Orlando City Soccer reports back to training

Filed under: Orlando City Soccer,Orlando Sport,Sport |

Orlando City Soccer Training - 25th January 2016 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

Orlando City Lions reported back for training this morning  as they prepare for their second Major League Soccer (MLS) campaign.

The club also paraded their new signings defender Kevin Alston,  goalkeeper Joe Bendik and 13th overall 2016 MLS SuperDraft pick Hadji Barr. Perhaps even better news was that midfielder Kevin Molino was out practicing with the group continuing his recovery from an ACL injury.

Orlando City Soccer Training - 25th January 2016 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

Alston (pictured above) remarked that he’s excited about starting somewhere new,  “It’s a change for me… But I was ready for a change. I’m confident that we can strive for the play offs this year. I want to play my part and do whatever I can.”

The club also announced today that Niki Budalic will join the Club as Assistant General Manager. In this role, Budalic will report directly to Founder and President Phil Rawlins.

“I have known Niki for several years and am delighted that we have been able to recruit someone with his broad and diverse background in the game,” said Rawlins. “He has a good eye for a player, is a seasoned recruiter of talent and an experienced administrator. I am looking forward to him making an immediate positive impact on our soccer operations.”

“I’m excited to be joining Orlando City at such an important time in the Club’s history,” added Budalic. “I look forward to working with Phil, Adrian and the entire technical staff as we identify, recruit and develop the best talent to further our Club’s success.”

A former professional player for various clubs in North America and Europe, such as FK Haugesund in Norway, Montreal Impact and Toronto Lynx in Canada, Budalic’s vast soccer background extends off the pitch, working as a soccer professional in scouting, recruitment, player representation, consulting and coaching for both men’s and women’s soccer.

Budalic, who obtains a Masters of Business Administration Degree from Wilfrid Laurier University, has also gained tremendous experience working with prominent high-profile clubs, including Newcastle United, Everton Football Club, West Ham United, River Plate, Independiente and Pachuca.

The 37-year-old Ontario, Canada, native most recently served as the Director of Soccer Operations for Premier Development League (PDL) side Kitchener-Waterloo United FC, who won the 2015 National Championship.

Orlando City Soccer 2 Columbus Crew 0, U.S.Open Cup, Orlando Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Florida - 30th June 2015 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

Other good news the club is reporting is that it is has re-signed influential midfielder Darwin Cerén (pictured above) to a multi-year contract. The 2015 Major League Soccer Latino of the Year and Orlando City’s 2015 Players’ Player of the Year has signed a two-year deal with a two-year option contract. Per league and club policy, additional terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

“We are really pleased to have Darwin staying with us for many years to come, “ said Rawlins. “He has proven to be a class act and is a well-respected player within the organization. He represents himself, his home country and our overall brand with a high level of professionalism.”

Cerén, 26, re-signed with the Lions after a standout 2015 season. In addition to notching two goals, two assists and wearing the captain’s armband in several matches, City’s third ever MLS signing led the team in passes per game with 59.8 (5th best in MLS), and ranked 11th in MLS on both passing completion percentage (86.5) and average tackles per game (3).

One of the most beloved players by fans, the Salvadoran’s time with the Lions dates back to the 2014 USL season, where he made 23 appearances, scored two goals and helped lead the team to the 2014 Regular Season Championship.

Prior to joining the Club, Cerén played for Salvadoran side Club Deportivo Juventud Independiente for five years (2009-2014), playing a crucial role in the team’s promotion to the first division in 2010, and subsequently, excelling at the nation’s top level during the following campaigns, making a total of 83 appearances and scoring 15 goals.

On the international stage, the Quezaltepeque native is an important piece of the Salvadoran National Team, having registered more than 30 appearances for “La Selecta” after debuting in 2012, including Gold Cup and World Cup Qualifying fixtures, wearing the captain’s armband several times for his home country.

Orlando City opens the 2016 MLS season at the Orlando Citrus Bowl on Mar. 6 against Real Salt Lake. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET. For tickets or information on the 2017 season ticket waitlist, visit www.OrlandoCitySC.com or call 855-ORL-CITY.

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