Orlando City has traded defensive midfielder Darwin Cerén to the San Jose Earthquakes for attacking midfielder Matías Pérez García with just hours left until Major League Soccer’s secondary transfer window closes.
In addition, the Lions will also be receiving an international roster slot through the end of the season, and sending salary budget space to the Quakes to sign a season ending injury replacement.
The Orlando Sentinel was the first to report the move.
"Our club is very excited about bringing Matías into our camp," Head Coach Jason Kreis said in a statement released by the club. "He has played at a very high level and has demonstrated his skill since joining MLS. Matías fits in nicely with our tactics and shape and will bolster our attack."
Cerén has played with Orlando City since 2014, joining the club ahead of its final season in USL. The Salvadoran was the club’s third ever MLS signing, following the expansion announcement, and he has now become the first USL-era player to be traded away from the Lions. He scored two goals in 23 appearances (22 starts) in the USL with Orlando City in 2014.
Cerén, who regularly captains El Salvador’s national team, played in 42 games for Orlando City in MLS, scoring two goals, notching four assists, and was named the club’s Player of the Year in 2015, as well as the MLS Latino of the Year award, voted by the fans.
After coming into the league featuring off the bench behind Amobi Okugo in 2015, Cerén quickly earned a starting spot, teaming up with Cristian Higuita to form one of the most formidable defensive midfield duos in MLS.
"We would like to thank Darwin for his years of service to our club and his immense contributions to help us reach MLS and during the team’s inaugural season," Lions Assistant General Manager Niki Budalic said in the release. "He is a top class person and player on and off the field and wish him nothing but the best in the future."
On the flip side of the trade, Orlando City is getting García, 31, who is one of the more skillful attacking midfielders in the league. He signed with San Jose as the club’s third ever Designated Player back in 2014, and currently hits Orlando City with a budget charge of $250,000, according to the most recent numbers released by the MLS Players’ Union back in May. That number comes in a bit higher than Ceren’s salary, as he was making only $150,000 this season after signing a new contract with Orlando City this past off-season.
Peréz García, a native of Tartagal, Argentina, scored two goals and led San Jose with seven assists in 27 appearances (25 starts) last season, but only has one assist in 14 games (nine starts) this year, without a single goal. Since arriving in the league in 2014 Peréz García has appeared in 47 matches (38 starts), scoring three goals with nine assists.
Where Peréz García fits into Orlando City’s lineup will be something to watch. As an attacking midfielder, it’s obvious he won’t be starting over Kaká anytime soon, and the great run of form by Kevin Molino and high praise lately for Brek Shea by Jason Kreis doesn’t leave those two looking on the outside either.
We’ll just have to see how this move plays out over the coming days.
Rocha Set to Join Senior Squad
On top of the move for Peréz García, Orlando City also acquired the MLS rights to Orlando City B midfielder Tony Rocha from Sporting Kansas City in exchange for a fourth-round selection in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft.
The release sent out by the club didn’t mention anything about Rocha actually being signed to an MLS deal, but this move suggests a deal is likely coming soon. Rocha has been signed to short-term deals twice this season to allow him to play for the senior squad in U.S. Open Cup matches, and he started the Stoke City friendly with first-team players.
Rocha has a goal and two assists in 19 matches with Orlando City B this season.
We'll continue to follow this story as it develops.