I would really like to see Orlando City sign a right back before the season starts. Right now, Mikey Halliday and Kyle Smith are the two most likely candidates to start there, and while neither is necessarily a bad option, they wouldn’t be my first choice. Smith is a dependable and capable defender, but doesn’t offer a ton going forward, and Halliday simply doesn’t have a ton of MLS experience yet, although he does have plenty of upside.
I’ve chosen three different guys who I think Orlando City could bring in, depending on what the Lions want to get out of the position. Obviously, in a perfect world, the Lions get someone like Julian Gressel, but fullbacks of Gressel’s quality don’t grow on trees, and I believe that each of the three guys I’ve picked isn’t a horribly unrealistic person to talk about the team signing.
Fuller is a 28-year-old Costa Rican who currently plays for CS Herediano in the Costa Rican top flight. Since joining Herediano in 2018, he’s played 164 games for the team across all competitions and has scored three goals and provided 20 assists, according to Transfermarkt. He’s also been in the Costa Rican national team setup since 2019 and has three goals and two assists in 34 appearances for the Ticos, including the only goal in their 1-0 victory over Japan at the 2022 World Cup.
In theory, Orlando City could take the route of signing Fuller if the team doesn’t yet think Mikey Halliday is ready for the big time, and wants to sign someone who can walk in the door and start. His attacking numbers don’t exactly light the world on fire, but in a scenario where Fuller is signed, I could him splitting attacking duties more evenly with new left back Rafael Santos, instead of what we saw for the last few years where Ruan was the one getting forward more often while Joao Moutinho tended to be more cautious. With his value estimated to be around $270,000, he’s also a guy who Orlando City wouldn’t need to break the bank on. He might not provide the kind of attacking punch that some of the better fullbacks in the league do, but with the attacking signings the Lions have made this off-season, the fullbacks might have less asked of them than has been the case in years past.
Beitashour will be 36 in February, and has been in Major League Soccer since 2009. He’s the definition of a veteran and is a guy that still seems to have a little juice in the tank, having made 19 appearances with 14 starts and logged 1,314 minutes for the Colorado Rapids last year, while chipping in two assists.
I see Beitashour as a guy that the Lions could sign if they want to start integrating Halliday into the team slowly, without either tossing him directly into the deep end or completely burying him on the depth chart. I wouldn’t expect him to be the full-time starter at 36, and OCSC could potentially strike a nice blend of the two starting the high number of games that the Lions will play this year, while allowing Halliday to learn behind a guy who knows the league inside and out. He likely wouldn’t be a potent offensive force from right back, but could be important in helping Halliday develop if Orlando sees the youngster as the eventual successor at the position. With a guaranteed compensation of $172,500 in 2022, he also wouldn’t be a terribly expensive guy to have on the roster, although the Lions would have to trade for him.
Cuadrado will be 35 in May, and has been with Juventus since 2015, where he’s racked up 24 goals and 65 assists across 287 appearances. While he was a winger earlier in his career, he’s since transitioned into more of a right back or even right wingback role.
While he’s entered the latter stages of his career, Cuadrado has still been a contributor for Juve this year, as he has three assists in 14 league appearances. While that production has dropped compared to previous seasons, he still has plenty of the speed, agility, and craftiness on the ball that he’s become known for. Importantly for the Lions, his contract at Juventus expires at the end of the season, and he’s a guy who could come in as a Targeted Allocation Money signing if Orlando is trying to make a short-term splashy signing to help with an MLS Cup push, a la LAFC with Giorgio Chiellini and Gareth Bale last year. He likely wouldn’t be starting every game, given his age and the fact that he’d be coming off a European season, but he could still provide valuable experience and firepower if OCSC wants a little extra punch to help with a potential trophy hunt.
What do you think of the names I’ve floated? Is there anyone that you’d like to see Orlando sign at the right back position? Be sure to have your say down in the comments.