When Estrela and Rafael Ramos each earned Major League Soccer contracts with the Orlando City Soccer Club in August the move from Portugal to Florida was made easier because of their existing friendship, forged under the youth soccer system of Benfica.
The 19-year olds played out the final month of the USL PRO season with the Lions this year and joined Portugal’s U-20 national team this month in what’s proved to be a busy stretch away from family and friends.
In just a matter of months they’ll continue the journey when they make their professional debuts with Orlando City as members of MLS in March.
There’s so much to be done before the Orlando City Soccer Club even steps foot on the pitch as a Major League Soccer participant at the start of the 2015 season. Among the many obstacles to navigate is the MLS Expansion Draft on Dec. 10 as Orlando City joins New York City FC in each selecting 10 players from those made available by current clubs.
Orlando City currently has just 10 players under contract for 2015 after defender Luke Boden and midfielder Harrison Heath finalized contracts with the club on Monday. Boden has spent the past four seasons with the Lions while Heath joined Orlando City near the end of the 2014 USL PRO season.
Orlando City Soccer Club midfielder Kevin Molino added three more goals to his USL-PRO leading total Sunday in a 7-0 thrashing of the Dayton Dutch Lions at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The hat trick is the second of the year for Molino and gives him 19 goals on the season.
When Molino collected himself for the post game presser he made it a point to dedicate his three-goal effort to Yordany Alvarez, who after suffering an injury during a game June 7 was forced to retire from the sport last week. The disarming comments made by Molino about his teammate were a change of pace from the typical answers he’s given to questions in the past.
As Molino knows, the games must go on. With just two regular season games remaining the Lions are in position to wrap up the regular season title and earn home field advantage throughout the postseason.