Alvarez left the Lions’ June 7 game with what the club called an “undisclosed medical condition.” He underwent a series of tests at Orlando Health over the next couple of months, leading to the decision to retire.
Alvarez was the second Orlando City player signed to an MLS contract for their inaugural season in the league in 2015.
“While I’m deeply disappointed that I cannot return to the sport I love, I must consider my health in this decision as I look to explore the next chapter in my life,” Alvarez told the club’s website. “I’m grateful to my teammates, friends and fans for their support during this ordeal – it has helped me more than words can express.”
Alvarez played parts of three seasons with Real Salt Lake after leading Orlando City to the USL PRO Championship and earning league MVP honors in 2011. He rejoined Orlando City last winter and has been playing with the Lions this season on loan from RSL.
Alvarez appeared in a career-high 18 games for RSL last season, including 11 starts. After defecting from his native Cuba during the Olympic qualifying tournament in Florida in 2008, Alvarez originally signed with the Austin Aztex (now Orlando City) in 2009.
He appeared in 38 career regular-season games for RSL and two in the postseason, including a 57-minute appearance in the first leg of the team’s Western Conference semifinal series against the LA Galaxy last November.
“We are deeply saddened by this news, but Yordany’s long-term health and well-being must be at the forefront of any decision regarding his future,” Orlando City president and founder Phil Rawlins told the club’s website. “To that end, both the club and the entire Orlando Health medical staff were very prudent throughout this process in making sure he underwent extensive examinations to determine the possible causes of his condition and to find the best treatment so he can continue to live a full life.”
Alvarez will continue to work with Orlando City in their youth academy.
In recognition of his success on the field and contributions to the organization, Alvarez will be recognized in a special ceremony during Orlando City’s last home game on Sept. 6 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
“I have known Gio for over six years, and he is a great human being. He has been an instrumental part of our success here in Orlando,” Rawlins added. “We will greatly miss his contributions on and off the field. We all wish our wonderful friend the very best in his future.”