Orlando City made it official on Wednesday, announcing the signing of 34-year-old Brazilian attacker Julio Baptista.
Capable of playing attacking midfielder or forward, Baptista has scored 163 goals in 526 appearances during his club career and has eight goals in 45 career caps with the Brazilian national team. He had been without a club since leaving Brazilian side Cruzeiro in December, and trained with Orlando earlier this month.
“Julio is a strong, physical and tactical player who will provide us with more depth and options in the forward positions,” Orlando head coach Adrian Heath said in a statement released by the club. “We enjoyed having him train with us earlier this month, and are very pleased with the decision to bring him on board full-time.”
Baptista came through the Sao Paulo academy with Orlando City star Kaká, playing with the Lions midfielder at the club until 2003, when they both moved to Europe. Baptista began his European career with La Liga club Sevilla, where he scored an incredible 62 goals in 90 appearances.
He moved to Real Madrid in 2005, went on loan to Arsenal in 2006, transferred to Roma in 2008 and eventually moved back to Spain with Malaga in 2011. He returned to Brazil with Cruzeiro in 2013, netting 17 goals in 62 appearances with the Belo Horizonte club.
Baptista represented Brazil at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, playing alongside Kaká at the tournament. He has won one La Liga title (2008), two FIFA Confederations Cups (2005 and 2009) and two Copa América titles (2004 and 2007).
He'll be available for selection, pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate and P-1 Visa, when Orlando return to action on April 3 against Portland.