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Orlando City Notes: Change of heart in expansion draft selection, second DP option still open, and more


Photo by Russ Isabella/USA Today Sports


ORLANDO — It took 24 hours and a change of heart for Orlando City to find its first pick from Wednesday’s Major League Soccer Expansion Draft. 

According to Orlando City general manager Paul McDonough, OCSC had their mind made up on the direction to take draft until a phone call late Tuesday night suggested Portland Timbers goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.

“We went to dinner last night and by the time we left, all of a sudden Donovan Ricketts was our guy,” said McDonough. “We spent today and changed it. We knew we had holes we needed to fill. When we originally did the deal for Tally Hall, he was the guy we wanted, we knew he was the goalkeeper we wanted for the future. When this happened – Orlando City selecting Ricketts – we want to win right away.” 

Hall, who officially joined Orlando City on Monday via a trade with Houston Dynamo in October, sustained an ACL injury last season. The 29-year-old goalkeeper is expected to miss Orlando City’s opening MLS campaign, however, with Ricketts believed to be the starting goalkeeper for the Lions for now, Heath mentioned that Hall is still certain to become OCSC’s starting keeper.

Here are some more notes from Orlando City’s Expansion Draft Presser: 


With less than three months remaining until opening day, Orlando City are not closing the door in searching for a second designated player. 

Owner Phil Rawlins told reporters that the club is still focused on bring high-level talent to central Florida, but it will boil down to the player fitting into the system and when things simmer down in the coming weeks. 

“It really comes down to the system that we’re playing in,” said Rawlins. “If the right player comes along and fits into the system, then we’ll decide if he’s a DP or not. But it’s mostly about putting the right jig-saw together. “


Lewis Neal is returning back to where it all started. 

With the No. 10 pick of Wednesday’s expansion draft, Orlando City decided to bring back midfielder Lewis Neal – a USL original – back to Orlando. 

“For us he’s a perfect fit, and he’s happy to be coming back to Orlando,” said Heath. “He’s more than pleased to be coming back.” 

Neal’s first stint since coming from England was with Orlando City in 2011, and cemented his name into Orlando’s history books when he became the first player to score in the club’s history.

Orlando City president Phil Rawlins hailed Neal’s return as “historic” after the midfielder’s leaving to MLS in 2012 to join DC United.


Orlando City will be one of several MLS clubs affiliated with USL Pro clubs come 2015, and Louisville City FC might be able to get a nab of some OCSC’s players come next year. 

“We have conversations with Louisville,” said McDonough. “We will talk about the SuperDraft and then make the decisions going forward.” 

It’s worth noting that Louisville City will become Orlando City’s USL Pro affiliate after Orlando’s USL rights were purchased by Wayne Estopinal, an Orlando City minority owner, in 2014. Former Lions player-coach James O’Connor is currently the head coach at Louisville City. 

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What do you think of Orlando City selecting Ricketts last minute? Do you think he’ll stay in the long run? What do you make of Neal returning to Orlando? Who do you think Orlando will send on-loan to Louisville?

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