Orlando City sign two players from Benfica youth system ahead of MLS debut
Orlando City have added two players from the youth ranks of Portuguese powerhouse Benfica in the latest effort to stockpile talent ahead of the club’s 2015 expansion debut in Major League Soccer.
The Orlando Sentinel reported on Wednesday that both Rafael Ramos and Estrela are set to sign long-term contracts and are expected to join the club this week, pending approval of their visa applications.
The two will play with the Lions for the remainder of the USL-PRO season before making the jump to MLS next spring.
"These are two good young pieces for us as we continue to build," Lions' general manager Paul McDonough told the Sentinel.
Ramos, 19, is a right back with Benfica’s Under-19 team, while the 18-year-old Estrela is an Angola native who plays holding midfielder for the U-19s.
After the USL season, the players may return to Benfica to train and remain in shape ahead of the start of MLS preseason in January, McDounough told the paper.
McDonough told the Sentinel that both and Lions head coach Adrian Heath (above) traveled to Portugal earlier this month to meet with Benfica regarding player development and other aspects of the club. The two franchises announced a strategic partnership in June.