Three months ago, Orlando native and Orlando City academy product Santiago Patiño’s MLS destination was a mystery. Days before the 2019 MLS SuperDraft his hometown club had been fighting to sign him as a homegrown player. Now, the Freedom High School graduate was available for selection to every MLS team.
Just three selections into the draft Patiño’s short wait was over. Orlando had protected one of their own.
“We need to make sure those guys stay. That they are proud to be Orlando homegrowns and they want to play for the team,” said EVP of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi following the pick. “It’s a lot of work ahead because we don’t have a lot of homegrowns in the team, so we can’t let one of ours go, that for sure.”
On Saturday, Patiño made his professional debut, coming off the bench in the seventy-fourth minute. Just sixteen minutes after taking the pitch, Patiño sprinted through the Montreal midfield, gathered a pass in stride from Chris Mueller, held off a defender, and then played in Dom Dwyer for an easy finish.
“[On Friday] I knew I was going to be in the eighteen,” said Patiño following the match. “I knew if I had my chance I was going to give everything I had.”
Patiño made the first tally on his scoresheet in front of countless friends and family in attendance. He didn’t make them wait long. His assist was the quickest for a rookie in Orlando City history.
“I got my chance. I think since minute one I have given everything I had to the team. We just have to keep moving forward.”