Orlando City has announced its decisions and the status of all rostered players following the 2022 MLS season. The announcement includes exercising the options on five players and declining the options on two. Another 15 players are currently under guaranteed contracts for 2023 (or beyond), and the Lions have extended bona fide offers to two others, which will enable the club to maintain the right of first refusal for the players. With multiple players out of contract, Orlando City remains in discussions to potentially bring five of them back for 2023.
The group of players already under contract for 2023 includes forwards Iván Angulo, Gastón González, Ercan Kara, Jake Mulraney, Wilfredo Rivera, and Facundo Torres; midfielder César Araújo; defenders Antonio Carlos, Alex Freeman, Robin Jansson, Ruan, Rodrigo Schlegel, Luca Petrasso, and Thomas Williams; and goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar.
The club has exercised its options on forward Jack Lynn; midfielders Wilder Cartagena and Andrés Perea; and defenders Michael Halliday and Kyle Smith.
“This was another very successful season for us as an organization, winning the 2022 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and qualifying for the Audi MLS Cup playoffs for the third-consecutive season, and now we’re gearing up to go for even more next season, both in the league and in Concacaf Champions League,” Orlando City Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Luiz Muzzi said in a club press release. “As we begin preparing our roster for the opportunities to come next year, we want to thank the players who are departing the club. Their hard work and dedication has given everyone involved in the organization so much joy and so much to be proud of.”
Among those players departing from the club are forward Tesho Akindele and midfielder Joey DeZart. The club declined both players’ contract options.
The players who are out of contract are forwards Alexandre Pato and Benji Michel; midfielder Mauricio Pereyra; defender João Moutinho and goalkeepers Pedro Gallese and Adam Grinwis. Orlando City made bona fide offers to Michel and Gallese and are in discussions with both, along with Grinwis, Moutinho, and Pereyra about potential returns.
Additionally, the team has already parted ways with midfielder Junior Urso, who returned to his native Brazil for personal reasons, and lost Nicholas Gioacchini in Friday’s MLS Expansion Draft.
What It Means for Orlando City
There weren’t any big surprises in these decisions, but there were a few mild ones. Akindele was a good bench option, but it seems as if the club’s interest in bringing back Michel, whose goal contributions have dropped the last couple of seasons, might be an option to replace the Canadian’s role for less money. Michel made about a third of what Akindele made in 2022, according to the MLS Players Association salary release. If Michel’s services can be similarly affordable next season, he can take Akindele’s bench role and the team might be able to find a way to strengthen the forward group by adding someone this off-season.
The writing was on the wall for DeZart’s departure. Lynn’s option being picked up is a mild, but not huge, surprise, as he was not able to get MLS minutes and also didn’t make much of a mark in his loan to San Antonio FC. The 2023 season will be an important one for Lynn’s future.
Bringing back Cartagena, Halliday, and Smith is logical, and although Perea’s play wasn’t as strong in 2022, he’s still just 22. However, Pato never seemed likely to return once he returned to Brazil after his injury, and he has already said his goodbye publicly.
Uma história que irá ficar para sempre no meu coração!— PATO (@Pato) November 14, 2022
Obrigado a todos que estiveram comigo nessa caminhada e a vocês torcedores desse time tão especial!
Desejo muito sucesso para você @orlandocitysc estarei sempre na torcida.
Obrigado por tudo! @orlandocitysc pic.twitter.com/r31Psq1SUd
The most important off-season piece of business will be either re-signing Gallese or finding a suitable replacement. The Peruvian has been the best goalkeeper in the club’s history and it isn’t particularly close.
Pereyra is going to turn 33 in mid-March, and may close out his career in Orlando. My personal belief is that the Lions can upgrade this position, but if the club can bring him back without costing itself a Designated Player spot — something MLSsoccer.com’s Tom Bogert is reporting — he’s not a bad player to have on the field, even if he doesn’t score very often.
Moutinho’s case is interesting, because the club didn’t make a bona fide offer to the Portuguese left back, but is still in discussions to retain his services. Moutinho has long been rumored to return to Europe and has publicly stated he’d like to do so. When healthy, as he was this season, he’s one of the team’s most important players. Orlando City simply plays notably better when he’s on the field. The Lions went 1-2-2 in MLS play and 0-0-1 in the U.S. Open Cup (advancing past Nashville on penalties) without him while he was out from June 24 through July 13. It would be great to have Moutinho back, and he’s the toughest out-of-contract guy to replace after Gallese.
Grinwis is a great team guy and an excellent third goalkeeper. He might be the most replaceable of the players the team is in discussions with, but the Lions know what they’ve got with Grinny, and they’ll move forward hoping they don’t have to use him, because it means there are multiple injuries within that position group.
Post-2022 Orlando City Roster Status
(Current club players in italics)
- Tesho Akindele - Option Declined
- Iván Angulo - Under Contract (On Loan)
- Cesar Araujo - Under Contract
- Antonio Carlos - Under Contract
- Wilder Cartagena - Option Exercised (On Loan)
- Joey DeZart - Option Declined
- Alex Freeman - Under Contract
- Pedro Gallese - Out of Contract (Bona Fide Offer, in discussions with club)
- Gastón González - Under Contract
- Adam Grinwis - (in discussions with club)
- Michael Halliday - Option Exercised
- Robin Jansson - Under Contract
- Ercan Kara - Under Contract
- Jack Lynn - Option Exercised
- Benji Michel - Out of Contract (Bona Fide Offer, in discussions with club)
- Joao Moutinho - Out of Contract (in discussions with club)
- Jake Mulraney - Under Contract
- Alexandre Pato - Out of Contract
- Andrés Perea - Option Exercised
- Mauricio Pereyra - Out of Contract (in discussions with club)
- Luca Petrasso - Under Contract
- Wilfredo Rivera - Under Contract
- Rodrigo Schlegel - Under Contract
- Ruan - Under Contract
- Kyle Smith - Option Exercised
- Mason Stajduhar - Under Contract
- Facundo Torres - Under Contract
- Junior Urso - Contract terminated by mutual consent
- Thomas Williams - Under Contract