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Signing season: Austin FC acquires Colombian midfielder Jhojan Valencia

Austin FC has signed midfielder Jhojan Valencia (left) as its newest recruit. (Deportivo Cali/Twitter)

Austin FC announced the signing of 25-year-old Colombian central midfielder Jhojan Valencia on Thursday as the club continues to fill more holes in the roster heading into the 2022 season.

Austin FC signed Valencia to a three-year contract with an option to keep him through the 2025 season in one of the team's international slots. The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Valencia's profile may ring a bell for some Austin FC fans—the news comes just over a week after the club announced that 25-year-old central midfielder Tomas Pochettino would return to his home country to play on loan with Argentinian side River Plate. Austin could see Valencia as a potential Poche replacement.

Valencia comes to Austin hot off of a 2021 league championship title after leading his team Deportivo Cali to Colombia's Category Primera A championships. A native of Cali, Valencia made 73 appearances for his home team from 2015 to 2021, registering two goals and taking home two league championships. From 2017-2019, Valencia went on loan for Colombian clubs Cucuta Deportivo and Union Magdalena, helping promote Union Magdalena to the top-flight league in 2019. Valencia has a grand total of 163 appearances with the three clubs.

After three years playing for his hometown, Valencia said in a press release that he's hungry for more trophies in a new city.

“I’m very excited to come to Austin,” Valencia said. “It’s such an amazing city, with great support for the Club and everything needed to compete for trophies. I want to thank Claudio and Josh for their support, and I look forward to all of the great moments ahead.”

The signing comes two days after Austin FC made three key signings in the MLS SuperDraft, including No. 5 overall pick Kipp Keller, the draft's best center back; left back Charlie Asensio and midfielder Michael Knapp.

At the onset of the offseason, Austin FC Sporting Director Claudio Reyna said the team was looking for three to five more recruits to push them into playoff contention in 2022—and with the signings of Valencia, midfielder Ethan Finlay and striker Maxi Urruti, it seems like the Verde and Black are close to rounding out their roster.

Reyna said Valencia could help bring new energy to the pitch and help give Austin's strikers the chance to score goals.

“Jhojan is a young, talented midfielder with great defensive instincts and an eye for the ball,” Reyna said. “His presence will add a new dimension to our midfield and free up some of our more attack-minded players to get forward and create chances. We look forward to welcoming him to Austin."

The club will put their new and old players to the test for the first time in the home opener against FC Cincinnati on Saturday, Feb. 26.


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