Orlando City officially announced the signing of Dutch attacking midfielder Silvester van der Water from Heracles Almelo of the Eredivisie, the top flight of Dutch soccer. The 24-year-old winger has a three-year deal with a one-year option using Targeted Allocation Money (TAM). He can join the Lions after his P-1 Visa and international transfer certificate have been received.
“We are excited to bring Silvester to Orlando and to Major League Soccer,” Orlando City Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi said in a club press release. “Silvester is an exciting, up-and-coming player that we have been targeting for a while. He will add yet another different dimension to our attacking corps, as we get ready to challenge for titles in a very fixture-packed year.”
The native of Blaricum, Netherlands was originally linked with Orlando City last September but a deal never materialized. Heracles had just lost some key players and was reportedly not willing to part with van der Water. According to reports, van der Water himself was so set on a move to the U.S. that he chose to sit out a game to try to force the club to sell. According to this story, van der Water has since expressed regret with that decision.
Multiple online outlets reported days ago that Orlando City SC was in the process of finalizing the transfer, and it was confirmed by Paul Tenorio of The Athletic that the deal would involve TAM due to the size of the transfer fee.
Can confirm via a source that Orlando City is finalizing a TAM deal for the Dutch winger. Hits TAM level because of a transfer fee. https://t.co/xPYM5qazrL
— Paul Tenorio (@PaulTenorio) February 19, 2021
At the Eredivisie level, van der Water has scored 10 career goals and added eight assists in 53 appearances since joining Heracles, per Transfermarkt. He also scored 12 goals in 16 reserve league games, most of which came during the 2018-2019 season. He added three goals in seven cup appearances with Heracles.
Prior to joining Heracles, van der Water spent three seasons with Almere City in the Dutch second division from 2015-2018, appearing in 56 games and scoring 18 goals in league play, with two cup competition appearances. He also scored three goals in seven playoff matches. He nearly helped Almere City earn promotion to the Eredivisie, but the club lost 3-2 on aggregate in the two matches of the final.
What it Means for Orlando City
Orlando City just acquired an international roster slot in a trade with Columbus, which van der Water will require. However, it’s unknown whether the slot was acquired for Alexandre Pato or was procured for this particular transfer. If the former, the Lions will need another one or for an international to acquire a green card prior to the 2021 season.
Van der Water fills one of the final off-season needs of the club, as someone who can come in and add quality in the attack from the wing. This will enable the club to rotate the squad more equitably than last year and it protects the club in the event that suitors from abroad come calling for Chris Mueller with an offer too good to turn down. The Dutch attacker can also play on the left side, which is actually his dominant foot, allowing the team some flexibility to rest either Nani or Mueller. It’s uncertain if he could also cover for Mauricio Pereyra centrally, but that’s a role that Pato could conceivably fill in the short term if need be, playing beneath a more advanced striker.
Orlando City has now filled its needs for left back depth, a backup goalkeeper, a veteran striker, and another attacking piece for the midfield. While no obvious replacement has been found for Alex De John, the Lions did draft two center backs in January.
This is a player the Lions have been targeting for some time and now they have him for the next few years. Time will tell if the move works out and how it affects the shape and starting XI, but it’s never a bad idea to add quality to the attack in Major League Soccer. Hopefully van der Water will be worth the TAM-level price tag.
Here are some highlights: