The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Off-Season Roster Moves



It always seems that Orlando City’s front office takes the Cardiac Cats name to heart when it comes to big off-season signings. I’m certain it is just a perception thing, but it seems that other clubs are bringing in players to meet positional needs while Orlando City and the Orlando Pride are dragging their heels. I hope that it is just me being pessimistic, so let’s take a look at what has and hasn’t been done so far.

The Good

Orlando City signed Mauricio Pereyra, Adam Grinwis,and Kyle Smith to new contracts. The Lions’ captain has a deal through 2024 and is no longer a Designated Player, freeing that spot up for someone new. The Grinch got a one-year deal allowing him to be the third in line to get playing time for the Lions once again. It’s a good deal for the 30-year-old U.S. Open Cup hero that keeps him with a club that loves him and he loves back. The Lions also signed Favian Loyola to a Homegrown Player contract. Loyola is the 13th Homegrown signing and the move is good for both the player and the club. The signing is a signal that the academy system and the newest iteration of OCB are viable paths for young players to earn MLS contracts. Success attracts success, and having more talent come to MLS through the academy system is vital to the long term goals of the organization.

On the Orlando Pride’s side, the return of Viviana Villacorta and Carrie Lawrence to the roster will hopefully be the snowballs that start an avalanche of new signings for the club. Villacorta signed a new two-year contract that keeps her with the club through 2024, and Lawrence also signed a two-year deal. These were important deals for the Pride to complete as Lawrence was arguably the best defender on the team, and Villacorta will be a potential star in the midfield if she can stay healthy. There is more that needs to be done, but this is a good start.

The Bad

Orlando City has yet to re-sign Pedro Gallese to a new contract to keep him in the City Beautiful. Gallese is a top five MLS keeper and a big part of Orlando’s success. Perhaps, the General Allocation Money (GAM) the club garnered from the Andres Perea trade could be used to keep El Pulpo with the Lions? I’m honestly hoping that my writing this will mean the club announces the deal prior to this article being published.

The Pride made an important decision when they hired Seb Hines as the new head coach for the club. Time will tell if that was the correct hire, though we’re all hoping for the best with Hines, given his dedication to the club. What the Pride haven’t done is bring in a new vice president and general manager of soccer operations to oversee the Pride. Basically, Hines doesn’t know who his boss is yet. That creates unnecessary challenges for a new coach trying to bring on coaches, staff, and players. This is a hire that needs to happen sooner than later.

The Ugly

I’m hopeful that the Lions will make the necessary signings to take the next step in the playoffs, but so far, it’s been most likely a net loss on the number of starters so far. Yes, Pereyra, Smith, Grinwis, and Loyola have new contracts. The Lions also added midfielder Felipe Martins. Martins is experienced, but not exactly a big-name signing. At least three of those players are not regular starters. We’ve also seen the departure of João Moutinho, Júnior Urso, and Andrés Perea. I’m sure you’re aware that two of those players were consistent starters. More needs to be done.

The 2023 NWSL Draft will take place on Jan. 12, 2023. That leaves just over a month for the Pride to re-sign any additional players they need so that they can have a clear plan going into the draft. Of course, there are multiple holidays in between now and then as well. The Pride could be in advanced talks with players they are trying to bring in, but if so, they will be doing so without a GM in place. That is not a recipe for success. The season is still a way off, but the draft isn’t. The Pride have plenty of money and picks with which to work, but unless the Wilfs are giving Hines a free hand, it could get ugly.

Typically, when I write an article like this, things start to happen just to prove I’m wrong. Or does it prove I’m a Jedi using words instead of a mind trick? Either way, I hope we see more roster moves very soon.


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