Orlando City announced today that midfielder Favian Loyola has been signed to a Homegrown Player contract ahead of the 2023 season. The OCSC Academy product becomes the club’s 13th all-time Homegrown Player after signing a three-year contract through the 2025 season with club options for 2026 and 2027. That contract goes into effect this upcoming Jan. 1.
“Favian is an exciting young talent that we’re happy to have been able to help grow throughout the course of the last few years,” Orlando City Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Luiz Muzzi said in a club press release. “His development and impact in the last year with Orlando City B amplified his continued improvement at every step since joining our academy, and we look forward to seeing his continued growth with our first team.”
The 17-year-old native of Camp Lejeune, NC, is coming off a breakout year in the club’s youth system which culminated with his selection to the 2022 MLS NEXT All-Star Game, in which he was named MVP. After starting the year on an academy contract, Loyola earned an MLS NEXT Pro deal, signing it in August. With today’s signing, he has become the first player to climb the club’s developmental ladder from the academy, to the current OCB setup in MLS NEXT Pro, to the first team.
He made 11 appearances with OCB (six starts), logging 669 minutes. In that time, he scored six goals to finish tied for second on the team, although he played 10 fewer games and 1,046 fewer minutes than fellow six-goal scorer Moises Tablante and seven fewer games and 840 fewer minutes than leading scorer Jack Lynn, who set an OCB record with 15 goals.
Loyola did not register an assist although he passed at a 75.7% rate and tallied 10 key passes — tying for fourth on OCB in chance creation. He fired 23 shots, getting 14 of them on target (60.9%) and chipped in 18 dribbles, five interceptions, two clearances, a block, and a 60% tackle success rate. He’ll need to work on his duel success after winning just 47.8% of 92 duels and 10% of 10 aerial duels in 2022. He won 15 fouls while conceding only 10 and was shown three yellow cards.
He has represented the United States at the U-19 level and took part in the Slovenia Nations Cup this past September.
What It Means for Orlando City
Loyola is one of the brightest young talents to come up through the academy and it seemed only a matter of time before he signed a Homegrown deal. Now that has happened and it is imperative that both he and the coaching staff continue to work on developing his game for the first team. The team’s most successful Homegrown Player to date has been Benji Michel, who has carved out a decent professional career, with 15 career goals and six assists across his first four seasons in MLS.
In addition to working on his duel percentage, Loyola will want to improve on his passing accuracy. After scoring all six goals in 2022 with his left foot, he’ll also want to develop other ways to put the ball in the net.
But Loyola has a chance to be special. He showed that in the MLS NEXT All-Star Game and down the stretch during OCB’s first season in MLS NEXT Pro, when he scored six goals in the team’s final 10 matches of the season, including a terrific two-goal performance in a 2-2 draw with FC Cincinnati 2 on Aug. 29, firing four shots and getting all of them on target.
It is likely that Loyola will spend most of the season with OCB, although he could see some late-game substitute appearances with the first team in 2023 if he earns that level of trust with the coaching staff. A great start to the season might even elevate him into some longer U.S. Open Cup appearances.
Loyola has a shot at becoming an important part of Orlando City’s future and getting him signed to a Homegrown Player contract is a good first step.