While most MLS clubs are targeting players in the prime or about to
hit the prime of their careers for Designated Player contracts, Orlando City signed 32-year-old Portuguese winger Nani to a a three-year contract as a Designated Player.
The Lions, who have yet to make the playoffs in their four seasons in MLS, have made Nani the oldest DP signing in 2019 among players who weren't in the league last season.
“This is an exciting day for our organization,” said Orlando City executive vice president of soccer operations Luiz Muzzi. “Nani brings tremendous experience to our roster. He’s a dynamic winger with quality abilities to move and cross the ball, impact games and lead the offensive play.”
With Manchester United, Nani won four Premier League titles, two League Cups and a UEFA Champions League crown in 2008. But since leaving Old Trafford in 2014, he has bounced around Sporting, Fenerbahce, Valencia, Lazio and back to Sporting.
At the international level Nani has been a mainstay for Portugal, making 112 appearances and scoring 24 goals. Nani was in Portugal's lineup when it won Euro 2016 with a 1-0 win over France in the final. He played for Portugal at the 2014 World Cup, scoring in the 2-2 tie with the USA, but he did not go to Russia 2018.
2019 Roster (26 players):
Goalkeepers (3): Adam Grinwis, Greg Ranjitsingh (Louisville City), Mason Stajduhar.
Defenders (8): Danilo Acosta (Real Salt Lake, on loan), Carlos Ascues, Alex De John (Dalkurd/SWE), Joao Moutinho (LAFC), Shane O'Neill, Ruan (Ponte Preta/BRA), Lamine Sane, Kyle Smith (Louisville City).
Midfielders (10): Josue Colman, Pierre Da Silva, Cristian Higuita, Will Johnson, Sacha Kljestan, Cam Lindley, Sebas Mendez (Independiente del Valle/ECU), Nani (Sporting/POR), Dillon Powers, Uri Rosell.
Forwards (5): Tesho Akindele (FC Dallas), Dom Dwyer, *Benji Michel (Univ. of Portland), Chris Mueller. Santiago Patino (FIU).
*2019 Homegrown signing.
Photo: Mark Thor/Orlando City SC.