By MIKE GRAMAJO
ORLANDO, Fla. — Orlando City SC might not be in Major League Soccer just yet, but that isn’t stopping them from already working on their list of MLS homegrown players.
The Lions announced on Wednesday that they have signed U.S. Under-18 national team defender Tommy Redding as their first MLS homegrown player.
The 17-year old will join the Lions on a multiyear deal (USL Pro-MLS), after turning down multiple offers from Europe, most specifically Bundesliga giants FC Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.
“We were always aware of him, we knew he was with the national team, so he was already close to us,” OCSC President Phil Rawlins told SBI on acquiring Redding. “The biggest obstacle was Europe, it was a case of making a step for Tommy and what’s best for his development. It was the right place, the right time.
“He was already with us, it was just landing him since he was with the national team. He trained with the club after he left the IMG Academy, so we always had that contact with him. It was silly not take advantage of this opportunity, especially with Tyler (Turner), we seized the moment with these two young talents.”
Redding, who was part of the IMG Residency Program, has been part of the club’s preseason and will line up alongside his fellow U.S. U-18 teammate Tyler Turner, who also joined the Lions in February. Both defenders will also play alongside veteran defenders Rob Valentino and Luke Boden.
The Oviedo, Florida native told reporters that skipping college played a huge factor in signing with Orlando City, saying that either playing in Europe or playing professional at home were his first plans before eventually attending college.
Redding becomes Orlando City’s fifth MLS signing, joining midfielders Yordany Alvarez, Kevin Molino, Darwin Ceren and defender Tyler Turner in Orlando’s 2015 MLS squad.
What do you make of this development? Do you like this Orlando City signing? Can you see other homegrown talents turning down offers from Europe to stay home?
Share your thoughts below.