TRANSFER_16x9-Junior-Urso

TRANSFER TRACKER STATUS: Mutual contract termination

Orlando City SC shocked fans on Thursday by announcing they've mutually agreed to terminate the contract of popular midfielder Júnior Urso, effective immediately.

Orlando cited "personal reasons" for the decision, adding the player is returning to his native Brazil.

Urso, 33, was a massive presence for the Lions both on and off the pitch. He contributed 12 goals and 10 assists in 87 league games (78 starts) to help them reach the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs in each of his three seasons with the team.

In 2022, his final season, the Brazilian contributed to a historic US Open Cup title that gave Orlando their first MLS-era trophy – and the 2023 Concacaf Champions League berth that came along with it.

“Júnior has meant so much to the culture and direction of this club since joining us in 2020. He’s someone that we all love as both a player and a person, and we’re sad to see him leave,” Luiz Muzzi, Orlando's EVP of soccer operations and general manager, said in a release.

“While we saw him as an important piece for us moving forward, and we were excited to welcome him back in 2023, we recognize that some things are more important than soccer. Júnior will always have a home with us here in Orlando.”

Nicknamed "The Bear," he also established himself as a fan favorite in Exploria Stadium thanks to a larger-than-life personality that often saw him jumping into the crowd to celebrate goals and wins with the local supporters.

Urso, who joined the Lions in 2020 in a transfer from Brazilian club Corinthians, posted a heartfelt farewell message to fans.

“To my beloved Orlando City community, thank you very much for each and every minute you allowed me to represent you for the last three years. There were 100 games, goals, and the championship hardware we've always dreamed of,” he wrote.

“I did everything in my power to make you feel well-represented on the field, and hope I made you proud. It hurts to say goodbye. I didn’t want it to be this way, but it’s time to take care of my family. Know that I love you and am going to miss you. I will be rooting for you day-in-and-day-out. You will never hunt alone.”