ORLANDO, Fla. - Following its USL PRO championship victory last week, Orlando City SC announced several roster moves on Friday in preparation for the 2014 USL PRO season. The roster moves were each made with an eye toward a possible 2015 entry into Major League Soccer.
“I honestly believe in a year’s time we will be in Major League Soccer (MLS), and that step is the big one,” said Orlando City Head Coach Adrian Heath. We are preparing a squad that consists of players who we believe might make the jump with us.”
Leading off the roster changes include promotion of James O’Connor to player/coach and Ian Fuller to a full-time assistant coaching role. Fuller has previously served as player/coach for the past three seasons with the Lions.
Players currently under contract for the 2014 season include Forward Dennis Chin, Midfielders Jamie Watson, James O’Connor and Defender Rob Valentino.
“We have very high long-term expectations at our club and aim to continually improve each season. The players returning here will have to perform better in 2014,” Heath continued. “Whilst winning the championship is very satisfying, some of the regular season performances were unacceptable to the standards we require at the club.”
Players currently with expired contracts but have received new offers by the club this week include: Midfielder Anthony Pulis, Defender Luke Boden and Goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo. The Orlando City coaching staff is also in discussions with Midfielders Adama Mbengue, Kevin Molino and Bryan Burke (pending full recovery of leg injury) to potentially return in 2014.
Out of contract players who will not be offered new deals include: Forward Long Tan; Midfielders Jean Alexandre, and Freddie Braun; Defenders Justin Clark, and Erik Ustruck; and Goalkeeper Sean Kelley. Rookies Brian Fekete and Jonathan Mendoza’s options were not taken up for the upcoming season.
The Sporting Kansas City loanees, including Dom Dwyer, Jon Kempin, and Christian Duke, have all returned to Sporting to finish out the remainder of the MLS season. Loanee Renan Boufleur has also returned to USL PRO side Phoenix FC, where he was loaned from in the middle of the 2013 season.