Orlando City announced the acquisition of defender and midfielder Luca Petrasso this afternoon from Toronto FC. In exchange for the 22-year-old Canadian, the Lions sent $300,000 in 2023 General Allocation Money (GAM) to Toronto, with the potential for another $50,000 in 2024 and again in 2025 if certain performance metrics are met. As a Homegrown Player, Petrasso isn’t eligible to be selected in the upcoming MLS Expansion Draft. Petrasso is the first player Orlando City has added this off-season.
“Luca is a very technical player that can play anywhere on the left side of our formation, from left back to out on the wing,” Orlando City Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Luiz Muzzi said in a club press release. “While just 22, he has solid experience at the senior level and he’ll provide immediate strength for us at the position, with a lot of potential for growth.”
Petrasso came out of the Toronto FC academy, which he entered in 2013 at the age of 12, and spent 2018 through 2021 with Toronto FC II. He signed a Homegrown Contract with Toronto on Jan. 11. The left-sided player made 92 combined professional appearances for Toronto FC and Toronto FC II, scoring three goals and adding 11 assists. He also had three caps with the Canada Men’s U-17 National Team in the 2017 Concacaf U-17 Championship.
This season, Petrasso played in 23 games for the senior Reds, starting 21 and compiling 1,684 minutes. He didn’t score but had four assists, put three of nine shots on target, and had a pass completion rate of 74.3%. He was named to the MLS Team of the Week in Week 4 back in late March for his two-assist performance in Toronto’s 2-1 win over D.C. United.
What it Means for Orlando City
Petrasso played three different roles for Toronto in 2022. He began the season playing left midfield in front of a three-man back line, requiring defensive responsibilities. He also played left attacking midfield. As the season continued, he played as a left back when the Reds went back to a four-man back line.
Petrasso’s versatility on the left will be an asset for Orlando City. Joao Moutinho has been the starting left back the last few seasons but he is out of contract and rumors over the past several months have the 24-year-old potentially heading to Europe. Should the Portuguese player leave Orlando this off-season, Petrasso would likely slide into that role for the 2023 MLS season.
Depth was a problem for Orlando City at certain positions in 2022 and Petrasso’s ability to play multiple roles will allow him to potentially alleviate some of those issues next year, but if Moutinho leaves, the club would still be wise to add a left back rather than rely on the right-footed Kyle Smith — who is also the primary backup for Ruan on the other side — to continue in that role. Smith was exposed at times, particularly on the left side, by speedy opposing wingers.
It’s also important that Petrasso is a Homegrown Player and is ineligible to be selected by St. Louis City FC in the 2023 MLS Expansion Draft. That’s one more player that the Lions don’t have to protect or worry about being taken. Petrasso is an affordable option, as he made a base salary of $65,500 last season. The contract he signed last January runs through the 2023 season and, although he may be getting a salary bump for the second year of the deal, it isn’t likely to be substantially higher.
It’s uncertain if Petrasso requires an international roster slot. While he’s Canadian, an MLS rule that went into effect in 2017 stated that Canadian Homegrown Players would be considered domestic players at all MLS clubs, provided they meet certain requirements. Petrasso seems to meet that criteria, which states that the player must have become a member of an MLS academy or Canadian approved youth club in the year prior to turning 16 — Petrasso did so more than a year before turning 16 — and must have signed his first pro contract with an MLS club or their USL affiliate, which he did. A message to the club for confirmation was not immediately returned, but we will update this story if/when that confirmation arrives.