[Update: The Mane Land has learned that Tarek was not only owed an unspecified pay increase on his contract option for 2019 but also a portion of his transfer fee was still to be paid, which will now be paid by the Red Bulls.]
Orlando City has traded Egyptian international center back Amro Tarek to the New York Red Bulls for a fourth-round selection in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft. That’s it. That’s all the Lions got for a guy who was, at times, the team’s best center back in 2018.
Aside from a rough patch upon his return from the Egyptian Men’s National Team when he’d been left off the World Cup roster, Tarek played well this past season, starting and ending the year strong. He made 20 appearances with Orlando City this season (19 starts) after being loaned from Egyptian side Wadi Degla with an option to purchase back on Feb. 2. The 26-year-old’s option was picked up after the season in which he earned only $88,333.37 — a great value for what he was able to provide in 2018.
Tarek scored one goal in his 1,697 minutes this season, completing 78.2% of his passes and averaging 1.6 tackles, 2.5 interceptions, 4.2 clearances, and one block per game. He was issued three yellow cards and was not sent off. Among his fellow defenders, only Lamine Sané averaged more clearances per game and only Carlos Ascues matched his blocks per match.
What This Means for Orlando City
I would love to find a positive spin to put on this, but the Lions actually got more for little-used fullback PC than they did for Tarek. The fact that the Supporters Shield winners wanted him speaks very highly of the Egyptian. He may have asked to be moved, and in that case the club absolutely should do right by the player and move him, however, there’s no reason to accept so little value in return for him and there was no real hurry to make this happen now.
Tarek wasn’t costly, was good with his feet — making him suitable for either a four- or three-man back line — and had good pace for a center back. He didn’t cost much — unless his deal stipulated he was about to get a big raise if his option was picked up — and as a dual citizen, he didn’t require an international slot. On the other hand, fourth-round draft picks do work out wonderfully once every blue moon, so this trade could totally work out in Orlando’s favor, you guys!
This is one of the more curious moves the club has made since joining Major League Soccer, and that’s saying quite a bit. The squad finally had some depth at center back despite the fact that injuries, suspensions, and international duty forced the Lions to use 26 different back line combinations in 2018. That depth is eroding away, though there’s a long way to go in the off-season. Until the full roster picture becomes clear prior to the 2019 season, we’ll have to wait and see how this plays out.