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Why LouCity’s Arturo Ordóñez has put his success in the rearview mirror

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 03/13/24, 10:10PM EDT


After his offseason move from Pittsburgh, the reigning Championship Defender of the Year is focused on the present

Having claimed the 2023 USL Championship Defender of the Year award, Arturo Ordóñez joined Louisville City FC this offseason, one of the league's major free agency signings. | Photo courtesy Louisville City FC

By any measure, Arturo Ordóñez had an outstanding 2023 USL Championship season.

Among the league’s defenders, he led the league in aerial duels won (106), ranked second in recoveries (239) and interceptions (63), and was in the top 10 in clearances (188) during the regular season.

Cumulatively, he posted a +6.97 Goals Added mark per American Soccer Analysis’ metrics, grading as the sixth-best in a league season going back to the 2017 campaign.

He helped Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC win the Players’ Shield – the club’s first silverware in the USL Championship era – as the anchor to a defense that conceded only 29 goals in 34 regular season games.

But, from Ordóñez’s perspective, that’s all in the rear-view mirror.

“I think coming from a successful season, it is important to be humble and know that success is only in the present,” he said recently. “The future, no-one knows what is going to come. You’re going to have a lot of challenges and obstacles to overcome, and it’s very important to be humble and forget about the success you had in order to work hard.”

There’s something else that’s driving Ordóñez as well, regardless of what he produced last season – the belief he still has untapped qualities that can take him even further.

It was with that in mind that this offseason he elected to make the move from Pittsburgh – which had been his home for the past five years between two seasons with the Hounds and his career at the University of Pittsburgh – to join perennial USL Championship title contender Louisville City FC.

Ordóñez’s move was one of the highest profile free agency signings this offseason, giving the two-time title winners a new centerpiece to add to a returning defensive corps that already included regular All-League selection Sean Totsch, Wesley Charpie and last season’s mid-year arrival Kyle Adams.

Arturo Ordóñez joined Louisville City FC this past offseason and is aiming to elevate his game as well as helping the perennial title contender achieve success in its 10th campaign. | Photo courtesy Louisville City FC

For Ordóñez, the change in playing style LouCity offers is a challenge that can help take his game to another level while also offering the opportunity for more silverware.

“It is a different way that we want to play and a growing moment for me and for my career,” he said. “I think with [LouCity Head Coach] Danny [Cruz] and the way we’re going to play I’m going to be challenged to grow in some areas that that I maybe didn’t show in the past.”

It is, however, the sort of style that Ordóñez was schooled in growing up in his native Catalonia. The home state of not only FC Barcelona but also crosstown rival Espanyol and to the northeast this year’s La Liga surprise package Girona, the sport is embedded in the culture in northeastern Spain and makes dreamers of every kid who plays.

Ordóñez was no exception.

“Growing up, it was always about soccer for me,” said Ordóñez, who counted Ronaldinho as his favorite player growing up. “Since I was a kid, I always wanted to become a professional player, and watching those big games in Spain really helped me to grow my passion for the game.”

It also informed who Ordóñez is on the field. While his defensive qualities are clear, his ability on the ball both in passing and pushing play forward himself was something occasionally on display in Pittsburgh. The patience of the Spanish game was a trait that Ordóñez brought with him as he joined Pitt’s program collegiately, at which point he became versed in the more physical style of the American game.

“We play a slower tempo and possession-based soccer, which really helped me growing up to develop skills on the ball and be able to also play out of the back as a technical player,” said Ordóñez. “I think that really helped me coming to the U.S. And then, the U.S. is a very physical, more athletic type of soccer, so I had to adapt. With those two together, I feel I've grown a lot in my time here.”

It’s Ordóñez’s on-ball qualities that LouCity Head Coach Danny Cruz is hoping to see shine as he settles into his new surroundings, including the greater expanse the field at Lynn Family Stadium will offer the 26-year-old.

As one of a collection of new arrivals at Louisville City FC this season, Arturo Ordóñ aiming to write his name into the club's already-rich history. | Photo courtesy Louisville City FC

“I think for me – and Arturo’s probably sick of hearing me say it already – the importance of our center backs is being brave and their ability to drive with the ball, humble enough to understand when you've done the job and to release the ball, and then more importantly, their ability to step forward the way that I want to play defensively,” said Cruz. “He checks all of those boxes.

“[Last season] he didn't do as much when specifically playing at home, because the surface there is different, the space is different, but my hope is this is a place where you know you're playing on a field – 120-by-80 – where there's a ton of space with a team that wants the ball and wants to play that is going to hopefully going to show more of those talents.”

The other element Cruz is expecting from his new charge is adding another leader to the club’s locker room. As LouCity enters its 10th season, the changes the club has seen this offseason in its personnel – including the retirement of longtime captain Paolo DelPiccolo and departure of all-time goalscoring leader Cam Lancaster – could be seen as the start of a new chapter for the club.

While club original Niall McCabe and veterans such as Tosch and Brian Ownby remain, the arrival of midfielder Taylor Davila and wingbacks Adrien Perez and Sam Gleadle alongside Ordóñez are set to give Louisville a much different look this season.

“I think when you look at the history of the club and everything that we’ve accomplished, we’re extremely grateful for all the players that have helped write that history,” said Cruz. “At the same time, I can tell you I am extremely happy with where this group is right now. Most importantly with who they are as people and watching them come together because when things get tough, the character and the values of the people are what are going to get you through it.

“Up to this point we haven’t had much adversity, but it will come. That is what is going to become most important to me, and all of the new players that have come in, including Arturo, have done an excellent job of understanding the messaging, taking that messaging on and then looking to execute.”

For Ordóñez, meanwhile, living up to the standard that has preceded him at LouCity is a task he’s eager to take on.

“For me, it was a big part of my decision, the success that the club has had in the past,” he said. “Obviously, I take it as a challenge to continue to grow the history here. You mentioned the new players, I think all of them are really hungry and are like me, players that want to have success and be part of LouCity’s history. I think we’ll have a great group of guys, and I’m just very excited to start the season.”

With nothing promised, and his success in the past, Ordóñez is aiming to scale greater heights.

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