Orlando City SC has signed academy product Alex Freeman as the club’s 12th ever Homegrown Player. Freeman’s contract is guaranteed through 2025 with a club option for 2026.
“Alex is an exciting young player for us and another important example of hard work and dedication producing results,” said Orlando City General Manager and Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi. “Having him in the first team group for training on a regular basis and the opportunity to get consistent minutes in MLS Next Pro should create a great environment for him to develop his game even further than he already has.”
The 17-year-old Fort Lauderdale native made 30 appearances (28 starts) for the Orlando City Academy’s U-17 squad, scoring eight goals to go along with 15 assists to help his team capture the MLS Next Cup U-17 title a year ago — a major milestone in the academy’s existence.
The addition of Freeman makes him the sixth Homegrown Player on the current OCSC roster. The 6-foot-2 defender joins Homegrown back line teammates Michael Halliday and Thomas Williams, along with goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar and forwards Benji Michel and Wilfredo Rivera as academy products signed to first-team deals.
What It Means for Orlando City
It’s always great news when the Lions add a Homegrown signing. It shows young players that hard work can pay off with an MLS contract and that the team is looking to develop them from the bottom of the pyramid to the top. It’s good for the team as well, because Homegrown Players do not count against the club’s salary budget if they are registered using supplemental roster slots, but will still count against the salary budget if they are registered using senior roster slots.
However, Homegrown Players are still often hit-or-miss, as are any young prospects. Orlando City parted ways already with Raul Aguilera Jr. after signing him as a Homegrown Player just last year on April 5. That was a bit surprising, considering the Seminole High School product saw some MLS action as a 21-year-old in 2021, playing three games for a total of 92 minutes. Similarly, Homegrown midfielders Jordan Bender and David Loera did not have their options exercised after the 2021 season and spent some time out on loan a year ago.
Freeman has impressed enough to see some preseason action already in 2022. He’s clearly a player that Orlando City’s technical staff are interested in and they’ve given him some opportunities to get on the field.
Ultimately, it’s unlikely we’ll see many (if any) first-team minutes from Freeman in 2022, but he will likely be an important player with OCB in MLS Next Pro with an eye on developing him for the future.