ORLANDO, FL. – Jason Kreis was both relieved and satisfied after Orlando City SC announced the signing of US international defender Jonathan Spector.
Kreis had identified Spector as his primary transfer target this offseason and with the deal finally getting done, Orlando City SC’s is now largely complete – aside from a few players dealing with some final visa issues.
“It was the one piece where I kept feeling this large anxiety about, because I felt it was the most important acquisition we could make,” the manager confirmed. “It wasn’t an easy process to narrow it down and get the deal done, so in the end, I’m very, very happy.”
Spector is expected to be the linchpin for a defense that has been the Lions' Achilles' heel through its first two MLS seasons.
“There is no doubt about it,” Kreis insisted about Spector’s potential impact. “It was a big characteristic of the profile of the player we were looking for. We were looking for someone with a lot of experience, with leadership capabilities, who could communicate and lead the backline…We believe that Jonathan will be that.
The 6-foot defender from Arlington Heights, Illinois, played his whole 12-year professional career in England before his move Stateside. He has racked up 254 appearances in the Premier League and Championship with the likes of Charlton, West Ham, and Birmingham, as well as earning 36 international caps, but the Orlando coach has no worries about him fitting in to his "home" league.
“We brought him here to play center back. We looked at what he has done over many years in England. He has played extensively at right back this season, but last season he was mainly a center back, and that’s where I saw him playing for the national team, so that’s where he will fit in for us.”
Kreis explained how Orlando City SC’s pursuit of Spector started with a trip to England last December.
“We went over there in December and spoke with him at length,” Kreis explained. “One of my key questions was, do you know what’s going on in MLS? And he does. He’s been watching and he’s actually done some broadcasting of MLS games in England, so he’s been paying attention to it and keeping in touch with it. At the end of the day, he is also American; he was born and raised here and I don’t think there’s going to be much of a transition, if at all.”
Kreis also confirmed that, provided all the outstanding paperwork issues are resolved, the team’s wheeling and dealing is now finished. The team had a busy offseason following the additions ofWill Johnson, Donny Toia, Victor "PC" Giro, goalkeeper Patrick McLain, academy product Pierre Da Silva, and English SuperDraft selection Danny Deakin.
“We have Victor PC with some visa issues, and we have to get Jonathan here, and our draft pick should be in next week after a couple of hurdles from a visa standpoint, but I think we are nearly there,” he explained. “Subject to how things work out, we may be complete or we may need to make one more move. We’ll see.”