When Orlando City FC recently announced their intent to decline options on six of their players, one name stood out: Julio Baptista.
I know, I know, this isn’t the flashy DP signing we’ve all been waiting to read about. Instead of news about Robbie Keane (I wish) or Frank Lampard (be still, my heart), I’ve got an article about an aging midfielder just released from one of the younger clubs in the league.
But hear me out! Baptista isn’t as snore-inducing of a signing as it may seem.
Locker Room Leadership
At 35-years-old, Baptista would be - if anything - a battle-tested leader in a young and unproven locker room. As one of MLS’s two newest clubs, there will be few things more valuable to have than a steady hand to guide the squad through the inevitable jitters.
The Loons have been fortunate to enjoy their share of success over the years in NASL, but competition in MLS is going to be tougher than many would care to admit. While I’m not ready to count us out of a great first season just yet, we do face an uphill battle.
Watching the MLS Cup Playoffs should give you a good idea of the level of competition that lays ahead. I’d love to have a veteran leader like Baptista on our squad to help keep our heads down and focused on the task at hand.
Amid ongoing whispers of a salary dispute preventing star striker Christian Ramirez from signing with our newly promoted side, it’s refreshing to see that bargains can still be had.
Baptista is about as much of a sure thing as you can find in professional sports. Despite being closer to the end of his career than the beginning, he has continued to contribute to OCFC through 2016.
At $90,000 his salary doesn’t break the bank and would even be a bargain if he ended up playing semi-frequently as a super sub.
Known for his aggressive and fast-paced play style, Baptista has earned the nickname The Beast. At 6’ 1” and 190 lbs, the midfielder has used every bit of his frame to score 163 goals in 526 appearances.
While we’re still waiting to see what attacking threats our squad will sign up front, what better way to build the core of an attacking-minded team than with an lethal midfielder/striker hybrid player like Baptista?
Would Baptista be a solid addition to our emerging line up? Sound off in the comments below.