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Orlando City midfielder Cristian Higuita working to ensure future with Lions

Cristian Higuita walks into Orlando City training at Sylvan Lake Park. (Jordan Culver-Orlando Sentinel)

Orlando City midfielder Cristian Higuita, the club’s all-time leader in MLS appearances with 94 in four seasons, is unsure of his future with the Lions. 

Speaking before training Thursday morning, Higuita said coach James O’Connor said he wasn’t sure if he was going to be involved with the team’s plans for 2019. 

“I can be realistic,” said Higuita, who is from Colombia and started his career with Deportivo Cali. “My final conversation with him, he told me he wasn’t sure if I was going to be involved. I worked hard and waited for a decision.”

Higuita said for now, he’s enjoying working with Orlando City. 

When asked if other teams had made other offers for him, Higuita said,  “No, no, there’s nothing happening right now. I’m working with the team, enjoying being here, enjoying being with the coaches and teammates. And I wait.”

Higuita, 25, has been with Orlando City since its first MLS season in 2015. He scored a career-high four goals last season for the Lions, despite getting off to a rough preseason start. Former coach Jason Kreis said Higuita didn’t come into camp fit ahead of the 2018 season

“I changed my mentality a little bit,” he said about arriving to O’Connor’s 2019 preseason camp. “I wanted to arrive better, I wanted to arrive ready to contribute if not here, then somewhere else.”

He said he still sees a future with Orlando City. Higuita had his option exercised by the club ahead of the 2019 season, but he was one of the players left unprotected by the club ahead of FC Cincinnati’s expansion draft. 

“If I’m here, it’s for a reason. I have other ambitions and goals to fulfill,” he said. “I’m happy here … but I wish these last five years the team would have made the playoffs.”

Orlando City waived right back RJ Allen on Wednesday, bringing the number of players gone from last year’s roster up to 15. The Lions have a closed-door scrimmage against the Philadelphia Union on Tuesday, then play in the Orlando City Invitational. 

Orlando City opens its regular season at home against NYCFC on March 2. 

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