ORLANDO, Fla. – Even with their first Major League Soccer contest almost one year away, Orlando City fans can keep a close eye on five players are already under MLS contract for 2015.
Only time will tell what impact these five building blocks have on Orlando City’s first foray into MLS, but here is a brief introduction to each:
Kevin Molino (5-foot-11, 145 lbs) - attacking midfielder
The all-time leader in assists in club history (15) leads the team with three goals and two assists this year. The 23-year-old Molino has been with the club since 2011 and re-signed in January after being courted by other clubs in Europe and the United States, according to Heath. Formerly a wing, Molino has seen time in a central role and was named USL PRO MVP in 2012. Molino has scored five goals in 22 appearances for Trinidad and Tobago, including a goal against Honduras in last summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Yordany Álvarez (5-foot-10, 165 lbs) - defensive midfielder
Now in his sixth season in the United States after defecting from Cuba, the 28-year-old spent the last two seasons with Real Salt Lake. The 2011 USL PRO MVP while with Orlando, Álvarez is technically on loan in 2014 after a trade that saw Orlando City send their lowest fourth-round pick in the 2017 SuperDraft to RSL. Álvarez appeared in 33 MLS games over the last two seasons and has played every minute this season as a defensive midfielder.
Darwin Cerén (5-foot-7, 165 lbs) - attacking midfielder
Heath noticed the right winger during a visit to El Salvador late last year, spotting the 24-year-old playing for Juventud Independiente. Cerén has quickly become a regular for El Salvador and regularly captains the team, but he has yet to find his footing in the US, as he has gone scoreless despite a team-high 17 shots.
Tyler Turner (5-foot-11, 155 lbs) - right back
Ranked as the No. 2 defender among this year’s high-school seniors, the 18-year-old bypassed the chance to play collegiately at UCLA to turn pro, and he has made an immediate impact for Orlando City. A starter on the right side of the Lions backline, Turner looked comfortable during preseason matches against MLS squads at the Disney Pro Classic. A former captain of the US Under-17 national team, Turner was called up to the US U-18s earlier this month.
Thomas Redding (6-foot-2, 175 lbs) - center back
The 17-year-old out of Oviedo, Fla., became the first MLS Homegrown signing by the club when MLS and Orlando jumped at the chance to keep the high-school junior in the US, rather than seeing him choose one of numerous professional opportunities in Europe. The center back has not played yet due to injury but was also called up to the US U-18 national team’s training camp.
Five names do not make a successful squad, but so far, Orlando City definitely have an early lead on expansion rivals New York City FC in preparing their 2015 lineup.