Orlando City undergoes offseason changing of the guard
Roster volatility is an unavoidable part of professional sports, and in Major League Soccer --- with shorter contracts and a place within the ever spinning global transfer market --- that volatility is more dramatic than almost any league.
This past year, the core of Orlando City that helped build the club up into a genuine contender and US Open Cup champions started to see its next wave of attrition. At the time of writing, three regular starters from last season's team and two key squad players have left the club.
Fullbacks Joao Moutinho and Ruan started almost every game for the Lions since both joined the club ahead of the 2019 season. Midfielder Junior Urso became an undroppable presence in the team's midfield after signing with Orlando in 2020, while Sebas Mendez played countless big minutes for the team before a midseason trade to LAFC. Striker Tesho Akindele joined the team in 2019 and became a reliable squad player and key leader for the Lions under head coach Oscar Pareja.
In addition to the players who've already left, forward Benji Michel --- one of Orlando's only succesful Homegrown players --- is still unsigned and may not come back to the squad either.
Those five players were a central part of Orlando City's core and replacing that level of quality and experience is a monumental task for the club's front office.
It's a transitional era for Orlando City, both on and off the pitch. With a new ownership group calling shots, change is natural. Last year, the club moved on from star figures Daryl Dike, Chris Mueller and Nani and brought in the likes of Facundo Torres and Ercan Kara.
Turning over key roster spots and roles is an important part of keeping teams fresh and constantly competitive in any league, especially a parity driven one. For Orlando City to grow from a bad team to a playoff team, it took a group of players to uplift the squad quality.
Now that core has run its course, and Orlando City needs to find the next group of players to continue chasing trophies and become the Champions League level club that its capable of.