Orlando City has signed Uruguayan midfielder César Araújo from Montevideo Wanderers Fútbol Club of Uruguay, the club announced Wednesday. The 20-year-old will arrive on a three-year contract via the U-22 initiative. I believe he is the first player to be brought in with this designation.
He made 63 appearances in his young professional career, with six assists in that time. He was also named to the Uruguayan National Team for upcoming World Cup qualifiers. Araújo was also his club’s 2021 player of the year, quite the feat for a teenage defensive midfielder.
This is a big signing for Orlando City. In the short term, it’s seemingly a great solution to an area of need. Last year, defensive midfield depth was seriously strained without Sebas Mendez, and with the loss of Uri Rosell, Orlando desperately needed more depth and more quality at the base of midfield.
The long term ramifications of this move are even more exciting. We’ve seen Mendez and Andres Perea make similar moves to Orlando in recent years, but Araújo feels even bigger. He’s one of the top midfielders in all of Uruguay and on the fringes of one of South America’s best national teams. As a U-22 signing, he’s also another significant investment in the squad. All of these are incredibly exciting trends to see for this club.
Another, far less consequential, quirk of this deal is that Orlando City are now developing some Uruguayan flavor to the squad. Mauricio Pereyra resigned with the club and if rumors are to believed, Araújo might not be the last signing out of the country. This doesn’t mean anything, but it’s an interesting pipeline that Orlando is opening.
In all, this is a seemingly great move for the club. Araújo is one of the better young midfielders in South America who will fill a position of need. We’ll see how he adapts to MLS this season, but this looks to be a great first signing of 2022.