Orlando City signs Rafael Santos; preseason schedule announced; Pride trade #2 pick

Rafael Santos Orlando

The Lions filled a vital hole to their backline on Thursday.

Orlando City announce it acquired left back Rafael Santos from Cruzeiro, penning the Brazilian to a two-year contract with option years for 2025 and 2026.

“Rafael is a technically gifted left back, has great touch on the ball, and creates danger in the attacking third with his crossing and set piece abilities,” Orlando City General Manager Luiz Muzzi said in a statement. “He brings experience from the first division in Brazil and is someone we expect to provide competition in that position within our team.”

Santos joins Orlando after almost five years with Cruzeiro. The fullback was most recently on loan Coritiba. In total, he has made 92 appearances across all competitions in his career, scoring five goals and adding eight assists.

The signing comes after Orlando lost starting left back Joao Moutinho when his contract expired at the end of 2022, signing with Serie A club Spezia after four seasons with the Lions.

Preseason schedule announced

Orlando City will play a slew of preseason matches ahead of their Feb. 25 opener against the New York Red Bulls at Exploria Stadium. Times of the preseason games have yet to be announced.

The team will begin preseason camp on Monday, January 9th. and then on Jan. 23, the Lions will depart to Bradenton for a week at IMG Academy.

Here’s who the Lions will play through the preseason, which officially kicks off training on Monday:

Feb. 1 vs Minnesota United

Feb. 4 vs FIU

Feb. 7 vs TBA

Feb. 11 vs Colorado Rapids

Feb. 15 vs Stetson University

Feb. 18 vs New England Revolution at Exploria Stadium.

Pride trade #2 overall pick

Depending on if specific conditions and terms are met, the Orlando Pride will potentially acquire $350,000 in Allocation Money, which is an NWSL record amount for a draft pick, and a natural 4th round selection in the 2024 NWSL Draft from Gotham FC in exchange for the #2 overall pick in next week’s NWSL Draft.

Orlando came into the draft with a bevy of picks, now having seven total after the trade, including the #3 overall pick. They also hold number 21,25, 29, 34, 39 and 41. The complete draft order can be found here

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