Inside a press box suite overlooking the pitch at Exploria Stadium, with the window fully open, Orlando City General Manager Luiz Muzzi is buzzing with emotion.
The Lions are entering halftime of Wednesday night’s Open Cup semifinal match against the New York Red Bulls tied at one after a late César Araújo goal before the break. Eventually, that goal would position Orlando for an explosive second half that would see them advance to the final after a 5-1 victory.
Midway through the 2022 season, Orlando City is sitting within playoff range and slated to play in their first ever Cup final in September, despite some inconsistent results for much of the year.
However, the Lions brought in some reinforcements during this current summer transfer window, with wingers Nicholas Gioacchini and Iván Angulo – moves Muzzi believes will enhance Orlando’s attacking options.
“They’re a little bit different; they’re both offensive threats,” Muzzi told the Orlando Soccer Journal. “We see Niko as a guy who has great potential, and he’s been underutilized in Europe… I think that him coming to MLS is the right choice for him and for those players who are out there not getting games.”
“Iván is a winger who can give you speed and 1-v-1, something that we need to add to our game right now,” added Muzzi.
Angulo’s playing status remains unclear, however. According to Muzzi, the international transfer certificate and visa are the only things delaying the Colombian’s availability – the latter which is out of the team’s control.
With the MLS secondary (summer) window open from July 7 to Aug. 4, Muzzi recalled what he said on July 9 in regards to Orlando’s activity in the transfer window:
“Our cap is a little tight, but we’re getting creative, and the window is not closed yet,” Muzzi said. “We still have some days to go, so anything can happen.”
The team dealt longtime midfielder Sebastian Mendez earlier this month to Los Angeles FC for a total of $750,000 in General Allocation Money broken down into three seasons ($300,000 in 2022, $225,000 in 2023, and $225,000 in 2024).
A move, the OSJ has learned, that was discussed for some time now between Mendez’s representatives and Orlando City officials. In the end, the deal was made amicably between the two sides.
Gallese/Moutinho renewals ongoing
Pedro Gallese and João Moutinho’s contracts with Orlando are set to expire at the end of the year, and talks about renewing them are still ongoing.
“He’s an unbelievable goalkeeper, and we continue to talk,” Muzzi said about Gallese. “We’d love for him to stay. We want to do whatever we can, and we’ve been discussing and conversations continue.”
“We want to make right by the players,” he added. “If there’s something that made sense for him, let’s say Real Madrid comes knocking and offers $10 million, I’m not gonna say you can’t go to Real Madrid, [so] we want to make right by the player. We want him to stay, and that’s where we are.”
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