SPRINGFIELD, Va. — In making his winter move from Liga MX to MLS as D.C. United’s club-record transfer, Edison Flores says he’s joining a league that represents one of his own mantras: To always be improving.
“For the Peruvian football player, it’s a big step forward to not only leave the country but to come to a league like MLS that is growing and growing and growing every year,” D.C.’s newest Designated Player signing told media. “Just like me, I want to improve and I want to be a part of that league.”
That D.C. were willing to pay a club-record transfer fee — reported at $5 million — for the malleable 25-year-old attacker perhaps reflects a belief that Flores possesses that intangible quality of self motivation. They would find nothing in his recent resume to suggest otherwise.
Flores has improved at each of his three previous clubs, in each case coinciding with an improvement in team results. After returning to Peru’s Universitario from a stint with Villarreal’s reserves in Spain, he followed a three-goal first season back home with eight goals and seven assists to help the club finish 2016 third in the table, an improvement of six places.
Then he was onto Denmark’s Aalborg, where his ascension to regular starter coincided with the club’s rise from 10th to 5th in the table. And at Morelia, he went from just seven appearances in the 2018 Apertura to 21 by the following fall campaign, scoring four regular-season goals and three more in a run to the playoff semifinals.
It’s the kind of resume that could’ve attracted larger European suitors. But sometimes word of mouth is everything. And in Flores’s case, that word of mouth came from an increasing number of Peruvian colleagues making moves to MLS, including former Morelia forward and current Seattle Sounders star Raul Ruidiaz.
“I spoke to a lot of players who are a part of the national team and have played here as well, and they say only good things,” Flores said. “So I’m really happy to be able to play and improve my soccer here.”
Flores: Behind The Scenes
As for where he fits, Flores plays primarily wide left for Peru but he occupied a No. 10 role more often for Morelia. And D.C. manager Ben Olsen says that flexibility is a plus on a roster that may lack the star power of recently departed Wayne Rooney, but with additions such as Julian Gressel, Yamil Asad and Flores has as much flexibility as any in his tenure.
“He’s a guy that we envision giving a little bit of freedom in the center of the park,” Olsen said, "but also with the understanding that he’s got 50-something games with Peru out wide. And he’s able to bring some different qualities to the game when he’s in that position, but equally as effective.”
Flores insists he doesn’t have a preference, and that he’ll fit in where Olsen tells him to. And off the field, there may not be an easier foreign city for Flores to fit into than Washington. He’s already sampled some of the local Peruvian cuisine, and been able to get a feel for the sizeable expatriate community that exists in and around the nation’s capital.
“Yes, there are many Peruvians here in Washington,” Flores said. “I think it’s going to be very appealing to me. It will be good for myself to be a part of that, and not only the Peruvians here but the Peruvians back in my country.”