ORLANDO, Fla. - Orlando City SC announced Monday the signing of Midfielder Austin Da Luz and former Orlando City U23s Midfielder Joseph Toby to the 2014 USL PRO squad, pending USSF approval. Toby and da Luz join the Lions in their final USL PRO season, with Head Coach Adrian Heath retooling the roster with an eye toward the club’s entry into Major League Soccer (MLS) in 2015.
Toby has spent time in the Orlando City pyramid system, playing for the Orlando City U23s in the Summer of 2012. Toby becomes part of a line of players who have been promoted from the U23s, including such standouts as Adama Mbengue and Oumar Diakhite. The midfielder was the second-ever signing by the Orlando City U23s when it began operation in early 2012.
“He’s has a lot of physical tools, as we’ve seen through our U23 team,” said Heath. “He’ll come in as backup to (Luke) Boden and it’ll be up to him to see if he can break through the squad. Our U23 team gives us a chance to watch and evaluate the players, which is of benefit to them as they may get a shot at the pro team.”
The Flagler College standout most recently played for IMG Academy Bradenton for the 2013 PDL season. Toby was one of the team’s standouts throughout 2013, appearing in 11 games while notching two assists in 913 minutes played.
Austin da Luz is familiar with Heath’s system, playing for him while in Austin for the Aztex in 2008. After the Aztex, and a successful career in college with Wake Forest, da Luz was drafted in the first round (14th overall) of the 2010 MLS SuperDraft by the New York Red Bulls. He made his debut at the 2010 Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic, scoring the winning goal in a penalty-kick shootout against the Houston Dynamo.
After a successful 2010, da Luz was traded to fellow MLS side D.C. United in July of 2011, making 14 appearances with the club. The midfielder most recently was on the NASL’s Carolina Railhawks, scoring four goals while notching five assists in 1,146 minutes played.
“Austin just had a great season in Carolina and has spent time in the MLS,” Heath continued. “He’s certainly got the talent. As people have seen him in the MLS, he’s a very talented footballer.
The Lions roster currently consists of Forward Dennis Chin, Midfielders Jamie Watson, Kevin Molino, Yordany Alvarez, Anthony Pulis, James O’Connor, Kevin Molino, Defenders Rob Valentino and Luke Boden, Goalkeepers Miguel Gallardo, Carl Woszcynski alongside da Luz and Toby. Former Midfielder/Assistant Coach Ian Fuller has moved into a permanent assistant coaching role while O’Connor has been promoted to player/coach.
Alvarez and Molino recently signed with the club for the 2014 and 2015 seasons, guaranteeing their spots on the MLS roster. The Toby and da Luz signings are for the 2014 season, but Heath has said multiple times that he is only bringing on players that he sees possess potential for a future slot on the MLS squad.
“We are preparing a squad that consists of players who we believe might make that jump with us,” said Orlando City Head Coach Adrian Heath.