Lions’ Second-Ever MLS Signee to be Recognized at September 6th Home Match

Orlando City Soccer Club today announced that upon medical recommendation, Yordany Alvarez has retired from professional soccer effective immediately.

During the Lions’ home match on June 7th, Alvarez suffered from an undisclosed medical condition while on the field. Over the following weeks and months, Alvarez underwent a series of tests locally at Orlando Health, the results of which were supported by other top-notch medical facilities across the country.

“We are deeply saddened by this news, but Yordany’s long-term health and well-being must be at the forefront of any decision regarding his future,” said Orlando City President and Founder Phil Rawlins. “To that end, both the Club and the entire Orlando Health medical staff were very prudent throughout this process in making sure he underwent extensive examinations to determine the possible causes of his condition and to find the best treatment so he can continue to live a full life.”

Alvarez holds a dear spot in the hearts of all long-time Orlando City supporters. Signed to the Club before its first season in Orlando, he lead the Lions’ to the 2011 USL PRO Championship while earning League MVP honors. He was then transferred to Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake before agreeing to again join Orlando prior to the 2014 season as the Lions’ second player to be signed as a member of the Lions’ Major League Soccer squad.

“I have known Gio for over six years and he is a great human being. He has been an instrumental part of our success here in Orlando,” continued Rawlins. “We will greatly miss his contributions on and off the field. We all wish our wonderful friend the very best in his future.”

Alvarez will not be leaving the Lion’s organization, as he will working in the Orlando City Youth Academy, helping in the development of our young players.

Alvarez’s story is a humbling one, personifying the American Dream. Five years ago, the 29-year-old midfielder was among three players who snuck out of the back door of a Florida hotel - defecting from their native Cuba in the middle of an international tournament. After making it across the country on just $500, the midfielder met Orlando City Head Coach Adrian Heath at a player tryout session upon which he was immediately signed by the Club.

“I’d like to thank Coach Heath and the entire Orlando City organization for the opportunities I’ve had over the last several years,” said Alvarez. “While I’m deeply disappointed that I cannot return to the sport I love, I must consider my health in this decision as I look to explore the next chapter in my life. I’m grateful to my teammates, friends and fans for their support during this ordeal – it has helped me more than words can express.”

In recognition of his success on the field and contributions to the organization, Alvarez will be recognized in a special ceremony during Orlando City’s last home game on September 6th at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. Additional details of the match will be forthcoming.

Fans are encouraged to send well wishes to Gio via Twitter at @AlvarezYordany.



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Teams GP Pts
Orlando City SC 28 62
Sacramento Republic FC 28 55
LA Galaxy II 28 51
Richmond Kickers 28 51
Charleston Battery 28 41