Jan 22, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT
Orlando City Soccer Club aren’t joining Major League Soccer until 2015, but the club has already made a bevvy of top notch signings to help smooth their entrance into the big-time.
On Wednesday MLS’ 21st franchise announced the acquisition of Cuban midfielder Yordany Alvarez from Real Salt Lake, as the former Orlando City star returns to the club that helped give him a break in the U.S.
Alvarez, 28, fled from the Cuban national team during a tournament in Florida where he and two other players snuck out of their hotel and defected from Cuba.
The talented midfielder was given his break with the Austin Aztex, who soon became Orlando City when the club relocated, and after impressing under Adrian Heath’s tutelage Alvarez has spent the last three years in MLS with Salt Lake.
Orlando’s head coach Heath is delighted to welcome Alvarez back on board, initially on loan.
“We’re obviously delighted to have Yordany back,” Heath said. “We have an MLS-calibre player returning to us. I’m really excited to have him with us again and looking forward to the future with him on the squad.“
Orlando traded its lowest 4th round SuperDraft pick in 2017 to acquire Alvarez. And for the upcoming USL PRO season Alvarez will be on a loan from Real Salt Lake, playing for the Lions in their final season in the USL before they join MLS.
Alvarez is keen to build on his success from his previous spell at Orlando, as he was named the USL PRO’s Most Valuable Player in 2011. The midfielder joins Kevin Molino as the club’s first MLS acquisitions for the 2015 season.
“I’m excited to be back in Orlando,” Alvarez said. “Orlando City has a special place in my heart for giving me a chance.”
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