Almost three weeks after reports came out that Orlando City was close to signing midfielder Martin Ojeda from Argentina top-flight side Godoy Cruz, the club made it official today. The attacking midfielder will join the Lions on a three-year deal through 2025 with Orlando City holding two additional option years that could keep him in purple through the 2027 season. Financial terms were not disclosed and the contract is contingent upon receipt of his International Transfer Certificate and P-1 Visa, as well as a medical exam.
Ojeda, 24, will be the club’s third Designated Player, joining Facundo Torres and Ercan Kara in Orlando’s attack. Cesar Luis Merlo was the first to report the move. He will apparently wear Junior Urso’s old No. 11 shirt — the same number he wore at Godoy Cruz.
“We are excited to welcome Martín to our club as our third Designated Player heading into the 2023 season, as we continue to build our roster to fight for more championships,” said Orlando City Chairman Mark Wilf in a club press release. “Martín is a talented young player who has exceptional skills, and we look forward to the excitement he will bring to our team and our fans with his style of play.”
“Martín is a player that we have targeted for some time and are thrilled to have him join us. He is one of the most promising South American players, with a profile and playing style that fits our club identity,” Orlando City Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Luiz Muzzi said in the club’s release. “His versatility and tenacity in the attacking third make him a dangerous player in our offensive end, and he has an incredible work rate off the ball that make him difficult for opponents to deal with. Martín is a key acquisition for us, both this season and beyond, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to have him with us in Orlando.”
Ojeda developed in the youth academy of Argentine side Ferro Carril Oeste, joining the club’s senior squad at age 18 in January of 2016 and scoring on his debut on Jan. 30 of that year against Atlético Paraná. He scored five goals in 43 games with Ferro before joining Racing Club in July of 2017, spending two years with the famous side before being loaned to Huracán for the 2019-2020 season. In August of 2020 he was loaned to Godoy Cruz and was signed by that club when his loan ended. Across 139 competitive professional matches, Ojeda has scored 35 goals and added 23 assists.
What It Means for Orlando City
The Gualeguaychú, Argentina native will take up both a DP and an international slot.
According to Transfermarkt, Ojeda is a left-footed player who has primarily played left wing, but he can play any of the attacking midfield positions. That versatility may come in handy while Gaston Gonzalez returns from a knee injury. The club would seem to be set up well for (eventually) a 4-2-3-1 formation with Kara up top ahead of an attacking midfield line of Gonzalez, Ojeda, and Torres, with Mauricio Pereyra set up as the No. 8 in the central midfield with Cesar Araujo as the No. 6. Of course, there is flexibility when players such as Ojeda, Pereyra, and Torres can move around.
At 5-foot-8, Ojeda replacing Urso in the starting lineup makes the Lions even smaller when it comes to getting on the end of crosses or winning aerials. An inability to get onto aerial crosses was an issue in 2022. The Lions attempted a lot of short corners as a result, but failed to produce any danger whatsoever from the vast majority of those.
With the midfield attack now in place, the left back position fully addressed, and goalkeeper Pedro Gallese re-signed, the primary needs of the team are identifying the club’s starting right back and finding an experienced striker to spell Kara. The club has plenty of potential in the squad with its young forwards, but no Lion other than Kara has played striker for 90 minutes in an MLS game.
Here’s a reminder of what Ojeda can do: