|Courtesy of Orlando City SC|
By Mike Gramajo
After adding players to their 2015 Major League Soccer roster, Orlando City SC turned their focus on strengthening their USL Pro squad.
The Lions announced on Monday the acquisition of former DC United and Carolina RailHawks midfielder Austin da Luz to a one-year contract, while also signing former Orlando City U23s midfielder Joseph Toby.
“Austin just had a great season in Carolina and has spent time in the MLS,” Orlando City head coach Adrian Heath said in a statement. “He’s certainly got the talent. As people have seen him in the MLS, he’s a very talented footballer.”
The terms of the contract were not released.
After a stunning performance with the RailHawks, which saw Da Luz score four goals and notch four assists in 2013. His relationship with Heath is also an indicator on why he signed for the Lions, appearing for the Austin Aztex in 2008 before the franchise moved two years later to Orlando, Fla.
Da Luz’s presence at the RailHawks was considered a success despite not being able to help his side clinch a Soccer Bowl berth. A central-attacking midfielder, da Luz was most recognized by his partnership with 2013 NASL Golden Boot winner Brian Shriver.
With the signing, the Lions are adding more depth to their midfield, after already signing midfielders Kevin Molino and Yordany Alvarez to multi-year contracts, which includes a spot in Orlando's 2015 MLS roster.
After promoting former players such as Jonathan Mendoza and Adama Mbengue, Joseph Toby joins the Lions after playing for its U23s squad in 2012 and playing for the IMG Academy Bradenton in 2013. Although Orlando already has a solid back line, Toby’s arrival adds depth to Heath’s defense, which will more than likely see the former Flagler College defender play as a substitute to veteran defender Luke Boden.
“He’s has a lot of physical tools, as we’ve seen through our U23 team,” said Heath. “Our U23 team gives us a chance to watch and evaluate the players, which is of benefit to them as they may get a shot at the pro team.”
Orlando City will kickoff their preseason on Feb. 11 when they take on the Chicago Fire at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. before facing off against a plethora of MLS squads in the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic in late February, early March.