Orlando City has yet to fully maximize its youth development potential. In the club's eight years in Major League Soccer, only a small handful of Homegrown players have ever played for the first team and only one of those players --- Benji Michel --- became a key first team regular.
Under head coach Oscar Pareja and general manager Luis Muzzi's leadership, Orlando's academy system has slowly started to rise throught the ranks of MLS. The youth teams found success, including a U17 championship.
That development in the academy system is finally leaking into the first team roster, and this season could see one of the biggest Homegrown breakthroughs in team history: Michael Halliday.
Halliday is a 19-year-old right back who signed with the club two seasons ago. The American defender has played 15 games in all competitions with the first team. He's been burried on the roster behind veteran right backs Ruan and Kyle Smith the last two years but that's changing this year.
The club traded Ruan to DC United ahead of the SuperDraft to land Duke attacker Shakur Mohammed. The Brazilian started for four seasons in Orlando, and moving on from a player with that experience is a risk.
Orlando is betting on Halliday to step up and become a real first team player. The Lions still have the experienced Kyle Smith, but even if the former Louisville City defender is the primary starter Halliday will have to play a role if Orlando wants to compete for trophies.
Halliday is a highly regarded prospect nationally. He recently earned an invitation to the US U20 national team training camp and has several appearances for the U20s. Halliday could be in line to start for the US at this summer's U20 World Cup as well.
There's a handful of talented prospects bubbling on the edges of Orlando's first team roster and throughout Orlando City B --- and we'll discuss them in due times as well --- but nobody has as clear an opportunity to impact the team right now as Halliday.