After months of Seattle Sounders FC scouts’ attention, Joao Rojas has a firm MLS offer
Two Seattle Sounders scouts indelibly marked on their radar Ecuadoran midfielder Joao Rojas. But back in 2016 at age 18, they threw him back into the pond to get bigger and better. The team has fellow Ecuadoran on the roster, defender Xavier Arreaga, as of 2019. The center-back played in 14 games each of the previous two seasons.
An Ecuadorian report declares that one MLS team with an Ecuadoran on the roster, plus sides from Spain and Mexico, have firm offers for Rojas. One of the offers antes up $4 million (U.S.) with the now-23-year-old’s team Emelec getting 50%.
Other MLS squads with Ecuadoran players include Chicago Fire FC, Orlando City SC, LAFC, and New England Revolution. But the Sounders made the most noise in Rojas’ teen years after watching him multiple matches.
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He’s capped three times for Ecuador already. And even at age 18, the scouting report said he already had a cultured right foot – not a cannon – with a nice touch. Where he didn’t score, he frequently assisted.
He showed game intelligence and awareness during matches. On counter-attack when he couldn’t find a clear passing lane, he didn’t force a pass. Instead, he cut inside and held play up. That attracted defenders and freed a teammate to continue the run on goal
Over the next 48 months, he has continued development and built on those skills. So now, at age 23, he’s ready to contribute in MLS, either starting or right off the bench.
The reports say Rojas wants to stay with his team, competing for league and continental trophies, for the rest of his contract. But opportunity knocks now.
Who knows when it will knock again? While a starter for team Emelec in 2019 and 2020, he has eight goals and 13 assists in 56 matches. Scouts have noted his effectiveness those seasons at left-wing attacking in the 4-2-3-1 formation, then defending in a 4-4-2.
As an attacking midfielder, Rojas roams the pitch calculating opportunities, then making them happen. His teammates favor passing the ball to him as a playmaker. Scouts also note that at 5-feet, 8-inches doesn’t the majority of his aerial duels. In fact, he’s won just under 42% of his 1.25 duels per 90 minutes. He’s also credited with only 5.61 successful defensive moves per 90 minutes.
But Joao Rojas excels at holding onto the ball, opening up passing lanes, and dribbling ability that gets him past opponents even in the greatest pressure situations. He’ll make an excellent contribution to the Seattle Sounders. And he still has room to grow.