A former standout with the U.S. men’s national team is coming back to the states to continue his pro career, but not with a Major League Soccer club.
Orange County SC, which plays in the USL Championship, announced Saturday that it had signed defender Michael Orozco on a free transfer. Orozco most recently played with Lobos BUAP, where he started in 29 matches this past season and scored once while the team finished 12th in the Liga MX table.
“Michael is a fantastic player with a resume that speaks for itself,” Orange County head coach Braeden Cloutier said in a statement. “His international experience and leadership will be invaluable to our team.”
The 33-year-old defender has four goals to his name in 29 appearances with the U.S. men’s national team. He last played for the Stars and Stripes in 2016 under former coach Jurgen Klinsmann. Orozco is perhaps most remembered by U.S. fans for his score in a 2012 friendly against Mexico in Estadio Azteca, which gave the Americans their first ever win on Mexican soil.
Orozco is a native of Orange, California, but has spent almost all of his career playing for clubs in Liga MX, aside from one campaign in 2010 with the Philadelphia Union of MLS, where he scored twice and added an assist in 29 games.
“I’ve dreamed of one day being able to establish a foundation for my family, show my kids where my passion started,” Orozco said in a statement. “It’s an honor to be able to come back to my home town and start a new chapter in my life where I can show the new generation that everything is possible and help Orange County SC win its first USL championship.”
Orozco began his pro career with San Luis in 2006, but has also featured for Puebla, Chiapas, Tijuana and Lobos in a lengthy Liga MX career. Orozco has appeared in more than 200 contests for Mexican clubs, notching seven goals and six assists along the way.
Orange County SC has a 4-5-7 record this season with a goal differential of -2. Orozco should provide stability on the back-line for the club.
“Michael is the ultimate professional and we are very proud to bring him back home to Orange County after his stellar career in Mexico,” OCSC President of Soccer Operations Oliver Wyss said in a statement. “Michael will have an immediate impact on the field and he is the perfect role model for the current and next generation of Orange County soccer players that we are developing at our club.”