ORLANDO, Fla. – Niki Budalic isn’t quite ready to call him the “missing piece” in Orlando City SC’s lineup, but the signing of Peruvian midfielder Yoshimar Yotun as the team’s third Designated Player is definitely a big step in that direction, the general manager suggests.
Budalic had promised the team was not finished with its summer transfer window business after the big trade for striker Dom Dwyer two weeks ago.
In the quest for more goals, City had targeted a creative midfield force to help unlock the door for Dwyer, Cyle Larin and company. And the general manager insists the 27-year-old international from Callao, acquired from Swedish side Malmo, should definitely fill that need.
“We felt confident with the profile he has that he could come in and help out in the short-term and long-term,” Budalic explained. “In the same way that we got tactical flexibility with Dom, this even more so allows [head coach] Jason [Kreis] to play with what works best for our team.”
The fact Yotun — who has 64 appearances for Peru — can also play at left back is another bonus, as is his additional stature as a seasoned international with major tournament experience.
“Any time you can acquire an experienced international player, of course it’s attractive,” Budalic added. “From our roster-building viewpoint, he fits in as younger than some of our other midfield players, so he fits our group balance for sure.”
Orlando had spent the best part of a year scouting Yotun, who first came to their attention as a left back with Malmo. But when the team signed Donny Toia from Montreal in the offseason, their interest cooled for a while.
“After we picked up Donny, we weren’t really focused on him as much," Budalic said. "But he became more interesting as a midfield player when we watched him play for the national team during Copa America and during World Cup qualifiers, where he played more as a No. 8.
“He definitely has an eye for a final pass, both from wide areas with crosses but through the middle of the field as well, with an ability to switch the field. Those are things that really caught our attention and made us think we could really use a player like him.”
Ultimately, that evolving impression of Yotun made Orlando pull the trigger on their second big move of the summer.
“His skill-set definitely complements the other midfielders we have and brings something different,” Budalic said. “After scouting him several times, we quickly realized he offers a lot more than just being a left back, including an ability in midfield to possess the ball.
“He has proven to be very versatile for his country. He has got a good strike and he’s very creative. He’s not a Number 10 and we wouldn’t play him in that role, but we believe he has great deliveries, both from open play and dead ball situations, so he will definitely be able to contribute. And, although he is a Designated Player, moving forward we will have the flexibility to convert him to TAM if we go ahead and add another DP.”