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Orlando City declines options for eight players after tough 2018 season

Orlando City on Tuesday announced its first round of roster moves after a tough 2018 season. 

Notable players whose options weren’t exercised include goalkeeper Joe Bendik, right back Scott Sutter and captain and centerback Jonathan Spector. In addition, the contract options for midfielders Richie Laryea and Tony Rocha, centerback Chris Schuler, left back Donny Toia and forward Jose Villarreal were not exercised by Orlando City. 

Bendik was a consistent starter for two years with Orlando City, but was benched after coach James O’Connor came in midway through the 2018 season after the firing of Jason Kreis. Bendik didn’t play in the final four games of the season after third-choice goalkeeper Adam Grinwis was given an opportunity. 

Sutter and Spector are both veterans who dealt with injuries this season, but were effective when they were on the pitch. Sutter started the final 13 games of the season, but missed time from mid-April until near the end of July, playing in just two matches in June during that time. 

Spector played in just 13 games this season. He struggled with concussions, a hamstring injury and, near the end of the season, back issues. 

“Option not exercised” doesn’t necessarily mean Orlando City is getting rid of a player. It could also mean the team is renegotiating a player’s contract. 

Goalkeeper Earl Edwards Jr.’s contract expired at the end of the 2018 season. 

A talented core is still under contract for Orlando City. All-star midfielder Yoshi Yotún, star striker Dom Dwyer, attacking midfielder Sacha Kljestan and Bundesliga-caliber centerback Lamine Sané are all among those under contract. 

Midfielders Carlos Ascues, Uri Rosell, Cristian Higuita and Will Johnson, winger Chris Mueller, left back Victor “PC” Giro, and goalkeepers Adam Grinwis and Mason Stajduhar all had their contract options exercised by the club. 

Right back RJ Allen, midfielders Josué Colmán, Dillon Powers, Cam Lindley and Pierre Da Silva, left back/winger Mohamed El-Munir, centerbacks Shane O’Neill and Amro Tarek, and striker Stéfano Pinho are all other players with existing contracts with the team. 

O’Neill and Ascues were acquired during the secondary transfer window in the summer. 

Orlando City finished the 2018 season 8-22-4 (28 points), despite massive roster overhaul ahead of the campaign. Last season was Orlando City’s worst in MLS, Kreis was fired in June. 

The Lions failed to reach the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.

One month after Orlando City’s season ended with 1-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls in Red Bull Arena, the club announced it had fired General Manager Niki Budalić. He was the club’s GM since December of 2016 and oversaw the hiring of O’Connor and, alongside Kreis, built the 2018 roster. 

Here’s the full list of roster moves for Orlando City (alphabetical)

  • RJ Allen – Under Contract
  • Carlos Ascues – Option Exercised
  • Joe Bendik – Option Not Exercised
  • Josué Colmán – Under Contract
  • Pierre Da Silva – Under Contract
  • Dom Dwyer – Under Contract
  • Earl Edwards, Jr. – Out of Contract
  • Mohamed El-Munir – Under Contract
  • Adam Grinwis – Option Exercised
  • Cristian Higuita – Option Exercised
  • Will Johnson – Option Exercised
  • Sacha Kljestan – Under Contract
  • Richie Laryea – Option Not Exercised
  • Cam Lindley – Under Contract
  • Chris Mueller – Option Exercised
  • Victor “PC” Giro – Option Exercised
  • Shane O’Neill – Under Contract
  • Stéfano Pinho – Under Contract
  • Dillon Powers – Under Contract
  • Tony Rocha – Option Not Exercised
  • Uri Rosell – Option Exercised
  • Lamine Sané – Under Contract
  • Chris Schuler – Option Not Exercised
  • Jonathan Spector – Option Not Exercised
  • Mason Stajduhar – Option Exercised
  • Scott Sutter – Option Not Exercised
  • Amro Tarek – Under Contract
  • Donny Toia – Option Not Exercised
  • Jose Villarreal – Option Not Exercised
  • Yoshimar Yotún – Under Contract

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