SANFORD, Fla. — Orlando City centerback/defensive midfielder Carlos Ascues wants to put his injury woes behind him so he can return to form for the Lions – not for a team outside of Central Florida.
Ascues was recently rumored to be looking for a move back to Peruvian side Alianza Lima, where he was playing before he was loaned to Orlando City during the 2018 secondary transfer window. Alianza Lima is also where Ascues started his professional career.
Ascues doused the rumors in a Tuesday interview with Pro Soccer USA.
“No, nothing like that,” Ascues said through a translator when asked if he was interested in rejoining Alianza Lima. “That rumor is false. I haven’t had any contact with any team. I’m very happy here. My focus is with Orlando.”
After last season – during which Ascues started the first match he was available for and didn’t miss time until the final match of the year – Orlando City exercised its option to extend the Peruvian’s loan deal another 12 months.
When asked why the rumor would even pop up, Ascues said, “I’ve been there since I was little. The coach that returned [Pablo Bengoechea] was there since I was little, so I think that some fans just made up the rumor.”
Ascues said he’s focused on bouncing back from a string of injuries. He suffered a hamstring injury during Orlando City’s 4-3 win over the Colorado Rapids on April 6. That match marked his fourth consecutive start early in the season. While recovering from the hamstring injury, he suffered a quad injury.
Those injuries are on top of a preseason quad injury that caused him to miss the first two matches of the season.
Getting back into the starting XI has occupied Ascues’ mind. He’s been training with the rest of the team recently, instead of off to the side.
“I am better now,” he said. “In the past weeks, seeing the team, I couldn’t even come out of the locker room. It was very sad. I came here to help the team and train with them. Thank God I’m better.”
Since arriving during the 2018 secondary transfer window, Ascues has been a versatile player for Orlando City. So far, he’s been used as a defensive midfielder and as a centerback. Before his hamstring injury, Ascues told Pro Soccer USA though he prefers playing in the middle, he’d play goalkeeper if it meant getting on the pitch on match day.
“I’ve always loved playing here,” Ascues said. “It’s a good club. The fans are great. It’s a motivation to go out and play different with the fans. I’m very anxious to play again.
“If it was possible, I would return right now. But it’s a process. When I get back, I’ll give my all to the team and to the fans.”
Orlando City coach James O’Connor said he values Ascues’ versatility.
“I think, probably, for me, his best [position] is probably midfield,” O’Connor said. “I think he’s very capable. He can play at the back, but I think I would see him as a center-midfield player.
“For us, the beauty with Carlos is, again, he’s got discipline. So, if we want him to play as a 6, he can do it. If we want him to play as an 8 or need him to play at the back, we feel is if he can do that as well. We feel as if he brings good flexibility and a good mentality to the group.”