By CAITLIN MURRAY
Orlando City SC’s roster is filling up quickly.
The club is finalizing deals with three players, including Northern Irish striker Martin Paterson, who spent the past two seasons with Huddersfield Town in England, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
A Stoke City player in his youth days, Paterson has connections to Orlando City that paved the way for the move. He played with midfielder Lewis Neal and has known Orlando City coach Adrian Heath since his youth career.
Paterson comes to Orlando City after some instability in Europe — in his past two seasons, he’s scored just six goals and went on loan twice, first to Bristol City and then Fleetwood Town, where injury cut his stint short.
Prior to that, Paterson fared better, scoring 18 goals for Burnley between 2009 and 2013. For the Northern Ireland national team, he has scored twice in the last year and three goals total in 18 caps.
Here are Orlando City’s other signings and the rest of the latest MLS notes:
ORLANDO CITY SIGNS MWANGA, ARRIETA, BUT NOT PEARCE
Orlando City signed a pair of players that had been in the mix for the Major League Soccer expansion side, but one of them is not Heath Pearce.
Pearce had been taken 13th in the expansion draft but could not agree to terms, the Orlando Sentinel reported. The 30-year-old defender is now exploring overseas options as Orlando City holds his MLS rights.
He’s played six seasons in MLS, last with the Montreal Impact, where he reportedly earned a $100,000 salary. Other clubs the three-time MLS All-Star played for include FC Dallas, Chivas USA and the New York Red Bulls.
Meanwhile, Orlando signed forwards Danny Mwanga and Jairo Arrieta this week.
For Mwanga, donning the purple kit could be a fresh start. He was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft and started strong, but has struggled in his past three seasons, tallying just three goals.
In his first two MLS seasons, Mwanga was a productive player, scoring 12 goals and posting eight assists, the kind of form he’ll hope to return to in Orlando.
Orlando also added Arrieta, who is coming off three seasons with the Columbus Crew, where he recorded 17 goals and nine assists.
THIERRY HENRY TO MAKE DEBUT AS TELEVISION ANALYST
Thierry Henry may be done appearing on the field, but his career in soccer continues.
The retired New York Red Bulls star will make his television debut as a Sky Sports analyst on Sunday for Manchester City’s home match against Arsenal.
According to the Daily Mail, Henry will be in-studio at the Etihad alongside former Liverpool midfielder Graeme Souness to break down the action. The stint allows him to return to Arensal in a way — Henry spent eight seasons with Arsenal and remains the club’s all-time scorer.
Henry, 37, retired in December after five seasons with the Red Bulls, where he totaled 51 goals and 42 assists in his MLS career.
NYCFC ADDS TWO MORE GAMES TO PRESEASON SCHEDULE
New York City FC has scheduled two preseason matches against European clubs St. Mirren and Brondby, the club announced Tuesday.
NYCFC starts the preseason Feb. 10 against Glasgow-based Scottish Premiership side St. Mirren, a club that won the Scottish League Cup in 2013. On Feb. 15, NYCFC will then face Brondby, a Danish Superliga team on the hunt for a Europa League spot.
“St. Mirren and Brondby will provide top class opposition for us ahead of our first competitive MLS game against Orlando on March 8,” coach Jason Kries said in a statement. “We’re delighted to be taking on such strong opposition at a very important stage of our preseason.
“Following our training camp in Florida these matches will provide the perfect opportunity to test our progress as a team.”
The two games round out the team’s preseason schedule, which includes two matches as part of the Carolina Challenge Cup beginning Feb. 19 in Charleston.
SOUNDERS ADD GOALKEEPER TROY PERKINS
Goalkeeping was once a position of major weakness for the Seattle Sounders, but the club took a significant step Tuesday toward bolstering its goalkeeper corps.
The Sounders announced Tuesday that the club had acquired veteran goalkeeper Troy Perkins. Perkins, who most recently featured for the Montreal Impact, was the 2006 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year and has been capped seven times by the U.S. Men’s National Team.
“It’s a huge honor to be asked to join a club with the kind of prestige and class that Sounders FC represents,” Perkins said. “As an opponent, playing in Seattle was always a special thing and it will be a lot of fun being on the other side of it. The fan base there is really top-notch and atop the league.”
“Troy is an accomplished player that is well-known throughout our league,” added Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid. “He has been one of the most consistent performers at the goalkeeper position during his MLS career, and he brings experience to our roster. We look forward to welcoming him in Seattle shortly.”
MICHAEL FARFAN MULLS MLS RETURN UPON LIGA MX EXIT
Former Philadelphia Union midfielder Michael Farfan could be returning to MLS.
Farfan is leaving Cruz Azul in LigaMX and is looking new for a new club in MLS or Europe, he said on Tuesday.
“I have officially left Cruz Azul,” Farfan told MLSsoccer.com. “I am a free agent, so as of now I am weighing my options.”
Farfan, a San Diego-area native, spent three seasons with the Union starting in 2011 after being selected 23rd overall in the draft. He totaled four goals and nine assists for the Union.
The 26-year-old moved to Cruz Azul in December 2013 but struggled to find a place in the lineup.
SPORTING KANSAS CITY PARTNERS WITH NWSL CLUB FC KANSAS CITY
Sporting Kansas City has entered into a partnership with FC Kansas City of the National Women’s Soccer League.
The two clubs have reached an agreement for FC Kansas City to play at Swope Soccer Village and Sporting Park, with Swope Village serving as the club’s training grounds.
“Establishing a collaborative relationship with Sporting KC was a major off season priority for our organization,” said Huw Williams, FC Kansas City director of soccer operations. “Sporting KC’s success as a franchise speaks for itself — their brand and vision represents our city in a very favorable manner.”
The 2015 NWSL schedule has yet to be announced and the details of any matches at Sporting Park are not yet set.
Swope Village opened as Sporting Kansas City’s official training ground in 2007 and recently underwent a $15.5 million expansion.
“Sporting looks forward to hosting our friends from FC Kansas City at the Swope Soccer Village this season,” said Sporting Kansas City chief of staff Greg Cotton. “Sporting will work closely with FC Kansas City to deliver high-level fan experience as the Blues push for a repeat of their NWSL championship.”
The NWSL features two clubs that are officially affiliated with MLS sides — the Portland Timbers founded the Thorns in 2013 while the Houston Dynamo did the same with the Dash last year. U.S. Soccer founded the NWSL in 2013 and continues to operate the league.
What do you think of this news? How does Orlando City’s latest roster look to you? Looking forward to Thierry Henry’s TV debut? Think NYCFC’s preseason matches will be good tests?
Share your thoughts below.