Previewing Orlando City’s 2023 season


Dominique M

Orlando’s new season this year has many fans excited, waiting to see how the team plays out.

With the 2023 Major League Soccer season on the horizon, the Orlando City Soccer Club is ready to attack the season with energy, confidence, and high hopes. After winning the U.S. Open Cup and making the playoffs last year, the Lions and their passionate fanbase have big expectations for the upcoming season.

So, how is the team feeling prior to kickoff?

“We’re very excited to start a new season after a very successful one,” manager Óscar Pareja said to News6. “The guys are very excited to be back after this period of resting and sharing [time] with family, but surely we’re ready.”

During the offseason, Orlando City management has been working hard to assemble the best roster possible and made the absolute most out of what they had.

Plenty of exits occurred with the most notable being defender Ruan who was traded for the 2nd overall pick in the 2023 MLS SuperDraft. Forward Tesho Akindele and midfielder Joey DeZart declined their player options. Midfielder Andres Perea was traded for allocation money while Benji Michel, João Moutinho, and Alexandre Pato left in the transfer market. Midfielder Júnior Urso had his contract terminated for personal reasons.

As for the additions and re-signings, goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, who was top-notch for Orlando last year, signed an extension through 2024. Argentinian midfielder Martín Ojeda from Argentina signed a three-year deal. Defenders Rafael Santos and Rodrigo Schegel were re-signed for two-year contracts. The club also acquired Icelander midfielder Dagur Dan Thórhallsson.

Academy player Favian Loyola was promoted to the first team while veteran midfielder Mauricio Pereyra resigned for two years. Felipe Martins was signed out of free agency and Luca Petrasso got acquired from Toronto FC in exchange for allocation money. Forward Ramiro Enrique signed a three-year contract as a part of the U22 initiative.

In the 2023 MLS SuperDraft, the Lions split their picks between attackers and defenders. Shakur Mohammed (2nd pick) and Duncan McGuire (6th pick) will join the front while Abdi Salim (17th pick) and Luis Grassow (46th pick) will bolster the defense. 

Although Orlando City has only been a part of the MLS since 2015, the energy around the team has been incredible. Ever since the Wilf family became the majority owners in 2021, the Lions have been unafraid to spend big money to get the right players as well as effectively develop the youth players in their system. It’s without a doubt that last year’s cup-winning success shows how this club is truly heading in the right direction. If the front office keeps making consistent, smart, and effective decisions, Orlando could soon become an attractive destination for players around the world.

The draft picks have been made, the veterans resigned, and Exploria Stadium is ready to rock. Will Orlando City roar into a fantastic year or go out with a whimper? Only time will tell…