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Orlando City Signs OCB Goalkeeper Javier Otero to a Short-Term Contract

The 19-year-old OCB starting goalkeeper will join the team on its trip to New England tonight.

Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Orlando City announced the short-term signing this afternoon of academy product and Orlando City B starting goalkeeper Javier Otero. The signing makes Otero available for selection tonight in New England where the 19-year-old will likely back up Adam Grinwis.

Orlando City is without its top two goalkeepers for this game after Pedro Gallese played in Qatar in Peru’s World Cup Qualifying playoff against Australia on Monday and Mason Stajduhar had jaw surgery last week. The latter will miss six to eight weeks following the procedure. As a result, the team is left with the only other goalkeeper on the roster in Grinwis, resulting in the need for an additional shot stopper.

A Cumana, Venezuela native, Otero initially came to the United States to visit family that lived in Central Florida and decided to stay. After playing in high school, he tried out and made the Orlando City U-17 team and later the club’s U-19 academy team.

In 2020, Otero was signed to the club’s second team, OCB, where he backed up 2020 MLS SuperDraft pick Austin Aviza. He made his professional debut at 17 years old in the team’s final USL League One game on Oct. 24, 2020 against Greenville Triumph SC at Osceola County Stadium. He conceded four goals in a 4-1 loss that day but made eight saves.

This year, Otero continued with OCB as its starting goalkeeper for the inaugural 2022 MLS NEXT Pro season. Through 10 games, Otero has conceded 14 goals in 900 minutes but has made a league-leading 58 saves and recorded three clean sheets. His play resulted in the 19-year-old being named MLS NEXT Pro Goalkeeper of the Month in April.

What This Means for Orlando

Orlando City is short on goalkeepers heading into tonight’s match in New England, which resulted in the need to sign Otero to a short-term deal. The absences of Gallese and Stajduhar gave the club the option of signing a goalkeeper from the MLS emergency pool or calling up Otero for one game. The decision to call up Otero comes after the teenager has had an excellent start to the 2022 MLS NEXT Pro season.

The addition of Otero to the senior team roster for this game should be a seamless one. With the first team and second team training at the same location, the coaching staff has always had the option of having Otero train with the senior team. Additionally, as an academy product, Otero is eligible as a future Homegrown signing. Both Gallese and Grinwis’ contracts are up after this season, which could result in signing the young goalkeeper as early as next year.

As for OCB, the club’s second team doesn’t play until Sunday afternoon in Cincinnati. So no game time is being taken away from Otero while he’s with the first team. Instead, the club is able to provide a reward for a strong season by letting Otero spend some additional time with the first team.