Recent reports have linked Peruvian center back Alberto Rodriguez to Orlando City. With the recent addition of José Aja, along with the emergence of Tommy Redding and the veteran presence of Seb Hines and David Mateos, Orlando City may find itself a little crowded in the middle. But, maybe that's OK given the team's goals-against average.
Rodriguez and his Peruvian squad had a pretty good summer at Copa América Centenario before ultimately falling to Colombia on penalties in the quarterfinals. Peru had opened the tournament with a 1-0 win over Haiti, a 2-2 draw with Ecuador, and a 1-0 upset victory over Brazil that had a pretty controversial finish. Rodriguez was part of a defensive line that, impressively, only conceded two goals all tournament long. The 32-year-old has 58 caps for his national team.
Rodriguez’s nickname is "El Mudo" (The Mute) for his imposing presence and strong, silent poise.
El Mudo’s career started off with a lot of promise with a move from his initial club of Sporting Cristal Lima in Peru to Portugal’s Braga in 2007 before injuries stymied him, and by 2011 he found himself with Sporting CP for a year before another move to Rio Ave FC on a free transfer. After two years there, he was released and spent all of 2014 without a club before returning to Peru to rejoin Sporting Cristal in 2015, where his contract had since run out on June 30.
Despite having a solid Copa América campaign this summer, this could prove to be Rodriguez’s last best chance to play on a big stage as the Peruvian National Team has not selected him for its upcoming World Cup qualifying matches due to him not currently belonging to a club and getting regular minutes.
Because he is not currently attached to any team, signing him wouldn't cost Orlando City in terms of a transfer fee and with an international slots open, having a player who not only has experience playing for his national team, but also had a solid presence for it at one of the bigger international tournaments this year could prove to be a big boost in terms of bringing some stability to a back line that hasn't exactly had much of it thus far in 2016.
An interesting situation could arise though if Orlando City Head Coach Jason Kreis finds use for Rodriguez as a defensive mid, potentially providing some backup for Cristian Higuita and Darwin Cerén.
How much stock should we put into this particular rumor? Well, again, the recent acquisition of Aja would seem to settle the need for a center back addition. At Rodriguez's height (about 6-foot), he might not be the best option at central defense, despite a strong showing for Peru. The Lions seem to have a logjam at defensive midfield as well, with Ceren and Higuita being longtime starters and Kreis starting Antonio Nocerino and Servando Carrasco in his first match as head coach.
Rodriguez doesn't seem to fit a position of need for Orlando. However, acquiring him may enable Orlando to move a defender or defensive midfielder out in exchange for another piece.
We'll continue to monitor this story as it develops.