SANFORD, Fla. — Carlos Ascues wasn’t sure he’d make it to Sylvan Lake Park.
Orlando City’s training ground seemed far away while he – and the Lions – awaited FIFA approval for his transfer from his former club, Peruvian side Alianza Lima. He said heard of the complications and Orlando City General Manager Niki Budalic told MLSSoccer.com’s Sam Stejskal “it was panic” at the close of the secondary transfer window.
“I was nervous with my family in Peru,” he said through translator before Monday’s training session.
“People over there thought it wasn’t going to happen. I was a little bit sad, but I really wanted to come here and luckily, in the end, it worked out.”
The 26-year-old Peruvian-Venezuelan centerback and father of two is with the Lions now, on loan until the end of the season with the option to extend the loan through the 2019 season. The panic and nervousness from the potential collapse of the deal is gone, replaced with a desire to help a struggling Orlando City (7-15-2, 23 points) side.
“Carlos brings valuable experience from Europe and South America. He fits the profile we’re looking for in a defender, and we also value his versatility to be able to play in the midfield,” Budalic said in a statement when the Ascues signing was announced.
“We welcome him to Orlando and look forward to his contributions.”
Ascues said coach James O’Connor has already made his expectations clear.
“He told me what he expects of me and I’m going to train really hard to fulfill those expectations,” Ascues said.
“First of all, I want to be a great teammate [and] support the team, support the players. Personally, I think I can bring a little bit of security playing out of the back. Coming out of the back with the ball is one of the things I enjoy the most. I think that’s something I can bring.
“And win. I want to win.”
Ascues will occupy an international roster spot for Orlando City. Brazilian midfielder PC recently received his green card, freeing up the space. Ascues said he’ll be joined by his children soon, as well as by his mother, Ana Isabel, who has been one of his staunchest supporters.
Ascues said the first thing he did when he arrived in the United States was look for an apartment that his mother would be comfortable in.
“My mom is very important for me,” he said. “She was the one that insisted for me to play. When I had no money, she was there supporting me to make sure I found a way to train and to play. My mom is basically everything. She means everything for me.”
Plus, Ascues already has a connection in star midfielder Yoshimar Yotún. He’s known Yotún for a couple of years since the two of them have both played for Peru’s national team.
“I’m very thankful to Yoshi because since I arrived, he’s been treating me very well,” Ascues said. “He’s been helping me get my life together and to get everything sorted. My relationship with Yoshi goes all the way back to when we played for the national team and it’s a great relationship.
“He’s a very humble and funny guy. Now that I’ve had more time with him, I’ve noticed he’s a great person and he’s been very helpful to me.”
Ascues said he’s had little time to explore his new city.
“Orlando has been beautiful,” he said. “I haven’t been able to go around the city a lot because I’ve been training, but it’s a great climate — a little bit hot — but I like it a lot.”