After reports came out of Ecuador Thursday morning, reliable sources confirmed to The Mane Land that Orlando City was close to completing the signing of 21-year-old Ecuadorian midfielder Jhegson Sebastián Méndez Carabalí (commonly known as Jhegson “Sebas” Méndez). The club made the signing official today.
“Sebas is a very exciting, young player who we’ve been following for a while. He adds a level of versatility, athleticism and overall quality to our team,” said Orlando City SC EVP of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi. “There was a lot of international interest in him, and we are thrilled he chose Orlando and MLS as his next career move. Looking forward to integrating him into the roster next season.”
Méndez, a native of Mira, Ecuador, is a 5-foot-11 central midfielder who can play either on the attacking side or the defensive end. He’s played five matches with Ecuador’s national team after stints on his country’s U-20 and U-17 squads. Méndez’s first appearance with the senior side came on Sept. 12, 2018, in a 2-0 victory over Guatemala, playing 73 minutes in the defensive midfield. In Méndez’s five starts for the national team, Ecuador is 3-1-1, allowing four goals while recording three clean sheets.
A product of the C.S.D. Independiente del Valle academy, Méndez has played nearly his entire club career to date with Independiente, making 81 appearances in all competitions for the club, including two starts at defensive midfield in both legs of the 2018 Copa Libertadores. He also had a loan stint with Cultural Leonesa from August 2015 to January 2016, playing one match in Spain’s third division.
What it Means for Orlando City
There’s a big hole to fill in the midfield with the transfer of Yoshimar Yotún to Cruz Azul earlier today. Yoshi was often used as more of an attacking piece than he’s meant to be. Méndez isn’t as developed but he seems to have a similar skill set as a player who generally plays central midfield but can add to the attack and cover defensively. He’s younger, obviously, and bigger at 5-foot-11.
He’s old enough to step in and play immediately but young enough that he’ll probably need to grow into his game over time. Hopefully he can make the adjustment to the U.S. quickly and to his teammates even more so.
Here are some highlights of what he can do: