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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Off-season Frustrations Edition

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Processing Dike’s departure, no new signings, and Mueller musings over the off-season.

SOCCER: NOV 23 MLS Cup Playoffs - Orlando City at Nashville SC Photo by Matthew Maxey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Here we are in 2022 with the start of Orlando City’s training camp only weeks away, and it seems there is a sense of frustration within the supporter community that nothing is happening. I understand, and sometimes share, this frustration, but I do my best to process the news (or lack thereof) in a professional and constructive manner.

The Good

Daryl Dike’s transfer to West Bromwich Albion was an overall good thing. I know that the Lions now have to replace one of the most dynamic, young American strikers, who has tremendous upside, but it would have been worse if he didn’t leave now. I know that Michael Citro and I suggested that Orlando City should sign Dike to a one-year DP deal with an option year, and I stand by that. However, once we didn’t hear anything on that front, it was obvious that Dike was moving on.

If a club has a player who wants to move to Europe and said player doesn’t do so in a timely manner, it can create issues both on and off the field for the team. If you don’t think so, I’ll remind you of the Cyle Larin and Chris Mueller stories. Orlando City refused to pay Larin commensurate with his skill and production. That ended ugly. The Mueller situation was different, and I will address it below, but it still could have gone better.

As Michael said in his article concerning Dike’s transfer, he will be difficult to replace. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Nor does it mean that a different type of striker or offensive threat can’t replace his goal and assist production. The transfer did two other very good things. First, Orlando City received a huge return on investment for a player the Lions took in the first round of the 2020 MLS Draft. Even though we don’t know the exact number, it is reportedly $9.5 million plus potential add-ons. That is a lot of scratch.

It also shows other young players that Orlando City is the type of club that looks out for the interest of the player and their upward mobility. I love MLS, but it is not the top league in the world, and as such is a selling league. Being the type of club that is willing to transfer a player to Europe is a big selling point for these up and coming players.

The Bad

Yes, it is bad that despite tons of rumors there haven’t been any new signings for the Lions. This is especially true given how much offensive production needs to be replaced with the departures of Dike, Nani, and Mueller. The Facundo Torres deal is particularly frustrating. It reminds me of that State Farm commercial.

From everything I’ve gathered, it seems that Torres wants to come to Orlando City, his family wants him to, even Club Atlético Peñarol supporters are good with it. However, Peñarol ownership doesn’t want to let him go for the deal that is on the table. I won’t pretend to know everything going on with their club, but if they are needing money then getting what was reported to be $10 million is a good deal. Despite what Gordon Gekko said, greed is not good.

Of course, the Torres deal is not the only rumor that hasn’t come to fruition, and that lack of anything happening has supporters poking the front office like the stick figure in the “do something” meme.

The Ugly

As I noted above, the departure of Mueller wasn’t handled in the best possible manner. I feel that with the club about to be sold to the Wilf family, the front office didn’t want to go out on a limb and sign the winger to a new contract. The result of that was Mueller leaving on a free transfer after the season for Hibernian FC — signing a precontract midway through the MLS season. The Lions couldn’t afford to lose Mueller, as they were trying to make the playoffs, and Hibernian didn’t offer up enough for City to let him leave early, but Mueller also wanted to move on. It was a lose/lose situation that probably could have been avoided. That’s not the ugly part.

The ugly part is how some “fans” online are treating a player that — despite wanting to be getting to know his new teammates the last few months — still gave 100% for Orlando. Say what you like about Mueller, but he doesn’t know how to give less than his all. He has the most appearances of anyone to ever wear the uniform, and he also scored 24 goals and contributed 21 assists in his time at Orlando.

Mueller is happy to be at his new club, and is showing that on social media. That is not only to be expected but also perfectly understandable. Stop nitpicking every little tweet. Stop projecting your own bitterness into his statements. Just stop. Be happy for a young man who gave quite a bit to this club as he moves forward in his career. If you’re having trouble doing so, I suggest you re-watch Ted Lasso, because you need some positivity in your life.

If none of that has made you feel any better, then think on this: The very fact that I wrote about all of this nearly ensures that much of it will be resolved within days, if it hasn’t done so in between my writing it and it being published. Vamos Orlando!