Duncan McGuire rejoins Orlando City: Blackburn Rovers saga "in the past"

Duncan McGuire - Orlando City

After a transfer saga that can only be described as an emotional roller coaster, Duncan McGuire is back with Orlando City SC.

The 23-year-old striker was slated to join English second-tier side Blackburn Rovers on a six-month loan in early February, only for the deal to fall through due to an administrative issue.

Back stateside and in preseason camp with Orlando, where he was a breakout star in 2023, McGuire isn't dwelling on the whirlwind experience.

"I think I'm really good at putting the past behind me," McGuire, a newfound US international, told reporters on Tuesday. "It sucks that situation happened and it definitely kind of bothered me a little bit. But it's in the past. I'm here now, I've been training again and everything seems back to normal here, so just playing like we always do.

"It's easy to move on when you have your teammates supporting you and coaches that'll help you move on."

McGuire generated European interest thanks to a standout rookie campaign with the Lions, which saw him rack up 16 goal contributions (13g/3a) in just 1,395 minutes. He ultimately finished second in 2023 MLS Young Player of the Year voting

With the drama surrounding the called-off loan now behind McGuire, could a different destination be in his future come summertime?

"As of now, just trying to play games and play soccer again and if that opportunity comes or that conversation comes up then we'll cross that bridge when it comes," McGuire said. "But as of now, I'm an Orlando City player just trying to win games for the team.

"... It's good to have teams that want you always," he added. "That's never a bad thing. So it just gives me a little boost of confidence that other teams want me and just keep playing well. But as of now, I'm just here with Orlando getting games in, playing with them, working hard again, so can't complain."

McGuire could face increased competition for minutes once the 2024 season kicks off, with Orlando City reportedly nearing a deal to acquire Colombian international striker Luis Muriel from Italian Serie A side Atalanta – something McGuire said he'd welcome. Muriel would be a Designated Player alongside Facundo Torres and Martín Ojeda.

"We have a great team and the competition only makes us better," said McGuire, who was picked No. 6 overall in the 2023 MLS SuperDraft out of Creighton University. "So, I mean, if a DP is coming then I'll just have to compete harder and keep earning that spot if I want to play. And it'll only make the team better in the end.

"If he does come, it's just going to cause competition and it's going to make me better. If he comes, it's going to make him better as well."

Ultimately, it's about building on last year's stellar rookie campaign, whether that be in Orlando or elsewhere. For now, McGuire said he's plenty happy to be back in a "comfortable environment" that fostered his development under head coach Oscar Pareja.

"I think I proved that there is some talent in college soccer," said the Paris 2024 Olympics hopeful. "I think it's a path that not many people get to take and not many get the opportunity to take, so I think I just proved that there is talent there.

"And for this year, I just hope to score more goals."