Orlando City has had some success with bringing Peruvian talent to the club. Last year, the Lions added Yoshímar Yotún to the club in the middle of the season. He is arguably the best player on the pitch for Orlando this season, so his addition has been mostly positive.
Meanwhile, the club brought in Carlos Ascues on loan from Peruvian Primera División side Club Alianza Lima, and in his two games with the club, he seems to be finding a groove early on for the Lions.
In his first match with the club, Ascues was placed in the defensive midfield. Ascues has a large frame, standing a little over six feet and he showed it against Atlanta United. He also showed great vision on clogging passing lanes against the MLS leaders in goals as well as shutting down attacks from the Five Stripes. The Peruvian made plays for the offense as well, but chose his spots wisely when space was available. His presence on the pitch in the 2-1 loss to Atlanta United was very solid for a debut and deserving of more playing time.
In his second match, Ascues was placed in the center back position alongside Jonathan Spector , who played left back, and paired with Shane O’Neill, and again he impressed everyone around him. The match was more shaky for him than his first, but crucial plays on both ends of the pitch helped lead Orlando City to a draw. He had four clearances in the 2-2 draw against the Philadelphia Union, showing he has the defensive mind that James O’Connor is searching for.
Ascues proved a lot in his first two matches with Orlando City. He proved his versatility by playing two different positions and that he can be a force with his big frame and tackling ability. The 26-year-old also showed that he has the ability to move forward and spark counter attacks.
Ascues has played himself into a situation where O’Connor can be confident in giving him minutes. Playing as well as he has in the defensive third is something Orlando City desperately needs as the worst defense in MLS this season. His play also allows O’Connor to move players around the pitch, much like Cristian Higuita against the Philadelphia Union, as the Colombian was moved to a wing spot. Ascues adds a new level of versatility not only for himself, but for the starting 11 as a whole.
Seeing him perform the way he has in his first two matches is warming to Orlando City coaches and fans and the hope is that his solid play continues throughout the remainder of the season.