Assessing things after a busy December for Orlando City

Orlando City vs Toronto MS 20180714

©2018 Maddie Schroeder

Every offseason tends to be a mixed bag for Orlando City in terms of how often and what kind of moves the club tends to make after the final roster decisions have been released and the league acquisition mechanisms begin to pop up left and right.

Last offseason, for example, the club worked plenty of deals, though much of it after the new year, causing some unrest among the fan base in how long it was taking for things to happen.

The 2018 offseason, however, has come in a different manner, with the Lions being much more active in the early market, making December a very busy month for the front office staff — including new Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations, Luiz Muzzi.

So let’s take a dive into the moves and what that means for the club now and the rest of the offseason moving forward.

The deals so far:

  • $150,000 in Allocation Money: $100,00 in Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) in 2019 and $50,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM) in 2020 to FC Dallas for Tesho Akindele
  • Victor “PC” Giro to Vancouver Whitecaps FC for a 2019 Super Draft third round pick
  • Mohamed El-Munir to Los Angeles FC for Joao Moutinho
  • Amro Tarek to New York Red Bulls for 2019 SuperDraft fourth round pick
  • Rights to Tony Rocha to New York City FC for 2019 SuperDraft fourth round pick
  • Signing former Louisville City FC goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh and defender Kyle Smith
  • Rights to Earl Edwards Jr. to D.C. United for 2019 SuperDraft second round pick

What it means to the budget

The end-of-season roster cuts saved the Lions a nice chunk of salary cap space right off the bat, shedding about $1.2 million off the books for 2019 (under a salary cap that will hit $4.24 million for the upcoming season), and that trend continued with the moves the Lions have been making over the last couple of weeks.

Trading away PC ($95,312.50), Tarek ($88,333.37), and El-Munir ($192,833.29) takes at least another $377,000 off the payroll — not a huge amount, but there has been chatter that Tarek was due for a sizable raise in 2019.

Bringing in Akindele brings in at least the $123,000 he made in 2018 (plus whatever raise he was due for 2019), and while Moutinho was due to make at least $170,000, he won’t count against the cap because of the Generation Adidas contract he signed with MLS before the 2018 SuperDraft. That’s a big plus in addition to the upside he brings on the field.

NOTE: Player salaries are available via the MLS Players Association site.  

Now, we won’t know what Ranjitsingh and Smith are making until the first salary drop from the MLS Players’ Union sometime in May, but being USL signings, I’d wager they’re somewhere around the league minimum, both under $100,000.

So, let’s say those two are on the minimum (which for 2019 is $70,250), that’s $140,500, plus Akindele’s $123,000 (at least), to make $263,500. That’s saving, at a minimum, almost $115,000 next season, not including Moutinho’s un-counted salary. In a league with a cap so small, every bit of space can help.

What it means to the SuperDraft

You may have noticed the club has gathered a nice little pile of picks for January’s MLS SuperDraft. With seven selections in all now, the club currently owns the No. 3, No. 27, No. 38, No. 59, No. 75, No. 94 and No. 96 picks.

Why this stockpiling of a near use-less asset? Well, this could just be the answer. The SuperDraft, historically, has meant little to MLS club in terms of long term build, as this fun little graph shows:

With Edwards Jr.’s right being traded to D.C., Chris Mueller is currently the only draft pick on Orlando’s roster still, even if it is after just one season — with that said, the odds of him last past 2019 aren’t great.

Draft picks, especially late round picks, are an easy thing for clubs to do away with, so when it comes to a trade as basic as acquiring rights, why not?

As for how what this all means to Orlando City, past pick No. 3, probably nothing. More than anything, you’ll likely see most of the team’s selections — if not all of them — sign or appear with Orlando City B, in USL League One. The roster is still largely empty and there’s far more upside than downside in picking a handful of college players in hopes that one of them develops well enough at the pro level to possibly earn a pathway into the first team.

How the roster stands currently

Goalkeeper: Greg Ranjitsingh, Adam Grinwis, Mason Stajduhar

Defenders: Carlos Ascues, Shane O’Neill, RJ Allen, Lamine Sane, Kyle Smith, Joao Moutinho

Midfielders: Josue Colman, Pierre Da Silva, Sacha Kljestan, Will Johnson,Dillon Powers, Cristian Higuita, Oriol Rosell, Yoshimar Yotun, Cam Lindley

Forwards: Dom Dwyer, Chris Mueller, Stefano Pinho, Tesho Akindele

The larger focus of the offseason currently looks like the defense, which is understandable after the club set an MLS record for goals allowed (74) in a single season. Moutinho and Smith are both fullbacks, but there still needs to be more attention paid to that spot on both sides of the deal, and the club is far from looking at the center back spot as well, with plenty of work still to be done in central defense.

It would be nice to add one more goalkeeper into the mix, otherwise we’re looking at Grinwis and Ranjitsingh competing for the starting job in preseason — leaving much more to be desired in front of goal.

(Staff File Photo Courtesy of Maddie Schroeder) 

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