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2018 Orlando City Season in Review: Carlos Ascues

How did the newest Peruvian acclimate to his new home, new team, and new fans in the second half of 2018?

MLS: Houston Dynamo at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

On Aug. 16, 2018, Orlando City announced the loan of center back and defensive midfielder Carlos Ascues from Alianza Lima for the remainder of 2018. The loan, which included an option for an additional 12 months, was the final transfer made by the Lions in a very quiet secondary transfer window, and quite possibly the one that made the most impact. Considering the team’s need for depth at left back and wing, as well as the dire need for a secondary striker and to recover from the Justin Meram debacle, many wondered how another defensive midfielder would help a team already seemingly stacked with defensive midfielders.

Ascues made his first appearance for the Lions against Atlanta shortly after joining the club, and played extremely well in the 2-1 loss, including making the initial pass forward that eventually led to the Lions’ lone goal of the match. This would be his first of nine matches for City as the season wound down.

Let’s take a deeper look at Carlos’ match statistics since joining the boys in purple in 2018.

Statistical Breakdown

Ascues played a total of nine matches (all starts) for the Lions. Other than his 67 minutes in his first match against Atlanta United and playing 58 minutes in the last home match against the Columbus Crew, he played the full 90 minutes in the seven other matches for a total of 755 minutes.

In those nine appearances, he played four at center back, four as a defensive midfielder, and one as a left back in the 4-0 drubbing against the Chicago Fire on the road. Although his time in MLS has been short, there are a few key statistics we can bring up. He scored no goals and added no assists, finishing with an 87.3% passer rating. He committed eight fouls, drawing four, and picked up two yellow cards — one in the 2-1 home loss to the Seattle Sounders, and the other in the 0-0 draw at home against the Houston Dynamo.

Digging a bit deeper into the statistical breakdown shows Ascues averaged 1.9 tackles per match, 2.1 interceptions, 2.9 clearances, and one block. Add this on top of his play moving forward and overlapping on the attack with four total shots (one on goal), 0.6 key passes per match, and 3.7 long balls, and it begins to paint a picture even Bob Ross would want to add happy little trees to.

Best Game

With the exception of one week — the aforementioned 4-0 loss to the Fire — Carlos was one of the most stable and constant players since he joined the team. Picking one match is a bit difficult, but for me it becomes a toss up between being thrown into the fire with your first start against those northern foes Atlanta, and the 1-0 loss just a few weeks later to Sporting Kansas City. Since the Sporting match saw Ascues play a full 90 minutes, I will have to give the slight edge to that being his best match.

For the second match in a row, Ascues was slotted as the left center back, with captain Jonathan Spector playing out at the left back position. In a match discussion that seemed to be dominated by the two one-on-one chances Dom Dwyer had, it shouldn’t have been difficult to note the match that Ascues had. He ended the match with 86.5% passing accuracy and three long balls, but it was his defensive play that really shined.

In the span of 90 minutes, in a match where SKC held just over 58% possession and out-shot the Lions, 16-8, Ascues had a stellar defensive shift. On top of three tackles and five interceptions, he had nine clearances and one block. He was voted the Man of the Match for that match, and rightfully so. It was his third match for the club, and certainly showed his skill, ability, vision, acumen, and just how valuable of an acquisition he was.

2018 Final Grade

The Mane Land staff gave Ascues a grade of 6.5 for the 2018 MLS season. With the exception of the Chicago match, Ascues was easily one of the best defensive players the Lions fielded this season. He looks comfortable as both a center back and a defensive midfielder, and certainly took very little time to acclimate himself to this team in turmoil.

2019 Outlook

In a season that saw so much wrong, there were moments of light, and Ascues was certainly one of those. His interplay with fellow countryman Yoshimar Yotún, his ability and fearlessness getting forward, as well as ability to get back when needed on defense did not go unnoticed. I can only see Carlos getting better and better with the Lions, assuming the back line is somewhat stable, the international requirements are reduced, and Orlando City exercises the option to keep Ascues on the roster for 2019. I think it is all but certain that Carlos Ascues will be in purple again next season.


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