Orlando City has been linked with another defender, this time from Uruguay in 23-year-old center back José Aja. The young defender has been under contract with Nacional, the most popular and famous club in Uruguay, since 2014 but spent the recent Clausura season playing for fellow Primera Division side Racing Club de Montevideo this year.
The rumor has grown legs since, with WFTV's Christian Bruey getting confirmation from his unnamed sources.
Aja made 12 appearances during the Clausura season, accumulating two goals and one assist in 1,078 minutes played. He was cautioned five times during the season and sent off once.
The Lions have been in the market for a central defender after the club traded Aurelien Collin to the New York Red Bulls on April 29. The club has been primarily using three central defenders in Seb Hines, David Mateos, and Tommy Redding and were forced to call up Conor Donovan and Devron Garcia from Orlando City B for a game due to injuries and suspensions.
With his loan at Racing ending, Aja has returned to train with Nacional but the club's technical director, Martin Lasarte, is reported to have said that the young player would not feature into the future plans for the club. "In principle, Aja would go to MLS," Lasarte said in an interview with The Oral Deportiva of Universal Radio.
Orlando City had used all of its international slots, but with the recent departures of veteran French defender Aurelien Collin and Swiss midfielder Adrian Winter, the spot has been freed for the club. With a need for the club at central defender and Lasarte saying that the player would be joining MLS, Orlando City has become an expected target for Aja.
Orlando has also been linked to other central defenders for this window, including Dionatan Texeira of Stoke City, a player even Adrian Heath has discussed publicly. The Lions were also reportedly interested in Irish defender Gavin Gunning but that talk seems to have cooled. It is unknown whether the club would bring in multiple center backs without also transferring a current player out, but David Mateos' contract might make him the odd man out, although Seb Hines has dealt with several injury issues.
Heath has said the club wants to sign someone at every outfield position group -- defense, midfield and forward -- in this window.
We'll keep you updated as this story progresses.
Update (2:45 p.m.): The Orlando Sentinel says an unnamed league source has confirmed Orlando City is in discussions with Aja about signing him.