Orlando City

A home debut, a goal and one whirlwind weekend: How Alex Freeman showed 'dreams come true' in completing path from Academy to Orlando City


When it comes to developing young soccer talent, patience is a virtue.

After signing a first-team contract back in February of last season, Homegrown defender Alex Freeman spent his year training with Orlando City, but playing with Orlando City B.

Heading into Year Two, things were different. Freeman was starting with OCB, playing with confidence and even scoring goals as a fullback. In just his second game of the season, the 18-year-old scored two goals in OCB's 2-1 win over Huntsville City one month ago.

This past weekend, that growing form was rewarded. Not only did Freeman make the bench for the MLS side for the first time this season, but he made his Orlando City debut in front of 22,000-plus fans in the Lions' 2-0 win over LA Galaxy.

It was only a two-minute cameo on the big stage, but it meant so much more to Freeman and to the club.

"We're happy for Alex," defender Robin Jansson said after Saturday's game. "He's been doing really good in trainings and playing some games with OCB. He's young, coming from the Academy, but he has a bright future.

"As long as [he's] putting in the work, and you always want to be out there, it looks like he has a good future, too."

"I did plan to have more minutes for him today," Lions head coach Oscar Pareja said, "We want these guys from the Academy to come and be part of that. I know what it means for the player to play two minutes in his debut and just put the feet on the pound. We say that in Spanish, and it's a saying that means you are already there.

"You got to see his happiness in the locker room and he's already tasted it and that was great for the club, for the Academy, for the boys who have been working with them, the coaches, and the directors. Hopefully, we can do it much more often."

That taste of MLS action was only the tip of the weekend for Freeman.


After celebrating in the locker room and getting the team ball from his teammates, Freeman suited up for Orlando City B to take on Toronto FC II. Getting the start at fullback, he was able to score his team-leading third goal early in the second half. With the final whistle, OCB would secure a dramatic 3-2 victory, getting a stoppage-time game-winner from Moises Tablante.

Now sitting on 14 points and second in MLS NEXT Pro's Eastern Conference, OCB is starting to show the growth and progression of the young players on the team.

Outside of Freeman, Homegrown forward Favian Loyola has been a key contributor to the young Lions, leading the team in assists through five games.

It's that level of progression that has the Lions staff excited for the future. As players come up from the Academy and join either the first team or OCB, they have the support and patience from the team staff to help them build those players up into future first-team stars or beyond.