Orlando City are still a year away from their debut in Major League Soccer, but they’re already planting the seeds for a promising future at the next level.
The club announced Wednesday that it has signed 17-year-old Florida native and defender Thomas Redding to a multi-year deal as the first Homegrown signing in franchise history.
“From the beginning, we’ve made no secret that the youth development aspect of our club is very important to us,” head coach Adrian Heath said in a statement. “Tommy has a lot of upside and is highly regarded by many in the soccer world, so we’re very pleased that he’s decided to begin his professional career with us.”
Originally from the Central Florida city of Oviedo, the 6-foot-2 center back is a current member of the US Under-18 national team.
With the completion of the signing, Redding is now eligible to play for the first team during the 2014 USL PRO campaign prior to the club entering MLS in 2015.
Despite being courted in the last year by premier professional clubs in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and England, Redding ultimately decided to start his professional career by representing the city in which he grew up playing youth soccer.
“I’m not surprised that the interest was there because he ticks a lot of the boxes that you look for in a modern-day central defender,” Heath said. “He has a lot of potential and upside, and we’re very pleased that he has committed to us.”