Orlando City winger Silvester van der Water landed in Orlando this week and made his first appearance at Exploria Stadium Friday afternoon.
The winger’s arrival from Netherlands marked the final offseason addition for the Lions. Coach Oscar Pareja will now have the full scope of his roster — beside striker Daryl Dike, who will remain on loan with Barnsley through May — to train ahead of the team’s home opener against Atlanta united April 17.
Van der Water signed with the team Feb. 23, but his departure from the Netherlands was delayed due to issues at the Dutch embassy. But Pareja said he wasn’t concerned about the delay, which offered van der Water a short break after playing a full Dutch season.
Orlando City added four outside players during the offseason — van der Water, striker Pato, goalkeeper Brandon Austin and defender Jonathan Suárez, who was released following his February arrest.
The winger also arrived in time to participate in team-wide coronavirus vaccinations, which will take place for Orlando City and Pride players and staff at the stadium Monday.
During a press conference Thursday, Pareja said van der Water could be the final outside addition –– aside from any promotion of youth players — to the Orlando City roster ahead of the 2021 season.
Despite increased support at the midfield and winger position, the Lions still have a noticeable gap in depth at left back.
Starter Jo 1/4 u00e3o Moutinho underwent hip surgery in December, and Pareja said his four- to six-month recovery plan is still on schedule. But that means Moutinho still has at least two weeks until he can return to full-speed, full-contact training with his teammates.
On Thursday, Pareja noted his fondness for Moutinho as a player and a person, adding he feels the defender is a game changer when healthy. Pareja also said it was importance to prepare for at least the first month of the season without Moutinho.
“Joao is an important player for our structure. He’s a player who I have special ties with because I like a lot the way he helps us to play our games. But at the same time, we have to evaluate and at the end the most important part is the team and the team has to be moving on.”
The Lions brought in former Minnesota United left back Sam Gleadle on trial this week, and the team is also surveying several academy players to possibly fill the position.
At the moment, right back Kyle Smith, who filled in for Moutinho and Ruan at both outside back positions last year, is the primary option to start in the position to begin the season.
Nani, Urso recover from injuries
Captain Nani and midfielder Júnior Urso are both recovering from injuries.
Nani has been unavailable for at least a week of training. Pareja said Urso took a week off to recover from his injury, but has returned to training with his teammates.
Pareja didn’t specify the nature or location of either player’s injury, and the timeline for Nani’s recovery plan is unclear at this time.
The Lions will play three more opponents in preseason scrimmages before the start of the season: the Chicago Fire on Saturday; Miami on Tuesday; and Minnesota United Friday, April 9.