Article Written by Travis Clark
Published: December 31, 2018
Portland striker Benji Michel has signed a Homegrown contract with Orlando City SC, the franchise announced on Monday.
Michel will forego his final season of eligibility on the Bluff, where he's been one of the top strikers in college soccer over the past three seasons.
"We are very excited with the addition of Benji. Central Florida is one of the top areas in the country in talent, and we as a Club need to focus on grooming players like him to make sure they have a pathway in their professional careers," Orlando City SC EVP of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi said in a statement. "Benji is an exciting player; we could not be any happier to have him come back home."
After joining Portland ahead of the 2016 season, Michel developed into one of the most consistent strikers in DI men's soccer. He finishes his career at the WCC side with 31 goals in 53 appearances, leading the program to the NCAA tournament in 2016 and 2018.
"Benji improved exponentially in our culture and program here to develop into one of the most dynamic attacking players in the country," Portland head coach Nick Carlin-Voigt said in a statement. "I couldn't be more proud of Benji to sign his first MLS contract. Benji came to campus with a great work ethic and desire to improve each day to reach his full potential. He had great preparation before coming to Portland playing for Mike Potempa. Each year in college, Benji improved and came back stronger adding elements to his game while developing into a team leader and someone who helped drive a winning culture not only on the field but in the locker."
Prior to joining Portland, Michel was a standout at Montverde Academy and the Orlando City Academy. He scored 21 goals in 32 games during the 2014-15 Development Academy season.