The 2019 MLS regular season was Carlos Ascues’ second season with the club. After being acquired on loan from Alianza Lima on Aug. 16, 2018, the Lions optioned to keep Carlos through the 2019 season. He made an impact last season, immediately connecting with former Lion Yoshimar Yotún in the middle. However, with Yoshi no longer a Lion, and the depth at central defensive midfield still huge, it was a prime season for Ascues to stake his claim to a permanent position with the Lions.
At the end of last season, Ascues was given a grade of 6.5, with an outlook that looked very bright, as he was one of the bright spots in the abysmal end to the 2018 Season. So how did Ascues fare in 2019?
Ascues appeared 17 times for the Lions in MLS regular season play and twice during the U.S. Open Cup run. He tallied 1113 minutes in MLS and 89 minutes in USOC matches. All in all, he was able to take nine shots, putting three of them on goal, and scoring once. He was also able to add one assist during the year. From a discipline point of view, he was shown two yellow cards and committed 25 fouls. He completed 78.4% of his passes and averaged just over two tackles and 1.5 clearances per match.
Would have to be Match 26 when Orlando City welcomed Sporting Kansas City to Exploria Stadium. Ascues played the full 90 minutes of the match, making himself seen and felt all over the pitch. His run and assist to Tesho Akindele put the Lions up 1-0, which was the final scoreline.
Ascues completed 79% of his passes, had two takeaways and five clearances. This was the one match where I believe he truly showed his box-to-box ability. My fellow writer Guilherme Torres gave him a grade of 8 for his performance this match, as well as making him his Man of the Match.
2019 Final Grade
The final grades are somewhat all over the place for Ascues. The staff grades ranged from a 6.5 to a 4.5, with a composite grade of 5.5 for the season. He was one of the more consistent players for the Lions in the middle of the season, but a slow start, and a chaotic finish seem to be weighing heavy on people’s minds. Admittedly, his play towards the end of the season was noticeably off compared to mid-season, and it can be seen in his match grades as the season came to an end.
Ascues’ loan will be up in December, and the future is uncertain beyond that. You could see glimpses of the bond that he had forged with Yoshi last season starting to form with Sebas Mendez this season, but Carlos never seemed to be able to lock in that starting role. With no coach currently, and having no solid idea on the direction that club is going to take, it is extremely difficult to predict the outlook for Ascues; however, a valid argument could be made that on a team that is flush with defensive midfielders, his ability to fill multiple positions across the pitch throughout the midfield and across the back line — he was signed as a potential center back and has also played left back — makes him a good candidate to remain a Lion moving into 2020, although the club will likely want to see if they can get him at a less expensive rate than his guaranteed $451,500 from this season.