Orlando City Soccer Club announced today that the Club has signed 19-year-old Rafael Ramos and 18-year-old Valdomiro Lameira to multi-year deals. Ramos and Lameira, better known as “Estrela,” will join City for the remainder of the 2014 USL PRO season before transitioning with the Club to Major League Soccer (MLS). Per Club policy, terms of the deal were not announced.
“The goal of our partnership with SL Benfica is to learn from the storied club and explore cross promotional opportunities but most importantly, identify talent that could play integral roles in our team’s development ,” said President Phil Rawlins.
“We just think both players will bring something to our group,” said Head Coach Adrian Heath. “They’re both young and hungry players, who want to do well, and I just think that they offer us something that we don’t have at this moment in time. Moving forward into MLS, they’ll both be two big pieces for us, so we’re pleased to have them here.”
Hailing from Benfica’s U19 team, Ramos, a right-back, and Estrela, a defensive midfielder, complement Orlando City’s desire to comprise a young and talented squad heading into their MLS debut in 2015. Earlier this year, Ramos and Estrela participated in the inaugural UEFA Youth League tournament with Benfica, competing against premier U19 teams in Europe.
After finishing first in its group, Benfica, went on to claim a 2-1 win over Manchester City’ U19s before thrashing Real Madrid’s U19s 4-0 to advance to the finals. Benfica finished the 32 team tournament in second place after falling to the FC Barcelona U19s 3-0 in the championship match.
The signing marks the first in the partnership between City and the reigning Portuguese champion. Orlando City and Benfica agreed to an innovative strategic partnership in June, yielding the opportunity for both clubs to share evaluations regarding professional and youth players, arrange friendlies, and provide opportunities for each Clubs’ players to train with the other team.
Boasting one of the largest fan bases in the world, SL Benfica has won over 70 championships in its history. It is also the only club to have won every Portuguese competition, including a record 33 Primeira Liga Championship titles.