CHICAGO — It’s almost serendipitous that Orlando City selected Santiago Patiño in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft. A player that was unable to secure a homegrown contract with the Lions is picked third overall by his hometown team.
“It’s incredible,” Patiño said. “They always have opened the doors for me. They always told me, ‘You’re going to be a Homegrown’ [and] that’s what I wanted at first. Things didn’t work out, but I’m glad that happened now. You know, I’m a homegrown, I’m from Orlando and I can’t wait to be there.”
The 6’1″ striker out of Freedom High in Orlando was supposed to be a homegrown for the Lions, but his status was challenged and he was unable to make the deal happen. Now, he comes back home through a different method, but for head coach James O’Connor and EVP Luiz Muzzi, it was important to secure Patiño’s homecoming.
“I met Santi because initially I was told he was a homegrown player,” said O’Connor. “We’ve obviously had to use a pick to get a homegrown which is interesting, but it’s part of it. We’re delighted to get Santi, we’re excited to work with him and I think for us it’s great that we’ve been able to get someone who’s been through our system and get him playing for our first team, hopefully.”
Patiño was a second-team All-Southeast Region his senior year and won the Conference USA Golden Boot as well as being named all-conference first team. In his junior year, he was a MAC Hermann Trophy finalist and made the first team All-Southeast Region squad while also being Conference USA Player of the Year.
“He’s a guy that we really rate,” Luiz Muzzi said, “But above all, he’s a homegrown. No matter what the league says, he’s a homegrown. I said from day one, we’re going to be a team that values homegrowns. I want those guys to be in Orlando, we want them to feel the crest and we can’t let a homegrown go.”
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