Orlando City announced today that winger Jake Mulraney’s days with the Lions are over. The Dublin, Ireland native is heading to his home country after transferring to Irish Premier Division club St. Patrick’s Athletic F.C. The terms of the transfer were not disclosed.
Conspicuously absent from preseason training, this was not a surprising move. Mulraney told the Independent that he wanted to be closer to family.
“I had a few offers over the water, I could have stayed in the States and had offers in Dublin and Ireland but after speaking to Garrett (Kelleher – chairman), Tim, Jon and the board, it just made sense. I know Pat’s are on the up so it made sense for me to move here.
“I’ve been away for years now, seeing how the baby is at home as well swayed it towards my decision to stay here. I can’t wait. I am looking forward to it now.”
“We would like to thank Jake for all the hard work and dedication he gave to us last season,” Orlando City Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Luiz Muzzi said in a club press release. “Jake is a true professional in every meaning of the word and we wish him all the best moving forward.”
The Lions acquired Mulraney from Atlanta United on May 5 in exchange for $200,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM), with half of that coming from the club’s 2022 pool of GAM and the other half coming from its allotment in 2023. There was another $75,000 in 2023 GAM potentially going Atlanta’s way if certain unnamed performance metrics were reached, but it seems unlikely that those will now be met.
Trading for Mulraney seemed like a good idea last May. He had a reputation in Atlanta as a super sub who could provide a spark off the bench and get down the left flank to provide service and some danger. But Mulraney ultimately didn’t add much to the Orlando City attack, and when MLS U22 Initiative signing Gaston Gonzalez injured his knee in his final match with his former club, the OCSC front office had to bring in Ivan Angulo to strengthen the position.
Mulraney appeared in 17 regular-season matches with Orlando (10 starts), playing 726 minutes. He didn’t play a full 90 in any match in his time with the Lions. Mulraney did not contribute a goal or an assist in 2022, attempting 11 shots and getting only one of them on target. His passing rate was a solid 82.5% and he contributed six key passes, but he also turned the ball over 14 times. Defensively, Mulraney contributed 17 tackles, five clearances, and three interceptions. He committed just eight fouls and drew 22 on the opposition and was booked twice.
The 26-year-old winger also played 13 minutes off the bench in Orlando City’s playoff match at CF Montreal. He did not contribute a goal, assist, shot, or key pass in the game and only touched the ball three times. He completed his only pass attempt and served an unsuccessful cross into the box. He did not register any defensive statistics, committed no fouls while drawing one, and was not booked.
Mulraney’s expectations turned out to be higher than his productivity. The Irish attacker came up through through Crumlin United FC’s youth academy in his hometown. He spent two seasons with Nottingham Forest’s U-18 team before signing an 18-month deal with Queens Park Rangers. He never appeared for Queens Park, however, going on loans to Dagenham & Redbridge as well as Stevenage. Prior to joining Atlanta United, Mulraney spent times with Scottish clubs Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Hearts.
At St. Pat’s, Mulraney will be reunited with Saints Assistant Manager Jon Daly, who worked with the winger at Hearts. Daly managed the Hearts U-20 team while Mulraney was with the Scottish club.
Internationally, Mulraney has represented the Republic of Ireland at the U-17, U-19, and U-21 levels.
What It Means for Orlando City
No offense intended toward the player, but this seems a case of addition by subtraction. Mulraney may simply not have been the right fit for the Lions. He showed some flashes but tended to disappear for long stretches of games. He didn’t add much to a struggling attack. In fact, his biggest contribution may have been a late cross against Inter Miami that Damion Lowe turned into his own net to hand Orlando City a 1-0 win over the Herons on June 19 of last year.
The Lions did not announce a transfer fee for Mulraney, although just crawling out from under his $301,600 salary and guaranteed compensation of $338,777, which both likely got at least a modest bump for 2023, is a good thing for the club.
Mulraney leaves with Orlando having significantly bolstered the wings with the additions of Gonzalez and Angulo, and both new Designated Player Martin Ojeda and draft pick Shak Mohammed can play there as well. It was likely that Mulraney’s minutes, which dropped significantly after Angulo arrived, were about to dwindle even more.
This move allows both the player and club to move on, so it’s a net win for both.