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Ranking Orlando City’s 13 Designated Players



In 2008, Major League Soccer created the Designated Player Rule, commonly called the Beckham Rule, allowing MLS clubs to sign up to three players over the maximum salary budget charge. Originally designed to allow the LA Galaxy to sign David Beckham, it’s now become a way for clubs to bring in top talent from around the globe.

Orlando City signed its first DP when the club inked former FIFA World Player of the Year Kaká to a three-year deal. He was the club’s second signing after Kevin Molino, who had been with the Lions since 2011. Since that historic signing in 2014, Orlando City has had 13 Designed Players. 

In addition to the traditional Designated Player, clubs can also sign Young Designated Players. These signings are 23 or younger during the league year and carry a lower salary budget charge than older DPs. However, they still take up one of the team’s three DP spots on the roster.

Here’s how I rank the club’s Designated Players from worst to first.

13. Bryan Rochez, 2015-2016

Rochez was the second DP and first YDP signed by Orlando City, signing on Dec. 15, 2014 from Real Espana in Honduras. The Honduran international forward had scored 29 goals in 59 appearances for his previous club in Honduras’ top division, but that success didn’t translate to MLS. Rochez was outplayed in his first MLS season by the club’s first-ever draft pick, Cyle Larin. In total, he made 16 appearances for the first team with no starts and recorded three goals and no assists. His three goals came in consecutive games from Sept. 13-25, 2015, and two of them were game-winners as part of the Lions’ late, five-game winning streak that gave Orlando a playoff shot heading into Decision Day. He spent a lot of his time in Orlando with the club’s reserve side, OCB, making 10 appearances with the Young Lions. Orlando City loaned Rochez back to Real Espana on July 22, 2016 and he was waived on March 17, 2017.

12. Josue Colman, 2018-2019

Orlando City signed 19-year-old Paraguayan midfielder Colman on Jan. 15, 2018 as a YDP. The South American joined the club from Cerro Porteno in Paraguay’s top division. The club touted the young player as its new number 10, exciting the fanbase. However, it didn’t pan out for him or the club. In a year and a half in Orlando, Colman made 35 appearances with 13 starts and accumulated 1,405 minutes. He scored one goal, which deflected in off his back from a Scott Sutter shot, with six assists. His time in Orlando ended when he was loaned out on June 12, 2019. Following the 2020 season, which he spent with Cerro Porteno, Colman’s contract option was declined.

11. Matias Perez Garcia, 2016-2017

Perez Garcia joined Orlando City on Aug. 3, 2016 after three seasons with the San Jose Earthquakes. The 31-year-old midfielder spent a little less than a year with the club, but was a regular, playing in 28 games with 21 starts, and 1,854 minutes. He scored once and assisted four times in all competitions but was largely a disappointment given his DP status. It was a little easier to swallow with him staying on the books in San Jose’s DP slot in 2016 as part of the agreement between the teams. Perez Garcia was waived by the club on June 28, 2017.

10. Carlos Rivas, 2015-2017

Rivas’ time in Orlando makes fans wonder what could’ve been. The Colombian signed as a YDP with the club on Jan. 9, 2015 ahead of its inaugural MLS season. In three years with the Lions, Rivas was a regular, making 82 appearances, 45 starts, and playing 4,429 minutes. He scored 12 goals and added 14 assists. The forward would’ve made an excellent winger as he showed tremendous speed and crossing ability, but he was set on only playing forward, despite a large portion of his shots sailing well over the target. Orlando City traded Rivas to the New York Red Bulls on Jan. 3, 2018 in a deal that saw Sacha Kljestan arrive.

9. Giles Barnes, 2017

Barnes came to Orlando in a trade with the Vancouver Whitecaps on Feb. 25, 2017 that saw Brek Shea head west. The Jamaican international forward originally wasn’t a DP but took the spot vacated by Rochez when the club waived the Honduran to provide some salary cap flexibility. Barnes was only with the club for the 2017 season, making 35 appearances (regular season plus U.S. Open Cup) with 24 starts and playing 2,227 minutes. He scored four goals and had two assists but was unwanted when Jason Kreis was fired and James O’Connor took over. The club declined Barnes’ option following his only season in Orlando.

8. Sacha Kljestan, 2018

Orlando City acquired Kljestan, a U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder at the time, and $150,000 in Targeted Allocation Money on Jan. 3, 2018 from the New York Red Bulls for Rivas and Homegrown defender Tommy Redding. Kljestan brought a veteran presence to the midfield and wasn’t bad in his time in Orlando. He played in 60 games over two seasons, with 49 starts and 4,490 minutes. He scored nine goals and provided 12 assists in that time but was a part of the worst team in club history in 2018. The club let Kljestan go via free agency when his contract expired after the 2019 season.

7. Dom Dwyer, 2018-2020

On July 25, 2017, Orlando City brought one of the most popular players of the club’s USL era back to the City Beautiful. The Lions sent Sporting Kansas City $400,000 in General Allocation Money, $500,000 in Targeted Allocation Money, with up to $700,000 more in future Allocation Money tied to performance metrics, a record deal for the forward. Dwyer made a name for himself with the club in 2013 when he joined Orlando City on loan, scoring 17 goals in 15 games, including four goals in the 2013 USL Pro Championship win over the Charlotte Eagles. His performances helped the popularity of the and eventually its ascent to MLS.

Dwyer got off to a good start in 2017, scoring four goals and four assists in 12 games. Before the 2018 season, the club signed him to a new three-year deal, making him a DP. In 2018, he scored 13 goals in 26 games with no assists and seven goals in 27 games with four assists in 2019. In 2020, the forward only made two appearances before he was sidelined with a knee injury. The club decided not to renew his contract following that season and one of the most important players in Orlando City history left the club via free agency.

6. Ercan Kara, 2022

Orlando City signed Austrian forward Kara on Jan. 27, 2022. The former Rapid Vienna striker joined as a DP on a three-year contract with club options for 2025 and 2026. Kara was initially going to play right in front of Alexandre Pato before the latter suffered a season-ending injury. However, Kara was the team’s best striker last season, scoring 12 goals with three assists in 33 games in all competitions. The primary problem with Kara is that he needs good service to score and the Lions were unable to provide that service throughout much of the season. However, he’s only been on the team for one season so we’ll see where he ranks among DPs when his time in Orlando is over.

5. Yoshimar Yotun, 2017

Peruvian international midfielder Yotun joined Orlando City on Aug. 4, 2017 from Malmo FF in Sweden. Yotun immediately became the team’s primary playmaker, scoring six goals and providing 14 assists in 32 appearances. Yotun represented Peru in the 2018 FIFA World Cup and was an MLS All-Star the same season, but the club transferred the midfielder to Liga MX side Cruz Azul when an offer came in following the 2019 MLS season.

4. Facundo Torres, 2022

Orlando City signed 21-year-old Penarol winger Facundo Torres on Jan. 24, 2022, making him the club’s 12th all-time DP. The young midfielder quickly became a key part of the club’s success in 2022, scoring 13 goals and providing 12 assists in 40 appearances in all competitions. His biggest impact came in the U.S. Open Cup run when he recorded a goal and an assist in the semifinal and a brace with an assist in the final. Orlando City wants to keep Torres as long as possible, but the young player is reportedly receiving attention from big European clubs. If he stays, he could be one of the club’s best DPs so far.

3. Nani, 2019-2021

Portuguese international midfielder Nani joined Orlando City on Feb. 18, 2019. The signing of the former Manchester United player was questioned by many nationally but he soon proved to be an excellent addition. In four years with the club, Nani played 88 games with 73 starts, scoring 31 goals and recording 26 assists. As captain, he led the Lions to their first two MLS Cup playoff appearances in 2020 and 2021. The veteran had trouble staying on the field late in the 2021 season and the club declined to pick up his option at the end of the year.

2. Mauricio Pereyra, 2019-2022

Orlando City acquired Pereyra on July 30, 2019 while the midfielder was out of contract. Pereyra played in six games and recorded four assists in his first few months with the club but really made his presence felt the following season. Named club captain heading into the 2022 season, the Uruguayan has made 98 appearances with 88 starts in all competitions, scoring six goals and providing a club-record 35 assists. He signed a new two-year contract this off-season, but the club bought down his contract with Allocation Money so he’ll no longer take up a DP spot.

1. Kaká, 2015-2017

Kaká was the first DP signed by Orlando City on Sept. 9, 2014 and the second player signed to an MLS contract. The former FIFA World Player of the Year did well for the club, scoring 25 goals and recording 22 assists in 78 appearances, but his impact was just as great off the field. A friend of former marjority owner Flavio Augusto da Silva and former CEO Alex Leitao, Kaká helped bring attention to the club as the Lions made the jump from the country’s third division into the first division. Orlando City needed to draw people to the stadium for this somewhat unknown team and a big name like Kaká did that. He also knew his role as a club ambassador. On Feb. 9, 2015 following an open practice, he signed autographs for nearly two hours, ensuring everyone who wanted one got his signature. The impact he had, both on and off the field, is why he’s the top DP signed by the club so far.

Orlando City has signed 13 Designated Players dating back to 2014. Some of these signings have been successful but others have been disappointing. The club has done much better of late, with the last four DP signings being among the best. With a DP slot currently open and another that could be vacated if Torres is sold overseas, that’s a good sign moving forward as the Lions bring more high-priced talent into the area.

How do you view Orlando City’s Designated Player signings through the years? Let us know how you’d rank them in the comments below.


Reflecting on Eight Years with The Mane Land

A look back over my time with The Mane Land (so far).



Nick Leyva, The Mane Land

As of last week, I have been a contributor at The Mane Land for eight years. That’s longer than I’ve ever been at any of my actual jobs in my life. There are literally only a couple of people who have been with the site longer, but I’m still amazed at how long it’s been. This is not to say I’m going anywhere, but rather I wanted to take the opportunity to look back at the past eight years, and look ahead to the future.

Unlike some, I didn’t come to be a supporter of Orlando City until it was announced that the club was joining MLS. At the time, I was contemplating picking a club to follow in MLS, but being in Tallahassee, there were no nearby options at that time. I considered FC Dallas and D.C. United, given the two were geographically closer in proximity to me than any others. Fortunately, it was literally while I was considering my options that the announcement was made regarding Orlando City’s jump to MLS. It was an easy decision.

As I do in many aspects of my life, I immediately started researching my new club, which led me to the content being produced by The Mane Land. There was also an article on the site titled “Join The Mane Land Staff.” I had often over the years internally bemoaned that I rarely used my Bachelor’s degree in English, and the desire to write welled up in me so much that I emailed the staff. 

In response, one of our former editors, Andrew Marcinko, contacted me and said “I think your voice would be a great fit on TML.” He asked me to submit a Fan Post (those went away with our presence on SBN), and then another piece for review. Following that, our founder and managing editor, Michael Citro, emailed me to welcome me to the staff. I had no idea at the time how big a part of my life this blog would become.

I started out writing Monday’s Lions Links — often one of the more difficult days to write — and a feature piece. It’s been many years gone by now, but there was a time when the feature piece was “Pride Pub,” an ongoing series that paired craft beer and good food based on Orlando City’s opponent. I can tell you that the research for that was very enjoyable, and I still use some of the recipes I found to this day.

Eventually, I started contributing more match coverage and analytical pieces. Staff came and went, but I never thought to leave since I was enjoying myself. Sometime after that, I was promoted to senior columnist, for which I’m grateful. I can without reservation say that I’m a better writer thanks to my time with the site, and from working with such excellent staff.

In November of 2016, Michael asked if I wanted to give co-hosting The Mane Land PawedCast a try. My first recording was for Episode 71. We just recorded Episode 354, and with the exception of maybe two or three episodes, I have been on every single one of 283 episodes over the last six plus years. Michael and I have spent a lot of time talking on and off the podcast over the years, and I’m proud of what we have produced and to call him my friend.

We recently added an Orlando Pride-specific podcast called Skopurp: An Orlando Pride PawedCast. For years we wanted to give the Pride the time and attention the club deserves. Now, it is a reality, but one that I ask you to listen to and share. I’ll even put out that although Michael and I are the current hosts, we merely consider ourselves stewards and are hoping to get others to come onboard and eventually take it to the next level.

When I started with The Mane Land, the site had just made the move from a free WordPress site to the SBNation network. It was a big deal, and for many years it was a good partnership. Of course that all came to an end not too long ago, and our blog went the independent route thanks to the incredibly generous support of our readers and listeners. In fact, if you want to be one of those supporting our efforts, please go to our Buy Me A Coffee site to become a member. The move has allowed a flexibility we didn’t have before, but I really want others to have the same sense of joy and accomplishment that I have as a member of our staff. 

At one point we had nearly twice the staff that we do now, and as you know, many hands make light work. The opposite of that is also true. I genuinely believe that there must be others out there with the same passion for Orlando City as I have — with the same desire to have their voice heard, whether through the written word or on a podcast. I promise you there is an opportunity to contribute here with us. Our internal discussions are informative, engaging, and often funny. Please consider joining us, as I did eight years ago. I haven’t regretted it and I know you won’t either.

I want to thank all of those who contributed to The Mane Land over the years. There are many that I am still in touch with, though they are no longer a part of the staff. Of course, the current staff are a pleasure to work with, and I appreciate their dedication to what we are trying to do.

Finally, I want to thank the readers and listeners over the years. From those who regularly comment on our articles, to those that I’ve personally met at matches or even randomly on the street, you are a big reason that we do all of this. You are a big reason why I’ve been doing this for the better part of a decade. it is always a genuine pleasure hearing your thoughts or simply sharing a moment of joy together — U.S. Open Cup final, anyone?

So, thank you. I look forward to many more years of this journey together.

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The Mane Land Announces Membership Program

Maximize your Mane Land experience with our new TML membership program while supporting our independent efforts.



Hello, readers of The Mane Land and listeners of our podcasts. Before you start reading this, please note that the most important part of this post is at the end. So, don’t stop until you get to the bottom.

You may recall that when we left SBNation to become independent, we really weren’t sure the best way to go about that. Many of our readers and listeners generously offered to help us make that transition, but we still weren’t sure the best path forward, so we took a poll.

The poll was pretty much split down the middle between those who preferred a one-time, Kickstarter-style campaign (which we did, and those of you who stepped up to help completely blew us away!) and those who favored a Patreon-style, subscription-based membership with extra perks. In fact, the member subscriptions option got a few more votes in our poll.

The folks who took part in our GoFundMe fundraiser were fantastic and are now immortalized on this very site on the “Our Founders” page. But we had always planned to give folks the option to choose whichever method of support they preferred and we tried to communicate that throughout the process. It took a little longer than expected to get up and running, but our membership subscription program is now in place! (You may notice the fancy new banner ad about it on the home page, echoed below.)

Supporting TML helps build a better TML for you to enjoy, so you’re really subscribing to your own Orlando soccer fandom.

Part of that delay was thinking up something that didn’t encroach on the benefits we gave our Founders. Those folks helped us get started and deserve the exclusivity of the perks they got. The other part of the delay is that there just aren’t enough hours in the day. (However, for you guys, I’m willing to be cloned.)

We have utilized the popular Buy Me a Coffee platform to run this program. You can find the basics here. The Mane Land premium membership program includes three tiers of membership, as well as the option to click on the “Support” tab for those who just want to help us out whenever, without joining the program or adding any recurring “appointment-based” payments to their budgets. We love that feature of Buy Me a Coffee (or “Buy Us a Beer” in our case…you drink what you like).

For those who do choose to become members, we hope we have provided value and we are planning to add benefits along the way, in addition to providing special giveaways, events, etc. (more on that below). We have also provided subscription options — with monthly or annual memberships. The annual cost essentially gives you 12 months for the price of 10.

Current Benefits

The current membership benefits depend on which level of support you choose — Homegrown Player, TAM Player, or Designated Player level. Each level includes all benefits from the lower tiers, with additional benefits for each higher level.

Homegrown Player: This is a basic set-it-and-forget-it level of support for The Mane Land, providing a way for our readers and podcast listeners to contribute to the success of TML‘s independence goals. We want to compensate our current volunteers, replace lost income of those who previously received small stipends from being part of the SBNation network, add photographers, attract new writers, and expand our coverage. Additionally, each Homegrown Player Level member will be recognized in a Lion Links column, which is still typically our most widely read post of each day and one of the top daily links columns among soccer sites. Homegrown Player Level members will also be included in any future prize drawings we have or events we host and may be subject to future benefits as they are added.

TAM Player: In addition to Homegrown Player benefits, TAM Players will receive a new weekly e-newsletter in their inbox (unless you opt out…some people hate email). These will be informal missives from myself, other TML writers, or a combination, discussing what’s on our mind regarding Orlando City, the Pride, OCB, or soccer in general. Think of it as an extra post from our site that may cover multiple topics. Additionally, you’ll get a 10% discount from our web shop items that we control (presently, that means everything except our listed MLS Shop items). We will definitely have more benefits coming for this level soon and will look for opportunities to include additional benefits as they become available.

Designated Player: This limited availability level of support includes all perks from the Homegrown and TAM levels, but it goes beyond. Your discount at our webshop (for items we control) will be 15% off. Additionally, we’ll send you Zoom links to watch us “make the doughnuts” whenever we record the podcast. This includes when we interview guests. You’ll see how the sausage is made behind the scenes and everything that we say, some of which will end up on the cutting room floor before the final podcast is sent out. This includes both The Mane Land PawedCast and SkoPurp Soccer: An Orlando Pride PawedCast. And after two months of membership you can commission a bonus episode of either podcast simply by letting us know what topic you want us to cover. Think of this as an extended Ask Us Anything. We’ll do a whole show about your topic and you can even join us to discuss it if you wish.

The DP Level will certainly have additional benefits tacked on as we move forward. It is currently limited to 40 members but could be expanded slightly depending on demand and our Zoom attendance.

Future Benefits / Benefits Under Consideration

While we won’t be able to schedule these due to the random nature of items falling into our hands, there will be periodic prize giveaways in drawings that include all of our members, regardless of level. The catch is that you get one entry per level of support, meaning Homegrown Player Level members will get one entry per prize drawing, TAM Player Level members will get two entries per drawing, and Designated Player Level members get three entries for prize drawings. Some of the kinds of items we have come across in the past include match tickets, trinkets, posters, scarves, and so on.

We are planning to add a message board to our website, well…soon-ish is the word that comes to mind. The plan for the message board is to build our community and further the discussion about the club. As part of this, we’re planning an exclusive, members-only area of that message board that TAM and DP members can access. This will be a place our staff can share informational nuggets we can’t necessarily write stories about for various reasons and interact with our members on a daily basis.

Other things in the works include meet-and-greets/watch parties where you can chat with TML staff members and catch a road match with a bunch of like-minded Orlando City/Pride fans while we all cheer on the team together. There may also be other informal outings with one or more members of the staff, organized fantasy leagues, random Zoom calls for Q&A sessions, and perhaps even some organized group outings for Orlando City / Pride matches, national team games, etc.

The Most Important Part of This Post

Remember at the top of this post, when I said the most important part is at the bottom? Well, that seems like a long time ago, now, so it’s OK if you’ve already forgotten.

The most important part of our membership program is you. We want your feedback so we can make this program something that interests and excites you. We want to know what you like and dislike about this program. We want to know if there are some things we didn’t think of that interest you. If you like what we’re offering, tell us! If you hate what we’re offering, we want to know what you’d prefer instead or in addition. If you want to go drinking with Dave, we can probably arrange that, but it’ll be a unique tier and we’ll have to figure out the cost of that.

No idea is too crazy to suggest, even if it’s too insane for us to actually offer. Let us know what you want from your subscription and we’ll see if that’s something we can do. We’ll make it easy for you by putting the form right here below this post, which is now concluded.

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Welcome Home!



Where do I even start? When we were told in January that SBNation was pulling its support of The Mane Land and other MLS and NHL blogs — and many podcasts — I was devastated. The site had become my new baby in September of 2014 and after eight and a half years, I wasn’t ready to let it go.

I was in a pickle. I couldn’t afford to lose the monthly stipend I had been getting from SBNation to manage the site and provide a steady stream of content. It wasn’t that it was a huge monthly sum, but it mostly covered my car payment. That car was purchased when my salary was higher. The pandemic hit my day job like it did to many, and after a four-month layoff, I got my old job back but not at the same rate. So, imagine taking a pay decrease at work and then, on top of that, losing the amount you spend per month on your car payment. There was simply no way to launch The Mane Land independently, I thought, because I simply couldn’t cover the startup costs. Even with some generous offers from the staff to pitch in, there simply wasn’t a way.

Once we took the news public, there was an outpouring of support on social media. We appreciated both the pledges to help out that we got from the community and the signal boosting that the national media gave blogs like ours. Those national folks rely on local reporting for background.

Encouraged by this outpouring of public support, I met with the TML staff and we threw some ideas around. We polled our Twitter followers to see how our community would prefer to show their support. We got pretty close to a 50/50 split between those who wanted to provide a one-time donation via a Kickstarter or GoFundMe crowdsourcing effort, and those who would prefer some sort of premium subscription add-on service like Patreon or Buy Me a Coffee.

We didn’t get a lot of responses to that poll, but we decided as a group that since the results were so similar, we would offer both and let the public choose one path, the other, or even both. (Stay tuned for news soon-ish on the premium subscription level, but rest assured, everything you’ve been getting for free at TML will remain free!)

I was, admittedly, skeptical that we could raise enough startup money to create a private business, pay for hosting a new site and two podcasts (having long wanted to give the Orlando Pride their own unique show), registering a domain, paying for some design work and consulting, and any unexpected expenses that might come up. However, I thought we’d at least give it a try.

Then the amazing Orlando City, Orlando Pride, and TML community got involved. You guys pushed us past our bare minimum goal in just four and a half hours when our fundraiser went live on March 1. We reset our goal and you met that by midnight. We reset our goal again, to the dream total we discussed on our initial staff Zoom chat and you met that by that first weekend.

Stunned. Humbled. Amazed. Touched. All of these words apply to how that made us feel, but they don’t quite cover it. I think we all felt an enormous responsibility, as well. We felt a mandate to provide you the best site and the best coverage we can.

We got everything we needed to run the site for two years, even if we don’t earn a penny after our launch — and we plan to try, via advertising, a Patreon (or similar) program, an online shop, affiliate links, and anything else we can think of. But we decided to leave the GoFundMe open through the end of March, just in case there were folks who wanted to contribute but needed to wait for payday, or if more people wanted to become founding members of this new site.

Now, here we are. You guys did this. We’re here because of you. And this site isn’t quite what it will become. I’m still learning my way around WordPress, after being away from it for years. There’s more to build, and some of the things you’re seeing on this site now will be improved in the future. We’ll continue to tweak it, add things, and upgrade as we go.

For now, I just want to welcome you to your new online home. On behalf of our entire staff, I thank our founding members, who are now immortalized on this site in our founders section. If you weren’t able to contribute to our transition from SBNation’s network to an autonomous and independent, new version of The Mane Land, you can thank the folks on our founders page, because without them, we wouldn’t be here. And if you still want to help out, we’ve got more things on the way.


Michael Citro
Managing Editor

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