Player Contracts … key to who stays and who goes at Orlando City Soccer

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

After a hugely disappointing 2018 Major League Soccer (MLS) season, Orlando City Soccer is now moving on to evaluate their playing squad and to decide who stays and who goes. In truth, after the worst performance in the clubs four years in MLS, no player should feel they are entirely safe from the axe.

The reality of the situation, though, is that no matter how much Head Coach James O’Connor may want to move some of the players on, their contracts will largely dictate who will still continue to be paid by the club in 2019 and beyond.

At the time of writing this article the following were the playing contracts in place at the club and their expiry date for players who are not out of contract later in 2018:

30th June 2019 – Oriol Rosell

31st Dec 2019 – Sacha Kljestan, Will Johnson, Mohammed El-Munir, Joe Bendik, Donny Toia & Chris Schuler

31st Dec 2020 – Dom Dwyer

31st Dec 2021 – Victor “PC” Giro, Cam Lindlay & Shane O’Neill

31st Dec 2022 – Josué Colmán

The following are players whose contract runs out on 31st December 2018:

Jonathan Spector, Yoshimar Yotún, Cristian Higuita, Scott Sutter, Stefano Pinho, Dillon Powers, Richie Laryea, Chris Mueller, RJ Allen, Amro Tarek, Jose Villarreal, Tony Rocha, Earl Edwards Jr., Adam Grinwis, Mason Stajduhar, Pierre Da Silva & Carlos Ascues

The one player we haven’t been able to find this data on is Lamine Sane but given he joined the club in February of this year, it’s hard to believe his contract would run out in December 2018.

So Who Stays & Who Goes?

We’ll deal with the players whose contract runs out this year before moving to those still in contract.

The only players we’d definitely keep from the above list of expiring contracts are Yotún (pictured above), Mueller and Grinwis.

Yotún has been arguably the best player for City in 2018 but that really isn’t saying much. He’s still something of a defensive liability with being unaware of what is going on around him when defending but if the right deal can be put together, then he’d definitely be a reasonable squad player moving forward.

Mueller (pictured above) had a decent start to the season although performance levels dropped away as the team steadily declined. The 22 year old was the sixth pick of the 2018 MLS SuperDraft and he made 32 appearances in purple scoring three goals. The forward showed enough in 2018 for the club to justify giving him another contract.

Grinwis (pictured above) managed a few MLS games and although he made some errors, he did at least show some promise of developing into a reasonable keeper. He’s not at the level of being the type of keeper you need if you are serious about being successful in MLS just yet, but there were some encouraging signs from a young guy thrown into the team with the worst defensive record in MLS history.

On the list of players the club may want to consider keeping from the 2018 expiry list would be Higuita and Ascues. Ascues is an interesting one. Currently on loan from Peruvian Primera División side FBC Melgar, the center back or defensive midfielder joined Orlando in August 2018 and the club has an option for a 12 month extension. The Peruvian international played nine games for Orlando and the team looked more stable with him at the back.

Higuita has now played 98 times for Orlando and is currently the all time record holder for appearances with the club in MLS. He is the third in all time history behind Luke Boden (132) and Kevin Molino (124). The reason that Higuita is on this list is that 2018 was not a good season for him. He made just 21 appearances and although he scored a personal best four goals, he simply didn’t do enough to justify his selection week in, week out. He’s still a decent enough player and this years experience will have been good for his overall development.

So now we turn to those fortunate enough to have longer contracts. Of those, we’d keep Dwyer (pictured above), Bendik, El-Munir and O’Neill only. The rest we would dispense with if they could be placed elsewhere.

Dwyer deserves to stay not only because he loves Orlando and shows it every time he takes the field, but he was the leading goalscorer in 2018 with 13 goals in 26 appearances… not a bad haul when you consider the results the team was achieving. The only issue, regarding Dwyer, may come with the style of play that O’Connor may wish to play in 2019. Dwyer’s natural style is the hustling, bustling forward of yesteryear and if O’Connor decides he wants to play a more progressive style of soccer, then Dwyer is going to have to significantly adapt his game.

Bendik is a good goalkeeper at MLS level. That simple and that’s why he should stay. Four years behind such a leaky defence will shell shock anyone and Bendik allowed this to get to him in 2018. Some will have him down for leaving the club and if the right offer came in it could happen but we’d be reluctant to see him go.

El-Munir had a reasonable season. Some timely tackles prevented more goals being scored by the opposition and he looked a decent player going forward and whipping crosses in.

O’Neill had moments where he looked overwhelmed and his positional sense was questionable. He’s a player who is unlikely to move on though as he signed for the club in June and his experience having played for Colorado Rapids from 2012 to 2015 will prove invaluable as Orlando looks to rebuild their defence yet again.

So here’s our Retained List:

Yotún, Mueller, Grinwis, Dwyer, Bendik, El-Munir and O’Neill.

Our Probables:

Higuita and Ascues

Our Released List:

Jonathan Spector, Scott Sutter, Stefano Pinho, Dillon Powers, Richie Laryea, RJ Allen, Amro Tarek, Jose Villarreal, Tony Rocha, Earl Edwards Jr., Mason Stajduhar, Pierre Da Silva

Our Released List if another club can be found:

Oriol Rosell, Sacha Kljestan, Will Johnson, Donny Toia, Chris Schuler, Victor “PC” Giro, Lamine Sane, Cam Lindlay & Josué Colmán

So what will the club do? That’s now down to three men; Alex Leitao – CEO, Niki Budalic – General Manager for Soccer Operations and James O’Connor (pictured above) – Head Coach. Much depends on how many changes the club will allow O’Connor to make. It’s highly unlikely they will let Colmán and Kljestan leave but soccer is all about opinions and maybe, just maybe, it’s time to let a Head Coach have the major say in these decisions?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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