Where will R. J. Allen & Stéfano Pinho fit in at Orlando City SC?

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It may have taken Orlando City SC longer than fellow MLS clubs this off-season but the first new faces are through the entry doors ahead of 2018.

Yesterday, Jason Kreis‘ Lions secured deals for both New York City FC full back R. J. Allen and Miami FC forward Stéfano Pinho.

Widely viewed as depth signings following a disappointing 2017 campaign, R. J. Allen arrives in exchange for Orlando’s 2018 MLS SuperDraft third-round pick.

As for Stéfano Pinho, he joins our beloved franchise after a hugely successful 2017 season at Florida rivals Miami FC where he claimed his second NASL Golden Ball and Golden Boot awards.

Who is R. J. Allen?

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Aged 27 and hailing from Old Bridge Township, New Jersey, R. J. (short for Robert James) Allen is a right back by trade and experienced within Major League Soccer.

Spending the last three full MLS campaigns with New York City FC, the interesting fact is that R. J. Allen is a player Jason Kreis knows well having signed him ahead of NYCFC’s inaugural season in 2015.

Starting 42 of 53 regular season appearances for the Yankee Stadium outfit since 2015, R. J. Allen registered six assists in 2016 – a league high for a defender – so he certainly likes to attack.


Where will R. J. Allen fit in?

R. J. Allen joins Orlando City SC knowing he has the unenviable task of trying to dislodge Scott Sutter from the Lions’ starting eleven.

Quickly becoming a fan favourite following his first ever season in Major League Soccer, twice-capped Swiss international Sutter was a mainstay at right back, making 32 appearances in 2017.

Scott Sutter has been training back in his native Switzerland at former club BSC Young Boys this off-season and should only improve further after a strong first season in Central Florida.

Earning a positive reputation with Lions fans for his energy up and down the right flank as well as his good crossing accuracy, he was one of the Lions’ success stories in a poor 2017.

Right now, R. J. Allen looks likely to be his backup next season but aged 27 and a regular in his time at New York City FC, he provides healthy competition.

With Kevin Alston out of contract and Rafael Ramos currently unprotected, R. J. Allen represents crucial depth right now.

Who is Stéfano Pinho

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Orlando City SC supporters know Stéfano Pinho all too well after his hat-trick for Miami FC dumped the Lions out of the  fourth round of the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

Aged 26 and born in São João Nepomuceno, Brazil, the Orlando City SC transfer hierarchy couldn’t have earned a closer look at Stéfano Pinho who was untouchable in that June 2017 elimination.

Now going from minor to major in trading NASL for Major League Soccer, Stéfano Pinho will hope to emulate those before him such as Kevin Molino and Christian Ramirez who handled the step up in class with ease.

The signs are positive however with Stéfano Pinho earning the NASL Golden Ball this year after scoring an impressive 17 goals in 27 appearances for Alessandro Nesta’s Miami FC.


Where will Stéfano Pinho fit in?

A centre forward who can also play as a right or left winger, Stéfano Pinho won’t expect to be Orlando City SC‘s main striker right away.

Right now, Cyle Larin‘s Orlando City SC future remains very much up in the air but even if the Canadian international were to remain this winter, Jason Kreis needed striking backup anyway.

Prior to Dom Dwyer‘s arrival midway through last season, Orlando City SC were very light in attacking options, particularly since Júlio Baptista‘s exit, so it’s reassuring that Stéfano Pinho has boosted our number of forwards at least.

With Orlando City SC General Manager Niki Budalic admitting there could be as many as 12 new faces arriving this winter, you’d hope that a marquee striker may arrive – but that might only occur if Larin departs.

Cyle Larin remains strongly linked with Turkish giants Beşiktaş and after admitting he’s keen on a European switch back in October, right now it’s 50-50 as to whether he will stay a Lion.

At present, available forwards include Dom Dwyer, Cyle Larin, Carlos Rivas and Stéfano Pinho but with the former two players’ futures yet to be decided, Rivas infuriatingly inconsistent and Pinho untested in MLS, you’d hope there is more to come.

With Kaká‘s league-high salary now off the wage bill too, Orlando City SC supporters will demand a statement signing or two, that’s for sure!

What are YOU making of Orlando City SC‘s moves for R. J. Allen and Stéfano Pinho?

Comment below or tweet us at @Orlando_CityUK to let us know!

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