Orlando City announced Monday that the club has signed former Development Academy and Orlando City B forward Wilfredo Rivera to a homegrown contract.
At 17 years of age, he becomes the second youngest homegrown signing, just months older than defender Tommy Redding when he signed in 2014. Rivera’s contract runs for three years, with club options in 2024 and 2025.
“Wilfredo is another great example of the talent coming out of our Academy,” Orlando City EVP of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi said in a statement. “We’re excited for Wilfredo to join the First Team and represent this community wearing our badge. He adds speed and depth to our lineup and exemplifies the developmental vision that we have for the youth of this Club.”
Rivera played last season with Orlando City B of USL League One where he made 15 appearances, leading the team offensively with three goals and one assist.
The San Juan, Puerto Rico native joined the Orlando City U-16 team in 2018, working his way through the rankings up to OCB in 2020.
Originally, Rivera had committed to playing college soccer at the University of South Florida back in December and was scheduled to join the Bulls during the fall 2021 semester. Head coach of USF Bob Butehorn was aware that Rivera could be signed to a pro contract when Rivera committed, and had been in contact with Lions head coach Oscar Pareja throughout the process.
“Couldn’t be prouder of Wilfredo,” Butehorn told to the Orlando Soccer Journal, “I knew that Oscar was high on homegrown talent, bringing up kids through the ranks and it was the risk we took with Wilfredo. For him to get the contract the way he wanted it, I couldn’t be more proud of him. Now he’s a pro and now he has to figure out how to run his business. But I’m really, really happy for the young man.”
Rivera becomes the ninth homegrown player in Orlando City’s history, joining the likes of Tommy Redding, Tyler Turner, Harrison Heath, Mason Stajduhar, Benji Michel, David Loera Jordan Bender and Michael Halladay.
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