With the one-year anniversary of Orlando City’s MLS announcement passing the other day, it seems an appropriate time to look back to last year’s USL Pro team and see just where those players that have meant so much to the franchise over the years, have gone.
Out of the 24 players that were on last year’s roster, only eight have been retained to make the move to MLS—Homegrown Players Tommy Redding and Tyler Turner, Portuguese imports Rafael Ramos and Estrela, El Salvador captain Darwin Ceren, Trinidad and Tobago star Kevin Molino, and English imports Luke Boden and Harrison Heath. Each of these players were chosen because the coaching staff believed that they could be valuable assets to the team, come next year.
Out of the 16 players remaining, two players retired from professional soccer. Anthony Pulis, son of BPL coach Tony Pulis, retired to become the academy coach of Orlando City at the age of 30. Meanwhile, Yordany Alvarez was forced to retire due to a medical condition that he sustained after an on-field injury that could have affected his health if he had continued. Alvarez was only 28 at the time of his injury.
Of the 14 that are left, five of those players have new jobs with new teams. Three-year starter Miguel Gallardo was the inaugural signing for the Jacksonville Armada, the newest NASL team, set to begin play next year. Midseason signing Guiseppe Gentile moved on to the San Antonio Scorpions of the NASL. Gentile only played in seven games, and was not able to find the back of the net. Starting striker Corey Hertzog signed with I-4 rivals, the Tampa Bay Rowdies—also of the NASL. He appeared in six games, scoring no goals for the rest of their season. Midfielder Austin Da Luz returned to his former club, the NASL’s Carolina RailHawks. Da Luz appeared in six games for the RailHawks, but was also unable to find the back of the net through their season. Finally, the most recent former Lion to sign with a club was Carl Woszczynski, who signed with Arizona United for the upcoming 2015 season.
That leaves nine players that have yet to sign with a new team—fan favorite Dennis Chin, defenders Bryan Burke and Bitielo Jean Jacques, center backs Brad Rusin, Justin Clark, and Rob Valentino, midfielders Adama Mbengue and Aodhan Quinn, and goalkeeper Rafael Diaz. In case you missed it, Andrew caught up with Rusin last month. Orlando City failed to come to terms with Mbengue and he is seeking opportunities elsewhere.
Orlando City’s new USL Pro affiliate Louisville City is expected to sign 8 or so of these players, which leaves a few of these players’ fates to yet be undecided. I have my opinions about who I feel should make the move to Louisville, but what do you all think? Which former Lions out of these nine will transition to Kentucky?