Orlando City SC announced on Wednesday afternoon the signing of Oviedo, Fla., native Thomas Redding to a multi-year deal. At only 17 years old, Redding is the club’s first Major League Soccer (MLS) homegrown signing and is the youngest player on the roster.
“From the beginning, we’ve made no secret that the youth development aspect of our club is very important to us,” said Head Coach Adrian Heath on Redding’s signing. “Tommy has a lot of upside and is highly regarded by many in the soccer world, so we’re very pleased that he’s decided to begin his professional career with us.”
MLS’ homegrown player initiative was implemented in 2008 to allow young future professional players, located in MLS markets, to represent their hometown team. Despite being courted in the last year by premier professional clubs in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and England, Redding ultimately decided to start his professional career by representing the city in which he grew up playing youth soccer.
With the completion of the signing, the youngster is now eligible to play for the first team during the 2014 USL PRO campaign prior to the club entering MLS in 2015.
“I’m not surprised that the interest was there because he ticks a lot of the boxes that you look for in a modern-day central defender,” stated Heath. “He has a lot of potential and upside, and we’re very pleased that he has committed to us.”
Known as a quick and athletic defender, Redding is one of the elite players in the country for his age and has the ability to play multiple positions, according to Heath. The 6-foot-2 center-back is a current member of the U18 U.S. Men’s National Team, along with Orlando’s previous signing Tyler Turner, and made headlines after several impressive performances last year during FIFA U17 World Cup qualifying matches.
“We believe in our youth program and we believe in giving youngsters a chance,” added Heath. “We have two young players in our first team squad now, and hopefully they’re they first of many more.”