TRANSFER_16x9-Marco-Angulo

FC Cincinnati have signed Ecuador international midfielder Marco Angulo from Independiente del Valle, sources tell MLSsoccer.com.

Cincy will pay a $3 million transfer fee, sources add. Angulo will be added to their roster via the league's U22 Initiative.

Angulo, 20, just missed out on Ecuador's Qatar 2022 World Cup squad but made his senior international debut last week, featuring in a 0-0 draw with Iraq. The box-to-box midfielder won the 2022 Copa Sudamericana (a South American continental tournament below the Copa Libertadores) with Independiente, making seven appearances throughout the tournament.

A product of Independiente del Valle's famed academy, Angulo has made 44 appearances (2g/4a) for their first team that has produced the likes of Brighton star Moises Caicedo, Vancouver Whitecaps FC midfielder Pedro Vite, LAFC midfielder Sebastian Mendez and many more.

Fit in Cincy

Cincy have been scouting Angulo for a year, going to watch him in person a handful of times. He's a long-term target of the club, someone they think will fit perfectly in their midfield and in MLS's physical nature. He joins Designated Player Obinna Nwobodo, Junior Moreno, Yuya Kubo and more in central midfield behind DP No. 10 Luciano Acosta.

FC Cincinnati made their first-ever Audi MLS Cup Playoffs in 2022 and were one of the league's most pleasantly surprising stories under new general manager Chris Albright and new head coach Pat Noonan. Playing an attacking, attractive style, Cincy won their first-ever playoff game against the New York Red Bulls (Round One), then played eventual Eastern Conference champion Philadelphia Union (Semifinals) to a tight 1-0 loss.

Room for upgrades

The Orange & Blue are looking to build on their turnaround from three straight bottom-of-the-table finishes. Already this offseason, Cincy have opened flexibility by declining a handful of expensive contract options. They are in talks with free agent center back Matt Hedges (ex-FC Dallas), who toured the facilities on Thursday. No deal is agreed upon yet. Cincy will remain active this offseason to make a few more additions as well.

Angulo will be the second U22 Initiative player on the roster, next to Argentine winger/wingback Alvaro Barreal. Cincy should be able to add a third if they choose, as winger Isaac Atanga is on loan at Goztepe (Turkey's second division). That deal has a purchase option.

Cincy re-signed breakout forward Brandon Vazquez to a new contract this past season, plus added Nwobodo, Moreno and American center back Matt Miazga during the year as they looked to reset the roster under new leadership. The club's core is under contract for the future.