was assembled after the arrival of Muzzi and Moreira. Urso and Junior Mendez in the defensive midfield, and Designated Player Pereyra in the attacking midfield were all brought in since that time as well.
The task Muzzi and Moreira have now is replacing the club’s trio of talented departed attacking players — two of whom they brought in themselves. The club also needs striker depth and that could come soon with Alexandre Pato’s rumored re-signing and the drafting of Notre Dame forward Jack Lynn.