Alexandre Pato chases "second chance" with Orlando City SC

For Alexandre Pato, the 2022 MLS season represents that rare second chance to make a first impression with Orlando City SC.

The 32-year-old forward was expected to make a big splash a year ago when he was signed to a one-year deal, turning down suitors in Europe, Asia and his native Brazil.

But that much-anticipated first season in Orlando turned into a nightmare. Pato suffered an early-season knee injury that would eventually need surgery. He was limited to just five appearances across the regular season and Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, posting zero goals or assists.

Orlando head coach Oscar Pareja believed Pato deserved another opportunity to showcase his ability and the club signed the former Brazilian national team player, who once competed for those like AC Milan and Chelsea, to a new one-year deal on Saturday.

“I think it’s more than fair to give the opportunity to Alex to show all what he is,” Pareja told reporters Tuesday from preseason camp. “The most important is he wants to do it. He wants to be part of the club. He wants to help and to support the group with his soccer. I think it's going to work well and we’re excited to have Alex back.”

After the pain and frustration of the 2021 campaign, Pato said he's thankful for getting another opportunity to run with the Lions.

“When I signed a new contract, I was so happy. I was with my family, with my wife, with my father,” he said. “Then I realized my second chance is here now.”

It's a different-looking team than the one Pato joined last year. Gone are attacking standouts Nani, Daryl Dike and Chris Mueller. Orlando are reportedly chasing other attacking players as new ownership (Wilf family) invests, though Pareja noted that pursuit hasn't been easy during this transfer window.

And while it remains to be seen how heavily the Lions lean on Pato, he’s hungry for the reset the 2022 season provides. As a collective, Orlando will be pursuing a third straight Audi MLS Cup Playoffs trip.

“I can’t wait to start, to play with the guys, with the team, in the stadium, for the supporters,” Pato said. "I’m sure this year will be much different than last year.”