Yoshimar Yotun is headed to Cruz Azul, the club announced Thursday.
The Peruvian midfielder was one of few players who stood out for Orlando City in a 2018 campaign that saw the club change coaches midseason but still miss the playoffs and finish last in the Eastern Conference with only 28 points from 34 matches.
The fee was not disclosed in the official announcement, but media reports on both sides of the border put the fee between $3.5 million-$4 million.
The MLS club made clear that it worked to keep him in Florida but was unable to convince the 28-year-old to stay.
"Yoshi has been an important player for this Club; however, he expressed interest in Cruz Azul at the conclusion of the season. We worked closely with him and his agent to keep him in Orlando, including offering new contract options,” Orlando City EVP of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi said in a news release.
“Ultimately, the player had his mind set on a move to Mexico, and we reached the best possible outcome for both him and the Club. We thank Yoshi for his time with Orlando City and wish him the best of luck in the future.”
Cruz Azul finished as Liga MX runner-up after topping the regular season table but falling 2-0 on aggregate to Club America in the final. In search of its first title since 1997, the club again has been active in the transfer market with sporting director Ricardo Paleaz making Yotun his fourth winter signing. Earlier in the window, La Maquina added midfielder Orbelin Pineda from Chivas and forward Jonathan Rodriguez from Santos Laguna.
Yotun and Pineda are both versatie players who can fill various roles in the midfield, but still add to a crowd in the midfield for Pedro Caixinha's club. They'll be competing for minutes with 20-year-old Roberto Alvarado while Ivan Marcone seems likley to keep his place as the No. 6. Rafa Baca and Javier Salas, both of which started as 8s during the season, also remain on the roster.
Orlando City also has been busy with Muzzi starting work this month and looking to overhaul the team as it seeks a playoff return. The club moved the rights for goalkeeper Joe Bendik to the Columbus Crew for $50,000 in Targeted Allocation Money. Goal sources indicate the Lions also are set to make a move for Real Salt Lake left back Danilo Acosta.